We went back to AYU after almost a year to see if things were any different. Check out Kinita's first look here. TL:DR she found it very promising but it was still a work in progress with some promising things still at the stage of promises (I'd say it was like the parliament, but that stopped giving even remotely promising vibes a long time ago).
While AYU seems to have clung to a lot of what made it stand out in the beginning, it seems to have also gotten lazy and decided that enough was enough. Self-improvement seemingly hasn't been on its list of priorities.
The restaurant claims to be open all day, but has set timings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so watch out for this. Best thing would be to call ahead before you go.
We went in for a late lunch (around 2p.m.) and found that the service was beginning to tire a little. Like for example, there was no one attending the cold cuts station, and no one turned up even after we asked. So no cold cuts for us.
There is outdoor seating too but when we went there, the chairs were folded up. And when we decided to go sit outside we had to set up the chairs and tables ourselves. Staff were friendly and responsive otherwise, but these massive gaffes left us really quite disappointed with the overall service. But maybe this was an off-day, let us know your experiences too.
The place has an upmarket feel but eschews stodginess. It doesn't look at all like a run of the mill hotel buffet, the food islands were artfully placed and dispersed throughout a wide space. There is a lot of natural light coming in and this gives the interior a warm and pleasant vibe.
The variety on display isn't mind-boggling, at least it wasn't during the weekday lunch hour we visited, but the restaurant seems to have picked out several areas it was good at and stuck to it.
The cheese, bread, cracker and jam station was exceptional, with a great variety of cheese and jam to choose from. The space had meats as well, but like we said above, no one was manning the cold cuts machine to give us any. And no one turned up even after we asked (repeating myself because actually peeved).
The salad station was dope. A quinua and dried tomato salad, combined with manioc chips and hummus had me drooling. Some of the items were a little hit and miss here, like the baba ganoush was a little too tangy.
Hits and misses continued throughout the rest of the buffet, but the vast majority of them were hits so the misses can be safely ignored, or accounted for taste. The continental section had some great mini-beefstakes, grilled chiken and fish but their potatoes failed to deliver.
The Sri Lankan section was excellent, there was a mutton curry in particuluar which was delicious. The devilled seafood didn't look too apetizing so I skipped that. But with red rice, dhal, curries and an army of 'rice-pullers' from papadams to more pickles than your pickle-obsessed aunty can identify provided this entire section with more local flavor than a lip servicing conference on reconciliation and diversity.
There was a small japanese section, which didn't impress too much. It contained salmon and crab maki rolls, they were alright, but lacked that melt-in-your-mouthiness that good sushi will give you. Being a fan of gari, I was disappointed at its overpowering vinegary taste. Overall I would give this section a resounding shrug.
The lunch buffet will set you back almost Rs. 3000 with service charge and tax, AYU also has an a-la-carte menu with items mostly in the Rs. 1000-4000 category.
The drinks menu has a variety of cocktails and mocktails specially offered by the restaurant. The Ebony (with cognac, butterscotch ice cream, nutella and oreo Rs. 1190) looked like a heart attack in a mason jar, so we tried the Kiwi Granate (Rs. 990) which comes with bacardi, pomegranate and kiwi. It was a little too sweet and too syrupy for lunch, or any other meal if you ask us. And at Rs. 990, a little steep for the medium sized glass it arrived in.
A nice place for a mid-range, satisfying meal, service can be a little lazy. The ambience and vibe is classy without being too stodgy.
The AYU has got its act together with food that is mostly good, and an ambiance that is easy and relaxed.
The shiny new Mövenpick Hotel in Colombo's main restaurant.
සිංහල දැන් මෙතන තියෙන හොඳම දේ තමයි ජනේලෙන් එළියේ පේන දර්ශනේ. ඉතිරිවා ගෙවන මිලට වටින තත්ත්වෙකට ඉක්මනට පොලිෂ් වෙලා එයි කියල අපි බලාපොරොත්තු වෙනවා.