I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
This may come as a shock but apparently some readers have difficulty interpreting the opening comments of my reviews. Many of them just want a “yes” or “no” recommendation in place of my customary preamble. So let me cut through the clever word play and self-important grandstanding and get to the point regarding Aruntha’s Ceylon Garden.
Is it good?
It’s F#$%#ing GREAT!
And I’m not dropping some provision or adding comments like, “now if only they could…” or “if you can get around…” It’s really damn good. Drop what you are doing and go. That’s it. Why aren’t you there now? Are you in the car? Are you reading this on your iPhone deciding between this and any other place? Go inside. Go inside this very moment. I’m not the first person reviewing this so why are you waiting for me? Like the bard from Safety Dance, leave your friends behind. Following that comparison, let me lead you all to the doors and—ah screw my metaphors, just go already. You’ve wasted like two minutes reading this review. Aruntha’s Ceylon Garden is amazing jewel and it absolutely needs your support. There’s nothing more for me to say!
Okay, maybe I’ll just keep going if you are in the restaurant now and don’t care for the company you are with. I don’t know the details, only unconfirmed rumors that Aruntha’s Ceylon Garden came about because of a split (alleged amicable) between the owners of Spicy Greens, leading to that brand expanding out to identical locations in both College Heights and Hart Highlands, leaving its old location on 5th Ave vacant. It was this vacancy the departed manager took advantage of, hence Aruntha’s Ceylon Garden. One aspect indicative Spicy Greens was a total lack of décor, almost a comical deficiency. At their new locations, they don’t look much better than an IHOP (that’s International House of Pancakes) a week before its grand opening. However, Aruntha’s Ceylon Garden (now forever compressed to ACG) has departed from this trend by looking like an actual restaurant. ACG looks to have only recently emerged from a major renovation. Exposed brick lends itself to a rustic bistro, though one still willing to offer comfort in some exceptionally comfy yet bouncy red and blue chairs. National pride hands from various paintings, one which occupies almost one entire wall.
The conditions of my arrival bear disclosure. My date and I were enroot to a dinner at Twisted Cork when I noticed the still illuminated “open” sign under ACG, surprising me given that it was past 9 PM. I did an immediate U-Turn and parked across the street. As we approached, the sigh turned off, but we entered anyway. The cook/owner/sole evening employee welcomed us and waited on our every need, the entire establishment to ourselves. She was gracious considering we were keeping her from home. The total cost of a dinner for two barely registered over $25, making ACG one of the best deals outside of Cyber Monday. This included two full courses and a shared appetizer of vegetable pakoras which arrived on a plate large enough to be defined as another full meal.
And it was good; it was so so good.
Perfectly spiced, crunchy, served with rice, poppadum, and fresh roti, the only other place I knew which did this was…well…Spicy Greens. And yet I have to admit liking ACG more. There is something more authentic about it. It truthfully feels like one woman’s passion for cooking turned inside out with a door for people to enter. After that hefty starter, neither of us could finish our plates, leading to enjoyable leftovers the day after. I really hope that ACG does well and it finds a proper following. If my writing means anything to anybody, then ACG deserves my patronage and your money. I want it to succeed.
OVERALL: 8.5 out of 10