Almost anyone who has visited Brussels in Belgium will have walked down Rue de l'Etuve, just off the Grand Place, beside the luxurious Hotel Amigo, to observe the famous Mannekan Pis, a small statue of a boy urinating, sculpted way back in 1619.
Bali's newest restaurant is obviously Belgian, the name inspired by that same cheeky little boy.
Restaurateur Yannic Van Meckeren has traded his long-time successful restaurant in Brugge in Belgium's north-west for Mannekepis on Raya Seminyak, but many things remain in common, including a number of Belgian specials on the menu.
The menu itself is strangely divided into two halves, Western and Global. In reality the sections should be called European, and Non-European.
I am always looking for interesting entrees, often preferring to order 2, 3 or more of them and sharing many different tastes than the routine 3 course norm. Look no further!
Pan-fried marinated chicken livers are served cold with Rucola in a tart red wine vinaigrette, sliced caramelized apples and strawberries. Sauteed Prawns are on a bed of baby lettuce leaves with onion, bacon and a raspberry vinaigrette added. Shrimp and Chicken Dim Sum [3 of each] are an unusual addition for a western restaurant, steamed Chinese dumplings, in steamer on a base of thin noodles with a Japanese wasabi-soy dipping sauce. The Tuna Spring Rolls [light and crisp] come with a traditional sweet and sour. Escargots de Bourgogne are oven baked snails in a garlic herb butter.
As this is definitely a drinking bar/restaurant an important part of any menu is their 'finger food'[. Bar food, or even table food if you are there more for a drink and chat rather than a meal, should always be finger food. It must be edible with just the use of fingers or a small fork, but never requiring anything else. Grilled Sardines and Calamari Rings [or Prawns done the same way] crumbed and deep-fried with a cucumber yoghurt dip are suitable for a start. As are the Vegetable Samosas, triangles wrapped in rice paper rather than Indian pastry, stuffed with curried potatoes and peas, mango chutney on the side. Nachos, that dish found in every American bar, is here [tortilla chips in a mix of refried beans, chilli con carne, guacamole and Mexican salsa].
If it is interesting any time of the day snacks you are looking for, Mannekepis has much to offer. There are also Mexican offerings on the menu with quite a few variations. Quesadillas are tortillas stuffed with cheese and onion, a Chilli con Carne Wrap sees that combo wrapped in a flour tortilla or alternatively there is a Chicken Fajitas Wrap, a stuffing of spicy pieces of chicken breast, peppers and onions.
The name Mannekepis creates a Belgian theme and the menu follows suit, although definitely from the Belgium North, Flemish country! Gentse Waterzooi is a traditional Belgian cream broth stuffed with pieces of chicken, potatoes and other vegetables. Hamrollekes are a mix of ham, leeks and mashed potato, covered with sauce Mornay [a bechemal sauce with grated cheese added], Belgische Stovers is that always popular Beef Stew in black beer, the accompaniment Belgian Fries of course. Belgian Stomp is pork sausages combined with puree of carrot and pork jus. Borrowed from over the border in Holland is Shoarma. Originating in Egypt and varied by the Greeks as Gyros, shavings of lamb wrapped in pita bread, it has since been adopted by the Dutch. Here with garlic, mint and chilli sauces.
One of Belgium's most popular dishes for its millions of visitors is a simple Tenderloin Steak, perfectly grilled, with freshly made Bernaise sauce, and those golden crunchy Belgian Chips [French Fries]. Simple known as Steak Bernaise, it is on the menu at Mannekepis, and proud they are of their 'a la minute' Bernaise sauce, and rightly so too! You can also have your steak [tenderloin or sirloin] with a variety of other sauces and accompaniments even the classic French Gratin Dauphinois [sliced potatoes boiled in milk then oven baked in cream and cheese].
Most of the seafood dishes are in the 2nd half of the menu, a few featuring black tiger prawns. They can be had tossed with Fettuccini in a spicy Ricard cream sauce [the flavour of aniseed is perfect with any shellfish], Diablo in a spicy cream and tomato sauce or in a Thai Red Curry sauce. Mahi-Mahi is served Cajun style.
Dessert, apart from a few standards, and all better than average, features a Sabayon, one of the great products of high Italian cuisine. It is nothing more than eggs whipped with sugar and white wine, intensely sweet but incredibly luscious. At Mannekepis it is served with fresh strawberry and vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with that distinct Italian almond liqueur, Amaretto.
The wine list is still limited but growing by the day as we recover from the nation-wide shortage. The service level here is quite surprising for a new establishment, once again highlighting the management expertise and experience. The fresh young staff are eager to please, but do not interfere. Unfortunately they can not yet accept credit cards, coming soon.
With most of the mains on this varied menu under Rp. 60,000 [that is $6, barely enough for coffee and toast in the rest of the world], and the quality excellent, Bali has gained yet another great value establishment. The soft sounds of Jazz and Blues continually waft through a quality sound system, great background.
They just keep on coming!