*Please note that the prices of the dishes may have changed.
The Governor's Restaurant at the Mount Lavinia Hotel is one of the few hotel restaurants that offer real value for money. They revamped their menu a few months back and we came away feeling pretty good about our meal, especially that chocolate dome at the end. The service though, was a bit dissapointing this time around.
We got here by PickMe, which was conveniently right outside our office in Bamba, so it took us less than 20 minutes to get there during lunch time.
Mount has consistently impressed us with the likes of The Seafood Cove, the high tea and their lunch buffet which offers one of the best deals in town (especially if you like desserts). Their main restaurant, however, is the Governor, which has basically been rebooted from scratch.
The new menu offers Italian, Chinese, Indian, and European dishes as well as classic Sri Lankan by chef Publis. What we like is that they've kept it concise with around three to four items per cuisine. Prices are on the higher end depending on what you go for, so expect to pay around Rs. 2000 per head.
We started off by sharing a Thai chicken cobb salad (Rs. 500) which had a lot going on. This was a mix of different salad leaves, coriander, a bit of mint, tomato, cucumber and rossted cashews, served wih a respectable portion of roast chicken and a ginger-soy dressing. On the positive end, the chicken was cooked well with a good amount of seasoning and spice, the ginger-soy dressing was on point with a great balance of sweetness and acidity, and the elements like the roasted cashews and bean sprouts added that needed textural contrast . We did, however, feel like a few of the greens could have been more fresh, and also that the salad leaves to veggie proportion could have been more balanced.
Going through the menu, my eyes went straight to the roasted up country pork neck (Rs. 1800). This was one hearty portion that came with three sizeable cuts of pork neck stuffed with dried nuts and fruits, crackling, fries, roasted vegetables and a few batter fried rosemary sprigs. While Rs. 1800 is a pricey, you're getting a whole lot here, and I found myself stuffed from just the pork. I didn't really care much for the fries or the roast veggies which were a tad too greasy. However, the most important element – the pork neck – was cooked near perfect with a light and well rendered layer of fat, moist meat and a lightly sweet center with those dried nuts and fruits which had an almost pâté like texture. I also found myself loving those batter fried rosemary sprigs which were crunchy, armoatic and sweet. The presentation could have done with a bit more finesse though.
Our other main was the mutton rogan josh (Rs. 1500). Again, this was the most expensive of the Indian dishes, but it comes with so many sides that it almost feels like a steal. Those sides being papads, tomato pickle, raita, dhal tadka and a radish chutney served along with a naan basket. Honestly, we couldn't really find fault with any of the sides, but do be warned that the tomato pickle is incredibly sour. Balance it out with the creamy raita or the surprisingly tasty, sweet radish chutney. The dhal tadka was also a nice change-up from our local parippu preparations with larger dhal, a thicker consistency and a bit more spice.
Sides aside, the mutton rogan josh itself was flavoursome with a good mix of spices and well seasoned, tender mutton. The curry could have been a bit spicier in terms of chili heat but that's up to personal preference. The naan that came with it were on the softer side, but tasted as good as most we've had at Indian restaurants in Colombo. So all in all this is actually pretty good value for money, which isn't something we say often at hotels.
At this point we were quite stuffed so we decided to share a dessert, namely the chocolate & praline dome (Rs. 750). First things first, the description here was actually inaccurate since it says the dish comes with raspberry parfait and praline covered in a chocolate dome, served with a crème anglaise. However, what we actually got was chocolate mousse at the center of the dome, served with a strawberry and a mix berry coulis.
Name aside, this actually tasted brilliant. There was a great contrast both in terms of textures and flavour with the solid chocolate dome, smooth mousse center and the needed freshness from that tart berry coulis with the flavour of raspberry and blueberry really coming through. Mount Lavinia Hotel has always delivered in terms of desserts and this one was no different, we just wished they would have given us a more accurate description.
Ambience & Service
MLH is as close to the ocean as a hotel gets, at least here in Colombo. So needless to say, the view from the terrace is fantastic and makes for one of the best dining locations around. The restaurant itself looked great to begin with, with its high ceilings and white washed walls, but we're looking forward to seeing what they do with the place.
The service at the hotel restaurants have been more than satisfactory on our previous visits, but this time around we noted some clear areas for improvement. The biggest issue was that the two young waiters who took our orders were almost clueless about the menus. We appreciated the fact that they were friendly and attentive, but they were quite confused when we named the dishes without pointing to them on the menu.
While we did run into a hiccup with the service, the Governor's Restaurant made up for it with some flavoursome food. Our most impressive find, however, was that chocolate dome.