Doug wrote, and I excerpt: "The chef is Sri Lankan, trained in Switzerland, and very talented. TripAdvisor has rated it the best restaurant in SMA."
They enjoyed it so much, that they returned for a second meal: "Sri Lankan food is a lot like Indian food, with their complex and dense use of spices to enhance the flavor. ... two of our best meals ever, and we can't wait to go back."
I was impressed by Doug and Kathy's enthusiasm (He even wrote his first review on TripAdvisor about it) and so planned a visit to Dila's on Tuesday, our last full day in SMA.
We were operating under some difficult conditions. Señora Cuevas was suffering from a very evil cold, and I was not getting enough sleep. So it was that we took a cab out on the sunny afternoon to — the wrong place. My fault, for not having read Doug's original email closely enough. After considerable walking and a second cab, we found the restaurant before frustration and fatigue won out.
It's decorated in a flamboyant style with vivid colors, murals of gods, goddesses and elephants. The chairs in the dining room were and solid and comfortable . Out in the cobbled patio area, the wrought iron chairs looked less comfortable.
Our previous experiences with Indian restaurants had left me unenthusiastic, but I realized that it was because we'd usually gone to those cheap, all-you-want-to eat buffets.
Our meal did not get off to an impressive start. Our waiter brought us a covered basket. When we lifted the lid, what we saw inside, ungraced by any cloth, were four small rectangles of flat bread. I almost laughed. The bread wasn't bad. The accompanying pot of yogurt was with shreds of carrot and more was good, but a more generous supply of bread would have been welcome. It wasn't until late in our meal that that the waiter asked if we'd like more, but by then we were done and the yogurt was no longer tempting.
|No further comment|
I'll get this out of the way here: our waiter was extremely attentive, really to excess. He would come to the table at less than 5 minute intervals to ask us "¿Todo bien?" He even checked to see if my wife's mineral water was "¿Todo bien?" This became distracting, and ultimately, annoying. I was at a loss as how to deal with it. I would hope that if and when we return, it's at a busier time, and he might have more customers to occupy him, or else we get a different waiter.Doña Cuevas got her wish for soup. The menu offered three, but the one Doug had praised, Sri Lankan Fisherman's Soup, was an excellent, yellow curry based soup, enriched with coconut milk. I had a taste and liked it, even though I'm not usually an aficionado of coconut milk. La Señora reported that it was very rich and moderately picante, although the seafood was not visibly abundant. A half portion might have been sufficient due to its richness.
|Sri Lankan Fisherman's Soup|
I ordered a humble looking dish of Sri Lankan Pasta with Yellow Beef Curry. Behind that modest appearance was an interplay of spices and flavors, which Doug described so well as, "complex and dense use of spices to enhance the flavor."
|Sri Lankan Pasta with Yellow Beef Curry|
Doña Cuevas enjoyed the soup but needed something lighter and refreshing. After some consideration, she wisely decided to get a Mediterranean Queen Salad. This appeared after a modest wait. It's a composed salad but the only thing Mediterranean about it are the four rolled slices of jamón serrano posted about the corners of a pile of variety lettuces. The Indian-spiced sections of warm eggplant and cucumber glowed with spicy tartness. Chef Dilshan came out to ask how we liked it and explained that he'd "flambeed the eggplant and cucumber with garam masala and white wine.". Very good. Todo bien.
Our cuenta was $375 pesos, plus tip; less than what we'd paid the night before at Mare Nostrum, but consider that at Dila's we'd not really had a full dinner.
We hope to return sometime, in better shape, at a busier hour, and try other tempting dishes.
Again, my ratings are tentative.
Service: ** (see above block quote)
Price: $$+ ($100s of pesos, per person)
Ambience: Vibrant, vivid, very colorful.
Restrooms: clean, but men's is very worn yet serviceable, and over twice the size of the ladies'.