Nugegoda is many things; a tuition hub, a buzzing spot for shopping, and a suburban centre for many offices and dingy bars. This city is gushed with many, many rice & curry spots and a few fast food outlets, but it has never been a place where you can sit down for a proper meal with a crowd and hang out. Which is why The Grove is a wonderful addition to the food scene in Nugegoda.
They have five active restaurants at the moment – Michaelangelo, Sath Ambula, Java Lounge, Mango Tree and Jack Tree. Aside from Sath Ambula, the rest are well-known names. Each restaurant has a dedicated seating space, but if you're ordering from more than one restaurant, they'll happily accommodate for that too.
The atmosphere here is a blend of classy and homey. It's like a fully furnished house flipped into what it is now. The cream coloured walls decorated with drawings are quite pleasing to the eye, and add up to the whole leafy vibe they've got going on here.
The corridors are equipped with fans, while the rest is shaded with giant trees, so there's no need to worry about getting roasted from the warm weather. The evenings here are much, much prettier, especially the above al fresco dining setup, with all the string lights hanging from trees.
And this is the co-working space.
Food & Drinks
Cooked well to be on the fluffy side, the rice wasn't oily and featured bits of carrot and spring onions in the mix. Its seasoning was quite mild, but the spicy gravy managed to salvage some flavours. The veggies in the chop suey were a little too cooked for our liking, while the devilled tofu was sweet and had an overly oily texture.
Encased in a crispy, deep-fried roll, there was a good mixture of veggies in the spring roll. However, the roll itself was quite thick, which seems to overpower the flavour in the filling. We ordered a side of Thai Green Chicken Curry (Rs. 400) which turned out to be the saving grace of this meal. The gravy was thick, beautifully green, aromatic and rich with flavour. Having soaked up all that taste, the chicken was absolutely flavoursome too.
This pizza comes from the Michaelangelo outlet. Priced at Rs. 1800, it has two sides – Spicy Chicken (Rs. 1800, half Rs. 900) and Marinara Seafood (Rs. 1800, half Rs. 900).
They're very generous with the toppings. The Marinara Seafood was loaded with chunks of chewy cuttlefish and plumpy prawns smothered in tangy marinara sauce, but not in an overpowering way. Topped off with sliced up onions and black olives, it was our favourite out of the two.
Incorporated with pieces of black olives, bell pepper, capsicum and green chillies, the Spicy Chicken side was colourful. It wasn't spicy as we hoped it to be, but delicious nonetheless.
Featuring a carpet of mozzarella and pizza sauce, the crust was crispy and incredibly thin. It wasn't strong enough to bear the pile of toppings sitting on top, but we really didn't mind.
This was the showstopper – the Pork Rice & Curry (Rs. 800) from Sath Ambula.
Sath Ambula is dedicated to crafting up rice & curry with a super authentic Sri Lankan touch, using organic ingredients they get from Saaraketha. They offer it as a buffet and encourage you to help yourself as you like.
Everything here was freshly made and well-executed. The curries were boasting with spices, the mallum was crunchy, while the potato was nicely tempered and sprinkled with chilli flakes. Sath Ambula does a brilliant Pork curry. Fabulously spicy with a good dose of pepper, it was packed with flavour. Plus, it's mostly meaty bits and not oily cuts.
This Brownie Frappé (Rs. 710) is from Java Lounge. Slightly grainy as it had been infused with brownies, it was refreshing. However, the brownie-to-milk ratio was quite off, so it tasted like milk than anything else.
Ordering food here is a bit of a process. Upon your order, the staff at the respective restaurant will provide you with a bill, and the payments should be done through the above counter. They will issue you a receipt of payment, which should be given back to the restaurant as a confirmation. If you're ordering from more than one restaurant, we highly suggest you collect all the bills from all the restaurants that you're ordering from and pay for all of them at once.
The food from Michaelangelo and Jack Tree were brought to our table by the servers, while the other two (Sath Ambula and Java Lounge) have self-service.
The Grove fills the void of one highly anticipated need in Nugegoda; a proper hangout spot. Its interior and ambience are simply awesome. Certain food vendors here have room for improvement, but the concept here is quite admirable.