We did a review on Garton's Ark as soon as it opened up and it's been about 4 years since that review. This time around we went on their Friday Cruise.
The cruise happens every evening, and boarding starts at 7 PM. It takes off at 8.30 PM and goes on for about 2 hours down the Kirulapona Canal. It's an international buffet on Fridays and costs Rs. 3000 per person including taxes and the boatrides.
The annoying thing is that in order to confirm your reservation you must deposit a 50% advance to their account due to only a limited number of seats being available. This is understandable, since it's a bit different from your ordinary restaurant on land, but still.
You can get to the boat through the Urban Wetland Park which is about a 500m walk and while it's not enough to work up an appetite, it really helps on your way back, after eating so much. Alternatively, you can also enter directly via Pagoda Road. In addition to this, they've got smaller boats that'll ferry you across to the ark.
This entrance also has parking.
As it was an International Buffet the food was pretty much what you would get at a normal hotel buffet. The starters were delicious with fresh and crunchy salads and freshly baked buns, which I loved!
The mains were 50-50 actually. The spaghetti and kottu were too salty for me. The kottu especially tasted like the frozen packs you would get at a supermarket although we were later told that the rotti is prepared fresh in-house. The lasagna was delicious and cheesy while the batter fried mushrooms were pretty average but not as crispy as I would have liked them to be.
There was also a cashew curry but it was nothing to rave about. Their veggies deserve a special shout out because they were perfectly steamed and seasoned well.
The desserts were just as good as the starters. The chocolate mousse was sweet with a thick with a creamy consistency, and the mini tarts were so good that I actually wanted more even after two. The fruits - just like the veggies - were fresh and ripe.
If you think Rs. 3000 is too much for a dinner, we agree. But that's not all you're paying for and to be honest, as far as cruises go, this is the most affordable cruise most of us could go on. The ride was so smooth that we hardly noticed we were moving. The restaurant inside could easily accommodate 85 people and another 40 above on the deck.
They had the most amazing playlist that night. Later on, we went to the deck and the music followed. Despite the fact that all we got for a view was overgrown sea plants and littered water, the cool, crisp evening breeze on your face hardly make you notice it.
Unfortunately, that only lasted so long because a Calypso band started playing and the whole thing was ruined. Not that they were bad, it just wasn't a Calypso night. We were the only people on board and you have to know your audience. When loud music and bongos start banging while you're enjoying a peaceful dinner with great music, it just kills the mood.
In term of service, it was excellent. The manager was really friendly and knew his way around the place. Since we were the only ones on board, needless to say, all the attention was on us so we got to experience an extra special service. Even at the buffet, you get the chef at your service, helping you with the food and serving.
They sail on a daily basis unless there are certain obstacles obscuring this process like storms, weather conditions and floods.
If you're ever planning to visit, I suggest you opt for the cruise 'cause why go to a boat restaurant if you're not going to cruise?
A boat restaurant and a cruise to enjoy a special night out.
Garton's Ark in Weli Park is an interesting place for a weekend dinner cruise. While the buffet is a bit expensive the experience of cruising in a canal boat should be one of a kind.
The Wetland Park is off the Nawala Rd, on the Nugegoda side. If you're coming thru Nawala, it's past the Open University and all the tile shops. If you're coming from Nugegoda, it's about 200m past the Supermarket Junction.