The Talpe Beach Restaurant serves really sophisticated food in a beautiful location in Talpe (near Galle). While the nearby Wijaya Beach is famous for its pizza, we highly recommend this spot for what we'll call beach fine dining.
If you want a truly interesting culinary experience, the southern coast of Sri Lanka is in many ways better than Colombo. From Fortaleza
in Galle to Kingfisher
in Unawatuna, there are a number of interesting and tasty places to eat. To that company add the Talpe Beach Restaurant, a bit further down the coast.
TBR is different in that it's only a restaurant. They don't let any rooms and the space is completely focused on dining. The German chef has picked fresh and local ingredients and combined them in innovative and tasty ways which makes for a really nice dining experience. In our experience it wasn't cheap (we ordered steak for Rs. 2,900), but if you avoid that imported item, you can have a great meal for Rs. 2,000 a head.
The food is excellent. Really creative, flavorful and fresh. We started with the tuna tartare with avocado and cucumber pickle (Rs. 900). This dish came with generous hunks of fresh, raw tuna sandwiched around a layer of avocado, all served in a pleasing cookie-cutter circle. It was very simple, relying on the freshness of the ingredients and the acidity of the cucumber pickle to make it pop. It was refreshing, light and a properly classy appetizer. The quality of the tuna was first rate (they said the fisherman was literally next door) and the dish worked together to really bring it out.
For mains we tried the prawn, lime and curd risotto (Rs. 1,200). It was wonderful. The lime and curd pull the savory rice up and give it bite. The prawns give it a good meaty chew. It was all served atop a thin layer of excellent olive oil that bound and tied all the flavors together. A simple dish, simple ingredients, but prepared with an attention to detail that makes for a delightful experience.
The rump steak
We also tried the steak. This was seasoned perfectly but the meat, despite being imported from Australia, remained tough. Steak is really hard to do right in Sri Lanka and this preparation, while good, still didn't approach the tenderness of someplace like London Grill. We're comparing TBR to basically the best steak available in Colombo, but we're classing them as fine dining and that's the benchmark.
The grilled vegetables
The steak came with grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes as a side which we mention because even those sides weren't an afterthought. The grilled vegetables were prepared perfectly, given just enough heat to absorb flavor and salt but not too much, so they retained a good crunch. Again, a simple thing using simple ingredients, but attention to detail takes even a casual side to another level.
We should also mention that the plating was excellent all around. The dishes not only looked pretty, there was thought given to sauces, dipping, and how you'd be moving elements around the dish. The risotto had olive oil around the side so that you could customize how saucy you wanted to get, as did the steak. The tuna tartare gave space in the middle to mix the cucumber pickle in. Very smart presentation all around, and presentation that furthered the content of the dish.
They also serve beer and wine (we think, just had beer) and should have a liquor license for cocktails soon.
TBR (formerly Fleurts) is a beautifully designed building. The dining area is all set around a polished cement swimming pool with tables between columns and more casual seating on the beach side. The beach itself is beautiful and a good place to catch the sunset.
The beach directly in front isn't swimmable, but if you walk a bit we think it can be. Diners at the restaurant can swim in the pool if they like. Families seemed to be doing that. It's basically a good place to spend the day, especially if you're holed up at some other hotel. We, for example, were staying someplace inland but we were quite free to hang out at TBR through drinks, appetizers, mains, etc.
TBR is run by a couple (German we think) with the wife running front of house, essentially, and the husband doing the cooking. The staff are all genial and well-trained and pay attention to detail. For example, we struggle with food photography at times because a lot of restaurants are really dark, especially for outdoor dining. Without asking they brought a small wireless table lamp to the table, which really makes a difference whether you're taking photos or not. We also asked questions, changed an order, etc, no problem. Initially we thought the owner knew we were coming for a review because she was so welcoming and nice. But no, that's just the way she is.
The service we had was excellent and the owners are responsive and right there if you have any problems.
Talpe Beach Resort serves tasty, intelligent food in a beautiful location on the beach. We're calling this beach fine dining cause the food has high attention to detail and you can wear a swimsuit.
They have clam pasta in season, which is a rarity.