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The Chef’s Table at Flamingo House: A fabulous feast!


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1 The place



Flamingo House is utterly delightful. A true haven in the heart of the city that one can escape into, with the world falling away as you enter through its doors. We love this space and the food it serves up in equal measure – there has never been a day when it has failed to delight. The heavy emphasis on freshness here means the menu is comparatively small, but it is complemented by a specials board which changes according to what’s in season and freshly available.

2 The person



Chef Mark Smith is the mastermind at Flamingo House and brings with him over 25 years of experience. “There are no rules when I cook,” he tells us, “and I use as many local flavours as possible.” His approach is to let the ingredients speak. “I keep it simple and use fewer ingredients so the main ingredient shines,” he explains, and shine it did in every dish he served us. He is not only a perfectionist, he is also utterly original – a perfect fit for this delightfully original place.

3 Flamingo Rosa



A blushed uplifting combination of vodka, lime, mint and plump raspberries: The seductress, she draws your gaze with her brilliant hues of red wonderfully layered through the maze of crushed ice, mint and lime. Brilliantly balanced and a must-try.

4 Kalinga Gimlet



Named after the founder of the Jaffna kingdom, this mighty cocktail is a blend of gin, lime wedges and basil leaves: Delightfully presented in a Victorian tea cup this has a nice easy-going vibe; one can hardly go wrong with gin and lime, but the basil flavour did not shine through as intended and this was the weakest of the cocktails.

5 Mirtilo Mojito



Portuguese for blueberries, this fruity twist comprises a blend of white rum, blueberry, fresh kiwi, mint leaves and lime juice: The berry take on the classic mojito formula. For the most part it lived up to the description; the sugary sweetness of the rum is complemented by the combination of fruits, with the mint adding a much-needed refreshing finish.

6 The Wodeman



A colonial aristocrat, James Wodeman was one of the first bureaucratic figures of Ceylon. This gentleman’s martini is a mix of gin, lychee liqueur and a dash of lychee juice: If the Rosa is the seductress, the Wodeman is the perfect companion; simplistic yet sophisticated, the epitome of masculinity all the while maintaining the classic martini base, heightened through the sweet lychee twist, served in a crystal martini glass. The Wodeman hits all the right notes at just the right moments.  

7 Seared spice crusted tuna with soy-mirin glaze, Asian slaw and picked cucumber



 Elegantly presented on a black slate, easy on the eye and the tuna is fresh, so fresh that we would have liked the crust to be a bit less overpowering as it took away from the tuna. The mirin and soy glaze was intelligently presented as a base to the tuna. The homemade pickle provides the hint of acidity that tries to balance the spice, but not to the extent one would expect.

8 Duck tortellini with shitake, ginger and scallion broth



Soul food. The duck tortellini has just the right amount of filling and is cooked to perfection, but the broth is the true star! Think of a combination of ramen broth and a Vietnamese pho – as crazy as it may sound, it just works. The only caveat is that we wish there was more.

9 Seafood rasam with local seafood, black pepper and tamarind leaf



 A hearty helping of seafood, cooked just right. The soup however left us a bit perplexed, it looks like a soup but tasted more like a Thai curry. To one of us it seemed like the chef went a bit too far with the coconut milk, but the other absolutely loved it. It was certainly one of the more interesting dishes of the night.

10 Hot toddy chicken with butternut squash, steamed greens and chillie jam



The pan-fried chicken thigh was cooked well, and we loved the crunchiness of the skin, which added a nice smoky taste. The butternut squash was wonderfully creamy and seasoned well. This simple dish is meant for the safe diner. Good balance of flavour and easy on the palate.

11 Pan-fried barramundi with new potatoes and oyster mayonnaise



This gorgeous piece of fish was the highlight from the mains. Chef Mark did an excellent job of searing it to perfection; every bite was an oh-so-tasty mouthful of the ocean. We loved the fresh oyster mayonnaise which heightened the sense of the ocean.

12 Slow-roasted pork with potato puree, mushrooms, spinach and house mustard



Local pork braised with love, the meat was so tender that it fell off with every prod of the fork, highlighting both its delicateness and the degree of cooking. The potato puree was a tad under-seasoned, but all in all a close second in the mains category. Crackling! We almost forgot to mention the crispy and juicy goodness of the crackling! A smile is never too far away when one is eating good crackling.

13 Squid ink fettuccini with prawns, tomato, chilli and basil



A nice clean dish, the tomato was light and flavourful, coating the fettuccini in just the right amounts, a very well-balanced dish demonstrating the delightfully simple combination of seafood sprinkled with chilli and finished off with the fresh notes of the quintessentially Italian pasta maker, basil.

14 Poached pear with ginger, saffron and coconut rice pudding



 Poaching is a great method used to infuse flavour, so it was no surprise when we were served with an expertly red-wine-and-ginger-poached pear. Tender and soft with a lovely hint of saffron, the coconut rice pudding was an interesting twist made with risotto which surprised us with its ingenuity.

15 Sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean ice cream



So soft, so warm, so so good. With a generous helping of butterscotch sauce to make it gooey and messy. Every bite is a mouthful of pure joy, the way desserts are meant to be.

16 Coconut and chillie panna cotta with mango and lime syrup



The Italian classic reimagined with a chilli twist; mango cubes soaked in sugar syrup and a mellow lime syrup that serves to balance out the spice hit, at the same time acting as a palate cleanser. This dessert is certainly different – in the best way imaginable.

Pix by Daminda Harsha Perera


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