Diyatha Station was one restaurant that raised more eyebrows than a Florida man headline.
Because it's a train station at the edge of a lake, that's why. Not only does this particular piece of architecture have a track, but, it also has a train. Yep, a fully fledged, fire truck red, Thomas-the-train style train.
Warning: Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, we were forced to wind up with these rather atrocious looking photos. We're sorry, we truly are.
The Boat Ride
While there are other ways to get there, we decided to get the full packaged experience, which, had a 50-rupee boat ride involved. Sure, it's very much shorter than your average boat ride. But, it's still a boat ride and that's all that matters.
Anyway, with no necessity for prior informing of any sort, and waiting till this DIY plastic ferry has enough people on board to go along with you, we wound up making our way through the Diyanwanna, to this bizarre outlet of a restaurant.
After that delightful, yet short boat ride, you'll find yourself at the edge of a beautiful lawn, with a giant white train-sign-thing informing you that you have, in fact, arrived at Diyatha Station.
This is where things get exceptionally good. As we mentioned before, Diyatha Station is a restaurant designed as a Train Station and they've made every possible detail to be exactly like that. And better yet, they've succeeded. True, it's a lot cleaner than your average train station but, with a platform, wooden seating, a train and of course, the lake, the ambience at Diyatha Station added up to be better than that of any other restaurant in Colombo.
Here's where things get iffy.
There are 4 restaurants/food stalls at Diyatha Station -all catered by Waters Edge. Meaning, their food is relatively expensive. At least for the everyday man who this is supposed to attract, it is. Nonetheless, we ended up with a Prawn Kottu (Rs. 850), a Chicken in the Basket (Rs. 750) and a Spicy Chicken Quesadilla (Rs. 750).
Coming in a pretty generous sized plate, the Chicken Kottu was a pretty admirable heap of chopped up godhamba roti. Beautifully brown and positively steaming, we're not gonna lie, we were pretty excited about this one.
But, looks can be deceiving, and so was this. See, it wasn't bad. But, neither was it very good. Dry, without much vegetables and having close to no taste apart from the heap of spice they had added, we didn't quite enjoy it. Plus, there were like 4 prawns! Given the sheer amount of places, you can get a good kottu for less than Rs. 500, we're gonna say pass on this.
The gravy on the side was essentially watered down chicken gravy. Nothing more.
The filling, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. It was a mix of shredded chicken, pieces of what appeared to be cheese and lots of carrots. And the thing about carrots is, in large quantities, no matter how bland we see it at times, it overpowers. Plus, it wasn't very spicy either. Unfortunately, this took the tea on being the best of the lot.
Essentially the exact same thing your mum used to make as " fried chicken" when you were a kid, a Chicken in a Basket turned out to be a portion of normal crumbed chicken drummettes served with mayo and sauce.
Crunchy on the outside, cooked quite well, this was okay. But, apart from the actual chicken and bread crumbs, it didn't have any flavour in it, which is not exactly what we were looking for.
The fries, on the other hand, were brilliant. Thick, cooked to the point of being crunchy on the outside, silky smooth on the in and with a sheen dusting of salt, we loved it.
The drink menu here is rather limited. Ranging from just milkshakes, saruwath, and a couple of juices.
We ended up with a Saruwath (Rs. 300) and a Lime juice (Rs. 200).
Saruwath is one of those drinks I used to love as a kid so I was pretty excited for this one. Icy cold, impossibly sweet and tasting like not much else, it was alright at best. Reduction of the sugar content would have gone a long way though. For Rs. 300, it's just not worth it.
The Lime Juice was a tad better. Super cold with plenty of lime included in the equation, it was not bad. Again, the reduction of the sugar content would have made it heaps better.
Apart from the staff bringing you your drinks, the service at Diyatha Station is, more or less basically self-service. You place your order and return in approximately 10 minutes to pick it up.
But, if you do happen to lose track of time and forget to collect it, the staff would be happy to remind you.
While its concept, the ambience and the lake are all so beautiful, the food, for the price charged, was far from perfection. But, we suggest going to check it out if you're in the area – exploring this place itself is quite an experience.