Once upon a time, restaurants in Bali were limited to local warungs and international catch-all restaurants with the something for everyone menu.’ Even restaurants with a strong cultural identity would still offer an ‘Indonesian corner.’ These days more and more restaurants are being courageous and sticking to what they do best. The fabulous Made in Italy with its authentic regional cuisine, and the newly opened Prego at Westin (which offers a generous Sunday Italian brunch buffet) are great examples, and pave the way for others to follow. The growth in the Indonesian fine dining scene also continues – a trend that started a few years back with Sarong and is now found in the the grand dining hall of Merah Putih, and Mejakawi at Ku De Ta which offers the most refined Jimbaran-style fish and sop buntut on the island, complemented by excellent cocktails and wines.
The degustation menu is as popular as ever, and Teatro Gastroteque leads the way with its divine Discovery Menu paired with wonderful wines. Predictions are that the ‘tasting’ concept will trickle down to the mid-range market. Let’s hope so! The rising popularity of tapas is a sure indicator, from El Kabron to La Finca, everybody is getting in on the ‘sharing act,’ but these days tapas is hardly limited to Spanish fare. The inspired sharing menu at Cuca in Jimbaran uses 100% Indonesian-sourced ingredients – an ample reflection of a growing trend that favours local organic produce. As the government now bans many imported food items, we will surely see more and more restaurants following suit.
Fun-themed restaurants are also popping up all over the place, from the gloriously kitsch Motel Mexicola, to sexy Charlie – with its fabulous townhouse setting and cheeky cabarets. Red Drum is Bali’s first African-inspired restaurant, while La Favela with its retro décor and eclectic assortment of antiques seems to celebrate everything from granny’s parlour to a Spanish bordello, and we hear that their next venture, La Laguna is in final planning stages. We can’t wait!
Vegetarianism is also on the rise world-wide and restaurants here are increasingly catering to non carnivorous customers. Rumour has it that Kafe – the iconic vegetarian café in Ubud is opening a branch in Canggu early this year, as are raw food masters, Alchemy, who specialise in sublime raw chocolates and desserts.
Homesick expats are loving the rise in the baking scene (pun intended!) and the fact that we can now get authentic continental-style bread, thanks to Monsieur Spoon who has just opened his third outlet on Oberoi. Casa D’Angelos also offer a huge array of Europeanstyle breads, cakes and pastries. Living Stone Bakery on Batubelig is still under construction as I write this, and indicates even more baked goods to come. It is also huge, which seems to be the way things are going along this stretch of ‘eat street,’ like giant Barbacoa Tequila bar. Is bigger better?
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