To be perfectly honest, we were very pleasantly surprised by Mad Dog's Bodega. The food, ambience, and service were all pretty superb! If you're searching for it, it's within Heritance Negombo's restaurant complex named Banyan, placed across the road from the ginormous brown and orange hotel.
Drinks & Dining
Our expectations were pretty low because of our previous experience at Blue Tan, the main restaurant at Heritance (within the main hotel structure). However, MDB was pretty dang good. We started with a couple of cocktails, a Negroni and a Sex on the Beach, both at Rs. 990. We're not sure why cocktails at hotels the country over need to be so incredibly expensive, but we appreciated the fact that MDB included tax and service charge on menu prices. Their wine menu is pretty extensive too, with cheap bottles starting at about Rs. 4000.
Both cocktails were perfectly executed – no nonsense plasticky fruit juice and syrup concoctions here. The sex on the beach was refreshing, strong, and featured lovely peach schnapps and freshly-squeezed orange juice. The negroni isn't a complicated drink, but you need the right ingredients, which they did. Actual Campari and vermouth rosso got this drink tasting like a perfect aperitivo evening.
We opted for a manic variety of food, because we wanted to taste a bit of everything. We later heard their pizzas are great (between Rs. 870 and Rs.2000), but didn't have a chance to get some, so go ahead and leave your review in the comments section if you have.
My Caesar Salad with shrimp came out first, a filling portion at Rs. 1300 complete with fresh grilled prawns, crisp lettuce, lovely garlic-aioli croutons, and shavings of parmesan. Overall a perfect dish, but I'm not sure it justified the price tag.
We also opted for hot butter cuttlefish, because no bar meal in Sri Lanka would be complete without it. It wasn't the classic HBC you'd find at say Randoli or one of the other beach strip bars, but it held its own. Lightly battered calamari rings coated in a sweet and spicy sauce and topped with onion rings, this was crispy, crunchy, and delicious at Rs. 1000.
Next up was our shared main, Pork Spareribs at Rs. 1550.Don't let the picture fool you, this was a solid portion that sated both of us. Juicy, crispy, cinnamon hot smoked meat, with a lovely sweet chilli mango sauce, the crackling skin and succulent pork made for a delicious Sunday lunch. We might have preferred some light sides like mashed potato or salad with this though, because the pork overwhelmed us after a bit and needed some flavour juxtaposition.
To bring our meal to a close, we tried the pannacotta (Rs.870). It was ever-so-slightly tinged with lemongrass, and came with a nice biscotti. This was alright, but not quite near as yum as our savoury starters and mains.
Service & Ambience
While Banyan features a beautiful Banyan tree (what else?), the impossible perfection of the hotel's manicured lawn and the building's architecture come together to make it look and feel like a themed building in Disneyland or a movie set. Most of the other spots within the complex don't appear to be functioning yet (Rouge, and another that we've forgotten about), but MDB is fully functional.
Once inside, the interior is quite carefully curated – to a fault.
Both bodegas and mad dogs are known for their wild, rowdy, boozy, impredictability, but MDB's interior is a calm, soothing collection of elegant tables downstairs and couches upstairs.
Near the entrance, there's also a classy wine cellar section with a beautiful driftwood chandelier. Don't get us wrong, it's all very elegant and pretty – it's just not very mad or wild. Even the crowd is generally sedate and polite.
We'd strongly recommend Mad Dog's Bodega. It's expensive, but each dish and drink delivered. The ambience could be wilder (okay not as wild as Rodeo), but our overall experience was great.