Cooking Up Original Meals At Weligama Rest House
- The Joe Berger Column
A rest house, someone said, is meant to be your home from home. It mostly is perhaps more like your ‘holiday’ home as opposed to your principal residence with all its ‘mod cons’. Although talking of ‘mod cons’ are microwave ovens and fridges considered mod cons in ‘this day and age’. I must remember to ask Aunty Pat about that. Some of these rest houses are ‘real finds’ and most folk simply keep the information to themselves.
Weligama Rest House is one such location. It simply could not be better. The vast expanse of the superb Weligama Bay is there for you to take in from the balconies of your room or from the well maintained garden. Plenty of parking space and attentive and genuinely helpful staff helps make this a stop en-route to deep southern backwaters almost a delight.
Joe accompanied a friend – whose interests revolve around good food, luxury travel and government tenders – to the area of ‘rapid development’ better known as the Hambantota area recently. As we passed by Weligama in the morning, we decided that lunch was best had on the way back in Weligama.
As we approached Weligama on the way back, right on the sea front – known as the Weligama by-pass – our connoisseur of good and fresh food stopped at one of the many fresh fish stalls and made a purchase of fresh fish. About a couple of kilos. When the chap merely put the ‘catch’ in a couple of bags I was horrified: that by the time we reached Colombo the car would smell more like St John’s Fish Market rather than an almost new Mercedes S-Class. I was assured that was not the case.
Moments later we entered the Weligama Rest House and my friend asked the waiter to serve us cold beers and rice and curry. He gently asked if they wouldn’t mind cooking the fresh fish – part curry part fried – which was still in the boot of the Mercedes. Of course, Sir, no problem at all.
The superbly cooked fish curry, the pan fried fish was the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the traditional rice and curry we had. Large portions, with a number of ‘side’ dishes like pol sambol, freshly grated coconut, pappodoms, fried curd chillies with dry fish all conspired to make this an outstanding meal. They offered us curd with treacle but we opted to finish it all off with a nice cup of ‘strong’ Ceylon Tea. It was idyllic.
Since then we have stopped at this very nice place, to take in the marvellous sight of the Weligama Bay and the Rest House overlooks Taprobane Island which is of course the epitome of luxury residences. We have had afternoon tea with well made sandwiches and the ubiquitous French fries and very good tea. The sandwiches are best ordered toasted as the perennial problem of good sliced bread has yet to be resolved by any entrepreneur soon as one leaves Colombo. Weligama Rest House although it is located on a very large plot of land – making it perfect for a very much larger development – has just 4 guest rooms. That makes for a quiet night’s sleep. The rooms are slightly above ‘functional’ but does offer very good value for money. However it has a fully licensed bar and a wonderful dining room. Or you can opt to eat on the veranda although that may disappoint the waiting staff who are rather proud of their dining room. Some of the things though could do with some updating.
The toilets in the restaurant for example are really tired and could do with some investment. The smell of the ‘camphor balls’ is frankly over powering. The bars of soap need to be replaced with liquid soap dispensers.
All in all Joe Berger found the Weligama Rest House to be a perfectly sound stopover where the service is attentive, ‘good food served well’ and where the prices are really extremely good value for money. For surfers, the Weligama beach is one of the more reliable surfing destinations around.
With the advent of better roads in Sri Lanka, the Weligama Rest House can be considered a starting point for grander tours of the Southern province. (firstname.lastname@example.org) The Weligama Rest House is located on the main road to Matara on the Weligama By Pass. A meal for two is likely to cost in the region of Rs 1,500 and rooms start from US$ 15.