Cricketers Arms at D Pavilion (owned by TM Dilshan) has a pretty nice bar upstairs. The tapas are great, the ambience is simple and chic, but best of all, the drinks are excellent. As you’d expect from a cricketers place, you can also watch the cricket.
Just like the restaurant, both Bhagya and Indi went here separately so this will be combined review.
Cricketers Arms has only been opened for a bit over a month now so the drinks menu isn’t finalized as of yet but they’ve got an honestly impressive set of imported cocktails and mixers. The highlight for us is that the have Hendricks Gin and Fever Tree Tonic, which makes for quite possibly the best gin and tonic available. And they garnish it, as recommended, with a cucumber. It costs about Rs. 720, for 25 ml.
Besides the imported liquors, all of the cocktails are a flat Rs. 800. Not cheap, but basically average for this type of bar.
An interesting local spirit based cocktail we tried was the Stella. This is a mix of Ceylon arrack, strawberries, apricot brandy and demerara (unrefined) sugar. This one had a great balance of sweetness and acidity with the flavour of the arrack lightly coming through. If you’re not a fan of strong cocktails this one will definitely hit the spot. It’s also not too boozy, so you can have a few without knocking yourself out.
If you are inclined towards knocking yourself out, they have a doozy of a Scotch cocktail. It’s like a new take on a Long Island Iced Tea, this time based on Glenfiddich single malt, Grants whisky, and vodka. This one is actually deceptively smooth to the point where you don’t realize that you’re a bit buzzed until start walking around. Hit wicket is an apt name here, as you can knock your own bails off.
Finally, the piece de resistance. Gin and tonic is a classic drink and we think that Hendricks and Fever Tree is its best incarnation. Hendricks is a light and easy gin and Fever Tree is a premium and delicate tonic. Add a cucumber and it’s basically the perfect G&T. Lovely to have this in Sri Lanka.
Generally when it comes to bars people don’t really expect much from the food, but the tapas we tried at the Cricketers Arms were some of the best we’ve had at bars in Colombo.
The hot butter cuttlefish (Rs. 750) was both tasty and fragrant, with a crispy batter that had a great mix of spices and just the right seasoning. The one small gripe we had with this one was that they had used a pretty thick cuts of the cuttlefish which were cooked fine but needed to be chewed for a bit too long. But that’s us being very picky here.
The panko fried prawns (Rs.990) were plain brilliant and even being picky we couldn’t find any faults. You get 9 sizeable panko crumb fried prawns with tartar sauce. The prawns were cooked perfectly with just the right thickness on the panko crumb. It’s the perfect finger food, you can just grab it from the tail, dip it in the tartar sauce and pop it your mouth without any hassle or mess.
Ambience and Service
The Cricketers Arms bar sticks to the same simple, elegant theme as their restaurant. It’s not the biggest in terms of area but the seating is well thought through, so that it doesn’t really feel stuffy or cramped, and everyone can see the TV.
It’s also a pretty solid place to catch a cricket match since they’ve got projector that shows whatever’s playing. Oh yeah, they’ve also got this awesome wall of balls.
The staff here is the same as that of the restaurant, and, as we mentioned in that review, the service is great. On our visit they brought in the tapas one after the other so that nothing went cold. Little things like that show good training and professionalism.
TM Dilshan’s bar has a great selection of imported liquors, some creative cocktails and good bar food. If it’s not a six, this place is at least a four.