The state of Sri Lanka tourism hit a well deserved crescendo when Sri Lanka was voted top country for travel in 2019, only to face a damper owing to the recent events. It was truly a welcome surprise then, that a local establishment was selected as one of the hottest new beach clubs in the world for Summer 2019 by one of the leading travel magazines in the world, Conde Nast Traveler. Delectable food, fantastic drinks, impeccable service, perfect ambience, and unparalleled views certainly reaffirmed why Sugar Beach Talpe deserved a slot on the list.
Sugar Beach Talpe has been designed in harmony with its surroundings - taking nothing away from the exquisite view of the ocean but simply complementing it. Combining minimalist chic with a local touch, turquoise doors and the hue of the pool stand out against the crisp white colour of the space. Outside, canvas butterfly chairs, pool loungers, and day beds are placed facing either the ocean or the pool. Despite the weather not being the best for enjoying an authentic beach club experience, it still couldn’t take away from its ambience.
Food & Drinks
The gloomy weather on the day we visited called for a hot beverage, so I ordered a Cappuccino which was the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful vista in front of me. The slight bitterness of the coffee and the sweetness in the light and airy foam proved to be the perfect gloomy weather drink.
While the menu here is small - something I always appreciate - they do have a variety that makes you feel like you have a good few options to pick from. Their snack menu has many tempting items like Bruschetta, Chicken Buffalo Wings and Cassava Nachos. However, I decided to pick the Salt and Pepper Squid with aioli and chilli jam (Rs. 950), and I’m glad I did! The freshness of the squid came through with every bite, and it was fried to perfection! Even when I tried the squid after having let it sit for a while, it still tasted great! Flavour wise, I had no complaints either; for one thing, salt and pepper work like magic for squid, and two, the taste allowed the freshness of the squid to shine. Both the aioli and the chilli jam were great accompaniments. While I initially couldn’t decide which one was my favourite, my Lankan-ness kicked in and I found myself leaning toward the spicy chilli jam.
Burrata Salad, Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad and Watermelon Salad were the only 3 choices available for salad. I’d heard good things about the Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad with pumpkin and ginger puree, Japanese slaw and ponzu dressing (Rs. 1500) though, and decided to try it out. What was immediately apparent was the respect shown for the ingredients. Especially noticeable in the Snack and Salad I tried, the essence and flavour of the star ingredient was preserved, the rest of the ingredients simply complemented it, without being overpowering. The rare seared tuna retained its mild flavour and the sesame added a textural element to the dish. I would, however, have liked the Japanese slaw to have an acidic touch to it and felt it was a little too bland.
The mains menu had an equally varied, albeit limited, offering but the Fish and Chips with pea puree and chunky tartar sauce (Rs. 1550) beckoned. Another great item on the menu, it’s an ideally light meal to have before going for a dip in the pool or the ocean. Again, the fish was allowed to shine and everything else just helped elevate the dish.
The staff at Sugar Beach Talpe were fantastic folks; friendly and helpful, they made sure I had everything I needed without being overbearing. They are also happy to offer suggestions, should you need it.
In spite of the weather, Sugar Beach Talpe proved why it deserved a spot on the Conde Nast list of best new beach clubs, sitting comfortably on par with some of the most well-known beach club destinations in the world. Sugar Beach Talpe also frequently hosts events, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. From families to groups that are in Talpe for a fun day out, Sugar Beach is the perfect location.
What I recommend: The Salt and Pepper Calamari.
Toilets: Clean and spacious. They also accommodate facilities for those who intend to go for a dip in the pool or ocean.
Notes: Keep an eye out for MJ, Sugar Beach Talpe’s charming German Shepherd. A permanent fixture (at least I hope) at the venue, he might possibly be one of the best-behaved puppers I have ever encountered. A total beach bum, MJ can be found swimming in the ocean or sitting by the gate entranced by the ocean. He will also pose when he sees a camera. Not once did I see MJ attempt to get into the pool or even glance at any table that had food on it. Do say hi when you visit!
Would I go again? Fantastic ambience, good food and most importantly, MJ. There’s no doubt I will be returning.
Pics by: Rihaab Mowlana