The rustic, picturesque Club Villa in Bentota (2 hours’ drive south of Colombo) is another example of the tropical modernism style of architecture much associated with the late Sri Lankan architect extaordinaire, Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2003). Club Villa was one of his earlier gems - a small beachside house dating back to 1880, carefully restored in 1979 in classic Bawa style, with the addition of a courtyard and extra rooms attached to the 2-storey bungalow:
The restaurant at Club Villa exuded a 70s feel, with its carved furniture. Its kitchen offers a choice of Western or local Sri Lankan delicacies. We opted for the Sri Lankan prawn curry dinner set - spicy-creamy prawn curry, served with a selection of curried vegetables, rice and pappadums.
Prawn curry with coconut milk - this dish closely resembles Keralan prawn curry (chemmeen thenga pal curry). In fact, South India’s Keralan cuisine is the one regional Indian cuisine which is closest to Sri Lankan cooking.
Okra curry (vendakkai puli kulambu) - I love okra/ladyfingers - the version here is cooked lightly, and didn’t have the slimy, mucousy quality I normally associate with this vegetable.
3)Mixed vegetable curry (hath maluwa) - a spicy-sour rendition consisting of long beans, carrots, and waxed gourd.
Gourd curry - one of my fave dishes that evening, creamy-spicy and with a subtle fragrance from the herbs and pandan leaves used in the cooking. It’s very interesting for us from Singapore/Malaysia (even Thailand) because, even as we use pandan leaves a lot when cooking - we never put pandan leaves into our curries.
Dhal curry (parippu) - the rendition here is pretty interesting as the dhal curry came in an orangey-red shade instead of yellow. It was not especially spicy, which made me wonder whether the chef used Kashmiri chili, the one pepper with a vibrant red colour and yet very mild in heat.
Pol sambol - the classic Sri Lankan coconut-chili-onion relish:
Desserts - a couple of interesting choices:
7) Buffalo curd with treacle (mudavāpu meekiri) - excellent rendition here, with a thick, very creamy curd.
- For comparison’s sake, we ordered its Western equivalent - a panna cotta, as our other dessert. This was served with slices of fresh banana and an evaporated milk sauce spiked with amaretto.
Overall, a very good meal indeed - spicy, flavoursome, with no compromise on the chili heat. I won’t mind eating here every night.
Club Villa Bentota
138/15, Galle Road
Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka
Tel: +94 342 275 312