The Pergola restaurant in Sanur has been a bit of a mystery. It is stylish yet simple and not overdone, pleasantly air-conditioned, and conveniently located. It began life with an English bent; Sunday Roasts and 'pretend' table cooking [dishes cooked in the kitchen but flamed at the table], but that ceased a few years back.
Now Pergola presents a menu that is totally Asian, with a little bit from the cuisines of many different areas. And I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised at both the quality and the price. Now if you are expecting Rp200,000 dishes for Rp.50,000, forget it that does not happen anywhere. But at Pergola today you get an interesting and tasty main for around the 40-60,000 mark which in 2009 in Bali is sensational value! Not only that, but the dishes are different from what is served elsewhere, not just the usual copies. Interesting innovation always makes a change
The lunch menu is much smaller than the dinner one but a few dishes are common to both. Even though Pergola does not open till 11.00 a.m. they do have a breakfast selection for the late riser or brunch seeker. French Toast Pergola style [cinnamon, vanilla and palm sugar] or the full works with Poached Egg, Hash Browns, Crisp Bacon, Tomato and Spinach.
Luncheon entrees or anytime snacks include a Pergola Tapas Plate of fried bean curd, soya bean, small spring roll, a corn fritter, chicken sate and chicken wing. Their Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll is unusual and very good; the dampened rice paper is smeared with hoisin before being covered with a leaf of iceberg lettuce then layered with dry vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts and prawn meat, rolled and doused with the traditional sauce. The Thai Fish Patties are not Tod Man Pla but rather a fish pattie with Thai spices, two large flat ones that sit on a tasty mix of fried rice and bean sprouts.
Mains for lunch [and dinner if you wish] include a surprising Pork Neck Steak. Obviously slowly cooked so that all the fat has disappeared, the resultant round of meat is both tender and full of real taste as only those secondary cuts of meat can be. An apple based sauce littered with thin shavings of raw apple only adds to this dish.
A silver bowl of Chicken Pineapple Korma is very northern Indian in taste. A mild creamy curry of coriander, cumin and yoghurt, the chicken pieces soft and tender, slices of pineapple adding a slightly sharper edge. Once again a totally different taste to the more usual Indonesian milder than mild coconut milk curries.
The Snapper with Potatoes boiled with saffron, lemon and capers added, is the way fish should be, fresh and firm to the touch, but rarely is. The dinner menu also has a Steamed Fish with a cardamom sauce and another Snapper dish this time served with crisp skin and rosemary potatoes.
One entrée 'left over' from the old more English menu is their Stinky Starter; poached mushrooms tossed with lumps of English Stilton cheese, cream and garlic. This is served with crisp sesame bread. Tastes great but they are right, your breath does smell, but who cares?
Other evening mains include the Pergola Chicken, stuffed with smoked salmon and topped with an asparagus and white wine sauce, and a number of Pasta and seafood creations [Spaghetti with mussels or Linguini with smoked salmon].
Sizzle Platters are very Chinese and amongst those turned out from the wok are a Pork with black bean, Beef with chillies, Chicken with pineapple and Tiger Prawns with ginger. Local Balinese offerings include a Crispy Duck, that sharp tasting Ayam Pelalah [shredded chicken with lemongrass, chillies and Kaffir lime] an all-time favourite for those who like their food with a bit of spice, and a perfect Babi Kecap [this one with soy, star anise and ginger]. Pepes Be Pasih [grilled fillet wrapped in banana leaf with spices] and a spicy Udang Pedas [prawns with chilli and coriander leaves].
The staff are long-serving, young and friendly. Eating is always more pleasant when you are surrounded by smiling faces. The wine list at Pergola is limited as it only includes wines from the restaurant's owners, the Hatten family, so eat local and drink local.
All in all Pergola is a pleasant place to eat in a relaxed, smart but casual style, with great taste and at amazingly small cost. An every night sort of place.