The Plantation Grill design is a throwback to old colonial days. It looks and feels like a formal dining room from the days of large plantations, in the awful slave era. It has high ceilings, large windows overlooking the sea, clusters of banquets and stiff shirted waiters.
The food is however, as modern as you can get, another feast of taste from Rob Marchetti, although much more subdued that what he does at the mezzanine level of this hotel at the wonderful Seminyak Italian.
Salads are in two styles, as an entrée or side dish, or as a main course. That is unusual for Bali but a good idea. Entrée size includes Beetroot [very good, with salt baked baby beets, goats cheese and pistachios], Red Quinoa or the Marchetti special of a new version of that American standard, the Caesar Salad. It contains Cos lettuce hearts, Sourdough croutons, crisp Pancetta, tiny crisp fish fritters, Reggiano Parmesan flakes and special dressing. If you prefer a main sized salad then choose between their Tuna Belly Nicoise, Steamed Seafood or Warm Chicken Salads.
Cold appetizers begin with a range of tartars. Raw Tuna is with coconut cream, grape tomatoes, lime, mild green jalapeno, crisp shallots and young coriander. The house special is named 'Ceviche meets Tartar'. A mix of salmon, grouper and barramundi is combined with fennel, honey-bee pollen, mint and sterling caviar, served with Melba toast of garlic and herbs. A high quality Steak Tartar completes the list. It uses pasture fed Australian beef [not from intensive feed lots], sliced raw and mixed with free range egg yolks, chives, pickled Shimeji mushrooms, Dijon mustard and capers.
Also cold is the 3 Prawn Cocktail [Manta, Tiger and Vanamei], they are with watercress, iceberg lettuce, tomato jelly and cognac, the horseradish cocktail sauce really gives this a lift.
Prefer some caviar? Here it arrives by the jar, packed in ice, salmon caviar with crème fraiche, young purple basil, water spinach blinis, wasabi, lemon and lime.
Hot starters begin with a very Australian special, that of cooked oysters. In the 60's many quality dining rooms actually employed an Oyster Chef, there were so many variations available. The dining room at Melbourne's Hotel Australia was renowned as a world leader of same. Marchetti offers an Oyster Florentine, 4 oysters topped with steamed lemon spinach, garlic and Pernod, the sauce a blend of gruyere and parmesan. The plate of oysters is gratinated in the wood fired oven.
Other hot starters can be the simpler Crab Cakes [avocado, palm heart and chilli] or Shrimps 'n' Grits; pan-fried shrimps with Jamon Iberico, parsley, garlic, lemon and black truffle grits. The San Francisco Fish Soup can also be ordered as an entrée or a main. Mussels, clams, prawns, shrimps, crab and fish combined in a well-spiced tomato broth.
Bali is currently experiencing a hamburger invasion. Plantation Grill gets into the act with its 8+ Wagyu Burger, served on a toasted brioche bun with onions, tomato, gruyere cheese and mustard pickle. Also on a brioche bun can be a steak Sandwich or Slipper Lobster [sous-vide] with coleslaw, coriander and baby basil.
A non vegetable side is their Black Truffle Macaroni & Cheese, which combines macaroni with a 4 cheese white sauce, garlic chives and pork pancetta.
The mains are served stand alone, all vegetables must be ordered as sides. They include Paris Mash, Hand Cut Fries, Parmesan & Lemon Crumbed Onion Rings, Minted Pea Mash, whole peas mashed with lemon thyme and butter, or Steamed Rice, pilaf style.
Some of the more impressive main offerings are served for 2 persons. These include an incredible Leg of Lamb, cooked in a paper bag for 6 hours, served with lemon and oregano potatoes and horseradish cream. Other dishes for 2 are the Shirokin Wagyu Sirloin [a 9] and a Giant T Bone, thick cut from dry aged grain fed Black Angus.
Singe portions from the Black Angus include Rib Eye [300g], Eye Fillet [200g], or Minute Steak [180g]. Or you can have the New York thick cut Sirloin [350g], still on the bone. All the steaks are cooked on the wood-fired Grill as are the Tiger Prawns and Whole Snapper.
From the wood-fired oven comes another selection of meat and seafood dishes. A Pork Chop [thick cut] is with sweet and sour yellow peppers, currants, pine nuts, sprinkled with rosemary and drizzled with 10yo Balsamico. Seafood can be Rock Lobster [Thermidor] or Sea Bass from Chile.
The Duck and Chicken are both spit roasted, half a bird being one serve. The Quail is also spit roasted, partly boned [just leaving the legs and wings to hold whilst devouring]. The Quail has been stuffed with a mix of sourdough, smoked ham, sage & parmesan, served on Paris mash swimming in a delicate foie gras quail sauce. Excellent, definitely a dish of haute cuisine! Dining at Plantation Grill is an expensive meal of definite fine dining in a setting that is not very Bali, for those who are looking for that. Worth experiencing!
At the end of your meal it is nice to retire to the well appointed smoking room [a larger area than many entire restaurants] with its scattered arm chairs, high ceiling and white shuttered windows, so colonial! What better way to complete a fine dining experience than with a quality cognac and a Cuban cigar. Memories recur of doing this many times in days of old, but then in the main restaurant area after completing your meal.
You order your drink of choice, and light up. Moments later a very officious Maitre d' appears, from nowhere [had not been sighted in the restaurant during a 2 hour meal], to inform that you must extinguish your cigar. Earlier polite questioning of the waitress had resulted in a very Bali 'no problem'.
NO Cigars allowed! Smoke anything else you want but no cigars. Seems very churlish to me! It reminds me of the blind Jose Feliciano's song of protest after visiting England for the first time [No Dogs Allowed] and having his guide dog prevented from entry!