Trying to cater for everyone, doing something different, but yet maintaining an overall high quality level must be very difficult to achieve in any restaurant scene, let alone in Bali. Casa Luna, in Ubud, makes just an attempt and comes out of it reasonably well. This is a very large restaurant, spread over four different areas. Hence a lot of staff, both in front of house and in the kitchen. All of which must make it even more difficult to achieve an overall standard of excellence.
The large menu is roughly divided into Indonesian and International dishes. As this is one of Ubud?s better breakfast venues, it also carries a separate menu for that, including special Sunday Brunch treats of Eggs Benedict or Blueberry filled cornmeal pancakes.
A Red Bean soup is different. A blend of beans and spices, that have been topped with guacomole and yoghurt. Alternately there is a Pumpkin & Sweet Potato soup, whose ingredients have been combined and simmered with the addition of nutmeg.
The Luna Spring Rolls are vegetarian ones, wrappped in a filo pastry and served with a sweet chilli sauce. Feta Calzonette is a crsip tortilla that has been filled with feta cheese. This is served with a tomato and chilli relish. The crunchy shell, the large ball of feta and the tangy relish, all combine rather well.
Laksa Ayam is chicken that has been simmered in a coconut milk curry with lime leaf, Malaysian- style, then poured over glass noodles, bean sprouts and topped with fresh mint.
There are eight different salads including a Vietnamese Chicken Salad, crispy salad combined with grilled chicken, and topped with fresh mint, ground peanuts and a shrimp-based dressing. The Smoked Marlin Salad is strips of same, with potatoes, rucola, avocado and a caper mayonnaise.
A Jungle Chicken is a flattened, Portuguese-style, chicken breast that has been marinated in a variety of spices. It is served with tasty little corn fritters, salad, and a papaya-lime sambal. Or you can have your chicken Tandoori style. This comes on a bed of lime-scented rice with coconut chutney, yoghurt and salad.
A Grilled Tuna, nice big juicy chunks, arrives atop a pile of diced and barbecued tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. It is topped with a tapenade [olive paste] and pesto sauce. Too often, in Bali, Tuna comes as a dry flat cutlet. Here it is anything but, and quite perfect!
Casa Beef is a marinated grilled slab of beef, served with a herb-garlic butter, salad, potatoes and crispy onion rings. I had to try it, but when it arrived I was puzzled by the fact thebutter on top was not melting. Problem soon solved, unfortunately the meat was virtually cold. And when you have great chips [cut from real live potatoes, not reconstituted powder] and crsipy onion rings, why place the juicy meat over the top of them to then make them all soggy?
Sometimes you learn more from a place during a small hiccup, than you would have otherwise. Whilst I still ate most of my meat, the combined flavour of the marination, meat and herb-garlic butter being most unusual, the partial remains were still noticed and commented on by the staff. They were genuinely concerned, and quickly offered a replacement dish, which I did not really need. This sort of reaction would be taken for granted in any western city [even though it does not always happen there], but for Bali in a very moderately priced restaurant, I was aggreeably surprised and quite impressed.
So much so, that I returned a few days later to try the Casa Beef once more, this time ensuring that it arrived at my table at a reasonable temperature. I was not disappointed, it was great! But I wonder when the heating of serving plates is ever going to become normal procedure in Bali. In many places the distance between kitchen and serving table can be exceptional. At a very expensive Italian restaurant on a recent visit, our meals were virtually ruined as all the hot meat dishes arrived stone cold! There, unfortunately, the staff reaction was one of totally indifference!
Casa Luna also has a Pepper Steak, the creamy pepper sauce done in the accepted French style. Amongst their Indonesian dishes is an Ayam Kalasan, grilled chicken that has been marinated in roasted tomatoes, sweet chillis and kaffir lime juice. This is served with yellow rice. The Spiced Coconut Fish is a most unusual dish. Fresh fish that has been marinated with sweet chillis and served with a cucumber rice. A coconut milk sauce tops the fish, and a tomato-chilli sambal is on the side.
Desserts are mainly ice cream and sorbet oriented, but the very fruity frozen yoghurts are perfect after dinner digestives. Then there are the wonderful offerings from the Honeymoon Bakery. They include the Lemon Cheese, Apple Crumble, Lime Tart or a Tiramisu Torte to die for!
Casa Luna has an excellent wine list with 12 whites [Australian and French] all priced at a very reasonable Rp.200,000. This is supplemented with 9 red wines [Australian, Californian and French] priced from Rp. 200-350,000.
Still a great place for that Sunday Brunch! Eggs Benedict very good [apart from the use of bread instead of a muffin].