No. 82, Stratford Avenue, Colombo 06
This place has closed down
The Cricketers Arms is what we'd call an affordable fine dining experience with good food, great service and tasteful ambience. A worthy contender to the Cricket Club.
UPDATE: they don't seem to be serving alcohol anymore, it's just BYOB.
Cricketers Arms is the fine dining restaurant at cricketer T.M. Dilshan's newly opened boutique hotel, the D Pavilion Inn. We dropped in (twice in 2 days), and we'd say it's an interesting spot. The service is excellent, the food is ambitious and the drinks menu is very good.
As a note, both Bhagya and Indi accidentally went here separately so this is the combination of two reviews.
Fine dining isn't common in Sri Lanka, and it's loosely defined anyways. What we at YAMU define fine dining as is a place that pays attention to the intellectual, visual and taste aspects of food.
Within that definition, we'd call the Cricketers Arms comfort fine dining. It's not pushing the intellectual side of food too much, but they have big portions, it's not super expensive (Rs. 4,700 for two with mains and dessert), the plating is good and the service is excellent. The taste itself is not going to push your taste-buds anywhere surprising, but it is generally satisfying.
First, a shout out to the bread basket. At D's this is a generous amount of soft garlic bread, which is always a win. After the garlic bread, a few minutes before the mains are served, they give you a citrus and cinnamon granita which acts as a perfect palate cleanser to cut through any residual taste of garlic. Very smart.
As a starter we tried the crab cakes (Rs. 890), which actually comes as a sort of fried won ton. It's not what we're used to as a crab cake, but it was pretty good. Full of crabby goodness and cut by the acidity of the lightly pickled peppers.
For mains we tried the Australian Blade Beef (Rs. 1800), which is an Australian beef steak topped with crushed cashews, served with mash, veges and a pepper sauce.
We asked for it to be served at a medium temperature, and we'd say it was on point with just right amount of pink in the center with the cashews adding a nice textural crunch. From what we tasted they seem to stick to milder seasoning on the meats and let the sauces add the kick.
The roasted belly pork (Rs. 1190) was also pretty great, on both days. You get two sizeable pieces of roasted pork with a rendang sauce, mashed potatoes, carrots, beans, cucumber strips, broccoli and cauliflower. The pork was cooked well with a good a balance of meat to fat. The rendang sauce further enhances the flavour of the dish and adds the needed spice and heat to the dish.
Now for a bit of a fail, the Szechuan Beef (Rs. 740). This beef was so tough as to be almost inedible. On the plus side, however, the fellow serving us noticed that the plate wasn't finished, offered to replace it with something else and then, in the end, didn't charge us for it. Tough beef happens, but we were impressed by their response.
The poached pear in red wine (Rs. 580) was as impressive visually as it was on the palate. It's served with a red wine jelly, sauce and raspberries. The warm pear was poached near perfectly with the spoon cutting through it like a hot knife through butter with a little pocket of red wine sauce in the center. What really impressed us with the dish was how the cool jelly and warm pear worked beautifully together with the raspberries adding a burst of tang and sweetness.
The peach and passion fruit pavlova (Rs. 580) was also pretty good, comparable to that of the Cricket Club . Even though the peach flavour is quite mild, it worked pretty well with the passion fruit. The pavlova itself was baked well with crunchy base, soft center and a layer of fresh cream, all of which made for a good mix of flavours and textures.
We'll comment on this more when we review the bar (separately, this review is long enough), but they have a really good drinks menu. We won't get into detail, but they have Hendricks Gin and Fever Tree Tonic, which they serve with cucumber. This is basically the best gin and tonic in the world right now (in our opinion), and this is the only place we've seen that gin and that tonic available. It's just Rs. 720. Someone here knows their drinks.
The restaurant, just like the hotel itself, is simple yet classy, with a mix of white and gray walls, a smooth (cut) cement floor and wooden furniture. What's special about this place is the abundance of cricket memorabilia that's scattered throughout the walls of the restaurant, with everything from T.M. Dilshan's jerseys, signed bats and even a wall of signed leather balls at the bar.
While it all works very well, we did come across one problem which was the number of flies in the dining area which did become a bit of a nuisance, for which the management did apologize.
The service here is excellent. For us service is how staff responds to stuff going wrong, in this case a dish of rather tough beef. Their response was perfect; they offered a replacement and then didn't charge for it. This should be obvious, but that sort of service is surprisingly rare in Sri Lanka. The people there are obviously experienced and this gives us great hope that the place can evolve and learn from the mistakes every restaurant makes.
The people Dilshan has hired are smart, attentive, nice and professional. That more than anything gives us high hopes for this place.
The Cricketers Arms is what we'd call a good comfort fine dining experience. The food is pretty good, the ambience is nice and the service is excellent.
Coming down High Level Rd, past the Lanka IOC, turn to Stratford Avenue at the Kirulopone Junction. D Pavilion is down the avenue past Cafe Che on the right side.
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