Artwork for Better Parenting Top Banner 1
Artwork for Better Parenting Top Banner 2

5/5

Hideaway Villas

Panama Road, Arugam Bay


Hideaway is the best restaurant and probably the best hotel in Arugam Bay. It has excellent food and accommodation and thoughtful family management.



When it's in season, Hideaway is possibly the best restaurant in Sri Lanka. It's also a charming place to stay. If you're in Arugam Bay, this place is a must visit.

Arugam Bay is quite far from Colombo (at least 7 hours) but the amazing waves, general beauty, and magic of the place have made it popular for decades, even when it was quite inaccessible and, at times, war torn. Hideaway has been there for most of Arugam Bay's modern history, starting from the late 1970s. The grandparents no longer actively manage the place (as far as we know) but their children and grandchildren generally run the show. 

The new generation all have experience in the hospitality industry abroad, which shows, but they also have a deep connection to Arugam Bay, which really matters in that town. The result is a hotel and restaurant with a lot of character and very high standards in terms of produce, cooking and service.

The Food

The dinner menu at Hideaway is limited and changes often, depending on what produce is fresh and in season. We think this is a practice more restaurants should follow. This means that you're starting with the best possible ingredients, which are then prepared lovingly. The emphasis on local and seasonal produce is becoming standard among top chefs worldwide, and Hideaway is one of the few places in Sri Lankan that does it. 

Note that these were tasting plates of everything, actual servings are bigger.

When we went they had jumbo prawns (Rs. 1,950), which were huge and fresh, as you can see above. They came with crushed potatoes, salad and a flavorful herb garlic butter. The preparations are simple but done with real skill and restraint - the prawn is perfectly cooked, the potatoes balanced on the edge of mashed and the salad adds just the right amount of acidity. I ended up using my hands to claw out the tasty prawn meat like an animal, but it remains an elegant presentation.

My favorite dish was actually the pork tenderloin, wrapped in bacon and served with chorizo (Rs. 1,850). Basically a tender pork explosion, balanced with cauliflower and vinegar crusty potatoes. Really nom.

Another excellent dish was their lemon chicken pasta (Rs. 1,550). Simple dish, but with a strong emphasis on flavor. The pasta was positively popping with the flavor of tarragon and parmesan, carried by a strong brown butter. 

Finally, we tried the tuna Nicoise (Rs. 1,550). Now, this is a dish I usually don't like because the tuna can easily be overcooked or not fresh enough, and because the vegetables are often just thrown in there. This is where the focus on fresh produce pays off. The tuna was perfectly done and delicious and the tomatoes, cucumber and olives in an anchovy garlic dressing were bright and delicious. 

Now, honestly, our review should stop there. There were other places to cover in Arugam Bay and we should have gone there for other meals. However, we just kept coming back to Hideaway.

Their breakfast and lunches are on more of a fixed menu, and they're also delicious. This is the Portuguese Baked Eggs (Rs. 750), which is like a Middle-Eastern shakshuka, eggs on top of a tomato and sausage base, served with crusty bread and butter. 

We also tried the tuna medjar (Rs. 1,750), a perfectly cooked set of tuna steaks on rice and chickpeas with a tart salad. Filling and delicious.

Above is our favorite dish, a humble butternut squash appetizer. This simple dish, covered with pomegranate and fresh greens was bursting with meaty flavor, all perfectly balanced. This is also a good place for vegetarians.

They also do nice waffles.

We ate more but we'll stop here for lengths sake. It's all good and all surprising, it really depends on the catch of the day and how the garden is growing. They also do a standard rice and curry most every day, and there are excellent drinks at the adjacent bar.

We can't guarantee that you'll get what we ordered but, as mentioned, that's the charm of the place. You'll get something fresh and creative but also filling and generous. We love this place and can't recommend the food highly enough.

Location

The restaurant it housed in what was originally the family home. You basically eat on the large verandah.

It's a nice dimly lit scene, cooled by the gardens all around. 

Hideaway isn't actually beachside. The beach is across the street, but Hideaway itself is set in a long, dense garden space. You walk through a canopy to get to the restaurant itself, and there's a bar with floor seating just before.

Like the food, the space itself is about the natural surroundings first, with just the minimum amount of human input to make it comfortable. It's essentially just a family dining room set in a verdant garden. During season, reservations are recommended.

The Service

Hideaway started as a family retreat. Now the adult children run the restaurant and the (also adult) grandchildren run the bar and coffee shop out front. They all have experience abroad and the place has an excellent standard of hospitality. You get the warmth of a family run place, but it's also highly professional. The staff are trained well and can answer questions and converse in general, we've basically never had issues here.

Conclusion

Arugam Bay is a place you can get lost in, and Hideaway is  - for us - the center of Arugam Bay. After a day of surfing or beach hopping (or doing nothing, as in our case) the verdant gardens are an escape within an escape. At the center of the garden is Hideaway's restaurant which is possibly our favorite on the island. Their emphasis on fresh produce, skilled preparation and generous flavors and portions makes it a must visit during season (from June to about September, generally).


TIP

Have dinner there.

Address

Panama Road, Arugam Bay

Directions

Heading down Main Street, Hideaway is across from the big Bay Vista, down from Tri Star and just before Gecko's. It's on the land side.

Contacts

E-Mail Facebook Website

Report Inaccuracy
See 8 Comments