The Bistro has arrived in Bali.
The concept of a café by day, restaurant by night is combined with a smart chic design that is all very functional. You could be in Sydney, New York or any other modern western city. Black, white and chrome predominate. In the major cities this bistro style exists in busy office areas or in high rise upmarket apartment districts. The often attached grocer-deli the perfect source of those last minute quality ingredients to take home.
Marie Hewson has been doing this for years in Australia and has now brought the concept to Bali. Grocer & Grind is on a back street, off Jln. Laksmana, the café has been busy since opening day. Those in the know could tell at first glance that this is what they had been waiting for.
Early morning breakfast can be healthy [apple berry bircher muesli with curd yoghurt, milk and honey], simple [marinated fresh fruit salad with star anise and kaffir lime syrup], normal egg breakfast [Benedict, Florentine or just Eggs with choice of bacon, lamb sausage, mushrooms or rosti] or wicked [a hot & spicy Bloody Mary followed by Moroccan Eggs, soft fried eggs on pita with lamb sausage and hummus].
Your brunch, lunch or snack-anytime food can be a perfect Panini on Ciabattini, a Sandwich [baguette, grain or pita] or select from a variety of fresh salads. Three slices of crusty grain bread, scraped with tamarind chutney, are stacked and interspersed with fresh rucola, perfect slices of very rare beef tenderloin and ovals of camembert cheese. Style and taste! Soup is a tangy modern creation; roasted tomato and capsicum with basil and parmesan croutons.
For those who like to take their time and pick at tasty food whilst sipping their drinks or reading, then the Antipasti plate is the way to go. There are six options, order the one[s] you like or just get the Chef's Selection. Chargrilled Chorizo, Italian Meatballs in a spicy tomato salsa, a so tender Chilli Lime Squid and Arancini-herb & Mozzarella Risotto Balls that look dry but when split and doused with the accompanying chilli mayonnaise are wonderful. These are some of the Antipasti selections, and they are also available as an appetizer for the evening meals when at 6.00 p.m the lights go on and the cool casual café becomes a cool, casual restaurant.
Fresh Salads are popular here. Nicoise, Caesar [with chicken], Carpaccio and Caprese. Or you can have a Vegetable Stack with feta on rucola. The Prawn Cheviche consists of a conical wrap stuffed with king prawns and sliced mango tossed with coriander and roasted coconut, fresh clean tastes. Pastas can be light [Angel Hair Pasta with mixed seafood], heavy [Linguini with spicy beef meatballs], healthy [Mushroom Risotto with parmesan wafer and truffle oil] or exotic [Spicy Miso Broth with escalopes of chicken, green chilli, spring onions, angel hair pasta and deep fried tofu].
The Antipasti and salads are available day and night, as is a small section titled Comfort Food. No matter how adventurous anyone is, forever searching for new cuisines and tastes, they will always revert on a regular basis to what they know best, and comfort food is as good a title as anything. The all-conquering Burger heads the list, although here it gets a makeover [beef or chicken] with caramelized onions Swiss emmental cheese and honey mustard, closely followed by that Steak Sandwich, a piece of sirloin sitting on a slice of toast with rucola, caramelized onions and hummus with New York fries and chilli jam. No such menu would be complete with Fish & Chips, at G & G five juicy fish finger fillets in a light crunchy batter, a pile of thin chips on the side with a lemon mayonnaise. Simple food, simple tastes, but quality ingredients at reasonable cost.
The mains at Grocer & Grind also find themselves under that Comfort Food description. An enormous Australian Lamb Shank is baked in the oven and served with roasted garlic pumpkin, beetroot and crispy ginger leek. The meat falls of the bone at first touch, the price the most expensive on this menu, a crazy low $9. The Lamb Sausages are also imported form Australia, firmly packed with meat these have real taste unlike some of the other insipid sausages that are sold locally. The three sausages sit on a pea mash with caramelized onion gravy. An Australian Rib Eye Beef Fillet is accompanied by Portobello mushrooms and a Swiss potato rosti. A Grilled Chicken Breast sits on a risotto fondant, Asian greens tossed in apple vinaigrette. A friendly visit to the time warp sees Beef Tenderloin wrapped in bacon. Seafood can be Char-grilled Safriani Snapper with baked baby potatoes and a lemon butter sauce or Pan-seared Mahi-Mahi on a rice pilaf.
Dessert can be a Chocolate Samosa on a bed of minted yoghurt with pistachios and ice cream, Caramelized Apple Tartin with vanilla ice cream or a Creamy Vanilla Risotto with sautéed strawberries.
The wine list is struggling with the country's supply problem, the same as for every other restaurant in Bali. When this ridiculous problem is finally addressed in Indonesia, then Grocer & Grind will have the sort of wine list needed for this type of place, and like all of its products will also be reasonably priced.
An International café that reeks of professionalism, everything from the space design, attentive service, interesting menu and pleasing presentation and taste, finishing with a cost very cheap for the quality enjoyed. Not difficult to understand why this place has been busy ever since it opened. Great value and somewhere you immediately feel comfortable and relaxed, albeit for a lone dinner or snack or a casual but elegant meal with friends.