Reef is beachfront at Sanur. Historically most of the more popular restaurants in Sanur have also been found facing the long reef-protected beach. Sadly the majority have been just local warungs, all more or less with identical menus.
Reef is different. It is a high quality professional restaurant offering a range of International dishes, many with Asian touches. Seafood predominates as it should in a location such as this.
The prices are very reasonable, unusual when you consider that this restaurant is the all day one at a 5 star hotel, the Maya Sanur.
The action begins at 7.00 a.m. with a very extensive buffet breakfast. At Rp.195,000++ [$14] it makes a breakfast by the sea a pleasant alternative to your daily routine.
Lunch offers many small and tasty options as well as larger meals for the very hungry. What a better way to start but with a cold Gazpacho. This one is made with a watermelon base, well spiced, with crab, peppers and mint added. Spicier is their Tom Yum Goong, this version much closer to the Thai traditional than usually found in Bali.
A Vietnamese standard in Bali is the fresh Spring Rolls, rice paper wrapped around prawn [with nuoc cham] or a vegetarian mix [with nuoc tuong]. A refreshing salad is one of Fennel and Orange, with rocket, olives, citrus labneh, mandarin and sea salt. An interesting picking plate [big enough for two persons] is their Mediterranean Platter of marinated mixed olives, labneh, hummus, parma ham with melon, octopus salad, grilled vegetables, crusty rye and flatbread. All the breads are baked in house and are excellent.
Yes they serve Burgers, either chicken or beef and the sandwiches on offer are distinctively different; King Prawns on rye sourdough bread with fennel, caper slaw and rocket leaves or Grilled Haloumi and roasted vegetables in a panini.
As with most seaside restaurant throughout the world you can order simple Fish & Chips, but with this one the beer-batter is perfect. A Whole Baby Snapper is fried to a crisp and is served with 3 different dipping sauces. Pick of the seafood is Sesame Crusted Tuna, it sits on a bed of cold soba noodles that have been doused in a sauce of soy and mirin. If you have never tried cold soba noodles before you do not know what you have missed! I could make a meal of them alone.
For the non-seafood brigade there is a Herbed Chicken Schnitzel with a tangy mustard and apple coleslaw. The Pork Ribs are finger licking, flavoured with lemongrass, a salad of green mango and cashew nuts keeping the recurring Thai theme going. Pastas, Pizzas and Grills round out this extensive luncheon menu.
Dinner time offers options slightly more grand. The soups set the standard. Roasted Duck in a star anise broth with dumplings and ginger. The French Shallot Soup has truffle oil, and a carpaccio of scallop and basil added. The Tuna Sashimi is Bali style, fresh slices of tuna marinated in a salsa of the ingredients of that popular Balinese staple, Sambal Matah; lemongrass, kaffir and shallot, with lime-chilli ice. A salad with a difference is Bresaola [thin slices of air-dried salted beef] with grilled pineapple, star fruit, grapes and cress, a dressing of roasted walnuts and gorgonzola croutons, very international.
Banana Blossom salads are common on Thai menus but this one is with Peking duck, prawns, lemon basil, fried shallots and crushed peanuts. Another dish with a Thai Heritage is the Coconut-crusted Prawns, they sit on a salad of pomelo and cucumber with shredded coconut in a chilli sauce that has a nice kick.
Heading the seafood options is their Grilled Lobster with Nori-miso and lemon brown butter, asparagus and creamed potatoes. The Red Ginger Chilli Prawns and Squid are wok fried with galangal, garlic and lemongrass. But the star of the menu for me was the red rice crusted Tasmanian Salmon on curried green pea puree with sea scallops and a kaffir coconut buerre blanc. I was amazed by both the size of the serve [big enough to share as are most of their mains] and the fact that the salmon is actually fresh, not frozen, pre-ordered and flown in every day. The salmon perfect and the quite strongly curried pea mash so good that it demands sopping up with the wonderful crunchy bread rolls. At a price not much more than what is often charged for finger-sized portions of this great healthy cold-water fish.
The non-seafood options are also interesting. Duck Leg Confit on braised Du Puy lentils, with sage and root vegetables is wonderfully traditional. Flame Grilled Angus Sirloin sits on lemony mash with charred artichokes & asparagus, and kalamata chimichurri [of Argentinian origin, chimichurri is normally made with finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar]. An Indian touch is the Tikka marinated roast rack of lamb, with sautéed green beans, sweet and sour pear chutney and sweet potato masala. Rosella salt dusted pork escalopes and belly is served with zucchini flowers filled with goat cheese & spinach, rosella chutney and jus.
You have to keep reminding yourself that this is Sanur, dishes of this complexity and at this value unheard of in years gone by. This is a great example of how Bali has 'come of age' as a dining destination. The big difference between Bali and the other world tourist destinations is the low prices here [even in a 5 star hotel] and that Bali smile!