Rooftop Grill & Wine is located on the top floor of The Anantara Seminyak Hotel. On the ground floor is their acclaimed Thai restaurant Wild Orchid. RGW is a grill bar [large variety of meats and seafood] but also has a very special Spanish menu, Catalan style. Thai and Spanish cuisines have one thing in common, neither could be called bland. Both have flavour in abundance though they are vastly different, and both cuisines often use a mortar and pestle to extract the full flavour from the ingredients.
At Rooftop Grill & Wine the International menu contains all the grill options. This review is only about the other menu, Spanish mostly from the region of Catalan. Courses can be selected individually choosing either a two or three course option. Included in the standard price is a glass of Chilean red or white wine or that Spanish creation Sangria.
Your choice is from 5 entrees, 5 mains and 4 desserts. Oh, so difficult! At least a first visit generates the immediate reason for an immediate return. Or you can do what we do; all order different dishes and share. Then you know what your favourite dishes are for the next visit
Gambas al Ajillo is one of the first Spanish dishes that newcomers try. Whether it be a tapas version served at the bar or as an entrée in a restaurant. So different from the norm which is usually small shrimps floating in a bowl of sizzling garlic and oil! Not so at RGW. The often over-strong garlic flavour is muted here as the large fleshy king prawns are seated on a seafood bisque, delicate and succulent, garlic shavings added.
The Gazpacho, that traditional Andalusian iced vegetable soup is another Spanish special. Here it is chef Mateo's own Catalan version, red wine vinegar being an unusual component. Again different from any other that I ever had. The soup bowl has a light pastry envelope topped with a fine mix of zucchini, anchovy and paprika. The soup, much thinner than normal, you add yourself.
Red Back Tuna is enhanced with cabernet sauvignon and vinegar and is served with a chilled emulsion of black olives and pressed black olive paper. The Catalan style Vegetable Mousse [Escalivada] is grilled vegetables topped with anchovies and red onion vinaigrette. The eggplant, peppers etc., are peeled and sliced after grilling.
Fish Soup is labeled 'Costa Brava' style. It combines a variety of seafood with seafood ravioli in a very rich broth. I have never tasted squid so tender and soft, with not even the slightest hint if rubber! In a break away from all the Catalan dishes is a pure Andalusian Mussels dish, marinated and steamed in dry sherry.
The mains are highlighted by an incredible Lamb dish, Cordero de Leche Asado en Ascuas. The young lamb is slowly braised on the bone and served pink, with a timbale of rice stuffed with shreds of sautéed spinach, soft raisins and pine-nuts.
Chef Mateo considers his chicken dish to be his best. A real traditional village recipe has the chicken first stewed then combined with poached lobster [a baby from Lombok, insert your fork and the flesh almost falls out, soft and tender] spread all over is a very Catalan picada sauce, added on top a paste on crisp bread, almonds and meat juices crushed together in the mortar.
Sirloin of Beef is roasted with Spanish demi-glace and served on a bed of pureed potato with white truffle oil, gratinated with aged cheese. Whole Baby Snapper is oven baked and served with roasted potatoes, onion and tomato topped with crushed nuts and sea salt crystals.
No Spanish restaurant can escape the Paella, that creation of Valencia. At RGW the seafood version is with sofrito [finely chopped garlic, onion and tomato sauteed in oil]. Whilst Paella can be with meat, seafood of a mix of both it is the seafood one which appears to be the most popular.
Spanish desserts are very sweet which should suit the Bali palate. Their crème Caramel is infused with rum, Torrijas de Castilla is a sponge bruleed with honey, served with light custard. A rich Dark chocolate Fondant is served with a strawberry sauce and ice cream and chef's masterpiece is an Aged Olive Oil Ice Cream garnished with crisp sugar bread. This is a dish that he says was inspired from a visit to the world famous El Bulli. It is a most difficult dish to describe other than calling it ultra smooth, naturally oily but in a pleasant way. The very crisp biscuit-like bread, not that sweet, you can use as a left hand shovel to assist the spoon as the delicate mixture quickly melts. Unique!
An incredible wine list, for this day and age in Bali, offers something for everyone. Add to that pleasant friendly service that is very professional and views across the ocean if you are early enough to catch the magic Bali sunset.
The Rooftop Grill & Wine restaurant is totally different to all others in Bali. Arrive late afternoon to catch the best sunset show in Bali, background music by the DJ of the day as you sprawl on the lounges sipping your cocktails, then as darkness descends move to the open main restaurant end of the roof, from where the DJ music becomes soft background, and gaze down at the floodlit white sands and blue waters of Seminyak beach.
A classy way to live!