Stiff Chilli restaurants have a long history in Bali. The 1st one was in Uluwatu, set up by Aussie-Italian Rodney Holt, back in the 1990's. Others followed but the long term stayer of the group has been the little warung on Semawang beach, at Sanur's southern end.
Stiff Chilli on the beach was, earlier this year, taken over by another Australian, Rob Brierley. The site has been completely renovated without losing its beachfront charm. What was a garden area at front has been replaced by an elevated covered terrace with sports TV coverage, cleverly done far enough away from the restaurant proper that it does not conflict with diners.
The menu retains most of the previous Italian specials, much of the product still coming from Rodney?s CIBO factory. The breakfast list has been expanded as have the hours, as Stiff Chilli is now open from 7.00 a.m. every morning, for the divers and other early risers. More good news is that there is no stupid cut-off time for breakfast dishes, you can order yours any time of the day that you wish.
I love breakfast, and I often seek out ones that are different from the norm even though I am well aware that 80% of the world will always order Bacon & Eggs in some form or another. Here you can create your own breakfast, select your pair of eggs as fried, poached or scrambled, they will come with toasted ciabatta, then add whatever you wish from; mushrooms, hash browns, grilled tomato, baked beans, sausages and bacon. Or order the lot with Stiff Chilli?s Big Brekky, only Rp. 85,000++ and that includes juice and coffee.
Something different? Hard to go past Eggs Benedict, claimed to be an invention from New York but now truly international, with many variations from the original. At Stiff Chilli it is more of an Eggs Florentine as spinach is added to the ham, a perfectly soft yolk poached egg sits on top, covered with sauce hollandaise, all resting on slabs of toasted focaccia.
Omelettes are another favoured option. The Spanish combines chunks of chorizo sausage with tomato, olives, feta and red onion. Scrambled Eggs are with smoked marlin or you can have a Wrap; fried egg, bacon, hash brown and grilled tomato rolled in a thin pizza style wrap.
In Australia the Bacon & Egg Roll is just about the favourite ?breakfast on the run? for workday mornings. Here you can enjoy a much more leisurely Bacon & Egg Burger, relaxing by the sea.
The healthier options are also available; Smoothie Bowl of a Dragon Fruit, yoghurt smoothie with fresh fruit and granola. For all the homesick ones there is also Toasted Focaccia with peanut butter or vegemite.
Just a snack? The Tapas menu is perfect whilst watching the sports on TV; Stuffed Lombok Chillies [large mild chillies stuffed with cream cheese, mushroom, rice, parmesan and egg] American Sliders [mini hamburgers] or the very tasty Chicken & Mushroom Arancini Balls [crumbed risotto mix, a nut of mozzarella in the centre] lead the way.
Lunch or Dinner can begin with that Italian Classic, Antipasti Misto, a very substantial platter of cured meats, marinated vegetables, olives and other sundry items. Smaller plates are also available, just the vegetables or meats only. Alternative starters include Bruschetta [grilled garlic bread with a variety of toppings], or Carpaccio [herb-crusted tuna or peppered beef].
Going Italian and eating pasta go hand in hand. Stiff Chilli has many options. Seafood can be Spaghetti or Penne with prawns, Pappardelle of spinach and basil with seafood sauce or the unusual Spaghetti Drunken Marlin [smoked marlin and vodka]. Best for me was the excellent Prawn and Chorizo Linguini, the Lombok chilli, garlic, paprika and lime giving this dish its unique flavour.
Meat pasta includes the very traditional Spaghetti Bolognese and Fettucine Carbonara. Different and very interesting was the half moon shaped pasta, Panzerotti Pollo Funghi, the sachets filled with a chicken and mushroom mix, then tossed in the wok with sliced mushrooms, thyme and garlic in a cream sauce, very, very good!
For the vegetarians, a number of pasta choices using spaghetti, ravioli [spinach and feta] and penne. I like the Ravioli di Zucca ai 4 Formaggi, pumpkin ravioli in a sauce made from four different cheeses.
If you can handle a main after all that antipasti and pasta, then you will not be disappointed. The only surprise will be the price! All dishes are priced at less than Rp.100,000. For seafood, you can have Bintang-battered Mahi-Mahi or a Seafood Platter [single serve or one for two persons]. If you prefer meat there is Chicken Piccata [tender breast, marinated and cooked in lemon and white wine with capers], the classic Parmigana, flattened escalope of chicken topped with melted cheese and Italian salsa or the equally popular Saltimbocca, veal escallops with prosciutto and sage.
Then there is always an Italian take on that English classic, Bangers & Mash. They are topped with a tangy salsa of tomato, garlic, onion, chilli and olives.
The only way to finish a meal here is by sampling the gelato, definitely with the best and strongest fruit taste in Bali.
A more relaxed dining locale I can not imagine, even if you are not on holidays, you will think that you are! And such good value that anyone can afford to eat here every day!