The Grove is a recently opened spot in Hiriketiya. The area has of late seen a boom in tourism that has all sorts of new businesses flocking to take advantage of the flow of backpackers. The Grove is bit upmarket, and quite distinct on the Hiriketiya Rd. It's got a huge, open lawn and a strking looking brown main building. What also makes it special is its great food. Pretty much up there among the best on this stretch of beach.
We started off with the Salmon Bagel (Rs. 1200). It had cream cheese, red onion, popped capers and watercress. Yes, of course it had salmon as well. The bread was nice and crispy, the cheese was just perfect and the salmon was brilliant. The watercress was actually a nice touch. Full points.
The Smashed Baby Potatoes (Rs. 1100) came with marinated feta, mushroom, spinach, balsamic reduction and a nice poached egg. The dish had a great texture. We like the fact that they left the potato jackets on. It was great but a little on the boring side, more feta wouldn't have hurt.
Chia pudding was a bit too much on the sweet side as we took our first bite, but after that it grew on us and even started yielding some complex flavors. The menu claims it has seasonal fruit, and since ours included berries and strawberries, this left us wondering which season it was talking about and where. The coconut milk is a nice light touch, and the bee pollen, despite being a new agey cliche that boosts your immune system and looks great on the menu, probabably carried some weight in the taste too.
The Grove has a range of drinks to suit all needs, except alcoholic. The organic Lemongrass and Ginger Tea (Rs. 400) was excellent. The coffee was decent also, I had a flat white (Rs. 450) that tasted pretty terrific, though if you're a hardcore coffee conoisseur please let us know what you think.
They have homemade cakes that presumably vary based on what they feel like making. I tried their Flourless Orange and Almond Cake with rose water syrup and was kind of blown away.
To give you a sense of the clientele, I was probably the only Sri Lankan there for brunch that day. But Hiriketiya's visitors from outside still largely tend to be non-locals. The place is very welcoming though and the same goes for Hiriketiya as a whole, none of that mafia driven discrimination against locals you would encounter in a spot like Mirissa here (at least so far).
I like the outdoor seating area (which is like the only seating area save for a few places inside, but then again why would you want to sit inside?). The spaces are wide open and you can bask in the sun and get brown (browner, in my case) while you enjoy some spiffingly good grub.
Chatty and friendly, also fast and efficient.
If you're down in Hiri make some time for a meal at the Grove. The food is great, if a little on the pricier end of the spectrum. You get your money's worth though, so it's all good. The ambience and atmosphere is very tropical-garden like, and very tranquil.