Sugar Beach is a new restaurant on Mount Beach with elegant and mostly excellent food and some powerful drinks. For those of you wondering, this used to be the ever popular La Voile Blanche which changed management earlier this year.
The new Sugar Beach fills a void in Colombo, great beach dining. The location is a bit far from the center, but Mount is one of the more swimmable beaches in Colombo, and the food and ambience here are generally great. You'll note a few spots for improvement in our review, but overall we recommend.
The Roasted Pumpkin Salad (Rs. 1150) was beautiful. The salad greens and pumpkin are evenly distributed, making the texture a balance of crunchy and soft. The feta croquettes very efficiently complement the simple balsamic vinaigrette seasoning.
Eating that salad raised our expectations for the Sugar Beach Benedict (Rs. 1100) of which we'd heard great things. But to our disappointment the beetroot cured salmon tasted like it had been accidentally dropped in a bucket of salt and then forgotten about for days until being used for this dish. This was a pity because the dill hollandaise sauce and brioche, between which two succulent poached eggs rested, was otherwise brilliant. So much so that even the overly salty salmon didn't stop me from eventually destroying this thing.
The menu has Middle-Eastern (the Shakshuka looked nice on the next table), Continental and even Sri Lankan (the Pot and Pan Crab looked interesting, but we went for the Benedict instead) vibes. But the separate section for pizzas drew our eyes and so we ordered the Spudnik.
The Spudnik is appropriately named, because it feels as strange and spectacular as space flight coming out of a closeted rogue superpower. At Rs. 850 it delivers a lot of bang for buck. More than anything the kitchen must be complemented on making such a great-tasting dish simply out of pizza dough, potatoes, caramelized onions (which is what really brought the party to our tastebuds) and truffles. Let me also add that the cheese on this thing was sparingly used and just right.
With nearly everything else on the dessert menu being unavailable, we went for the Churros (Rs. 800). If you've tried the churros at Sugar Bistro you'll find that these taste like their fatter, crunchier and even more sugary cousins. Churro purists probably won't appreciate the overly sweet flavor and overly crunchy texture. And would probably scream in despair at the strawberry sauce it came with.
A dizzying range of beverages greet you as you open the menu, they've got coffee and chocolate, organic herbal teas and plain old tea if you're into hot drinks on a (usually already pretty hot) beach. Also fresh juices (including blends), shakes, iced coffees, your usual range of carbonated beverages and cocktails, which also come in pitchers, yay.
To start with the non-alcohol, the Gotukola and Green Apple Juice (Rs. 500) goes down really well. It was fresh and felt like swallowing a crystal clear waterfall from somewhere in the hill country.
The Spiced Pineapple Bellini (Rs. 1400) (left) has star anise, cinnamon and orange oil in a sparkling wine base. Unfortunately it tasted too much of pineapple concentrate, and there was a tad too much alcohol in it. Even my more alcohol inclined friend refused to finish it.
The White Sangria, which comes only in a pitcher (Rs. 3400) had a white rum base with peach and sauvignon blanc with lime, mint and citrus soda on top of it. It tastes rather more like a mojito than your typical sangria, but is actually quite alright if you ignore this. Pitchers are probably enough for 3 people to get nice and buzzed.
We'd heard mixed reports about the service and understood that Sugar Beach seems to still be getting its act together in that department. Overall, we had no complaints except for some really long delays in getting our food. The churros took so long we'd wondered if they'd forgotten our order. When it finally did arrive though, it came with two complementary glassess of bubbles and apologies. This was really nice of them. Apology accepted.
The first time I encountered Sugar Beach SL, through a video someone had shared on facebook, I didn't realize it was in Sri Lanka. Sugar Beach, to its credit, has subsequently color corrected its promo material to reflect a more local demographic ( see their Vday video for example, where I might have actually teared up a little).
Sugar Beach could have easily turned into just another Monsoon/Botanik-esque establishment with a vibe so upscale that you don't even need bouncers to keep the rabble out, but it cleverly avoids this trap by seamlessly integrating into the environment around it.
A minimalist, new age aesthetic dominates the space, which is open plan and spills out onto the beach. Guests can eat a relaxed meal in between dips in the ocean, enjoy a spot of sun (unless you actually live on a tropical island), do a bit of reading and catch up with friends/family.
Humid days might mean a few flies here and there, but that's hardly the fault of Sugar Beach.
The food and drink was definitely more hit than miss. So if you're going to be a regular, find out what you like and stick to it. The service is a little up-and-down at the moment, but Sugar Beach is trying hard and if they fix their little quirks they could become a powerhouse. We'll be back to try that Benedict again soon.