I am constantly checking out restaurants in Bali, old and new, but always ones that are new to me! My system is to visit as many as possible, perusing their menu, and registering my sixth-sense about the place! Any of those that appear to have something going for them, go on my list for a real visit?..eating time!
From time to time, this pre-check can result in a quickening of the pulse as you react favourably and think that this one may be something special! Then later, comes the reality!
I had received a couple of e-mails from readers, telling me about the great things that a young French chef was doing at the Pansea Hotel in Jimbaran. I decided to check the place out, and visited to have a look at their two restaurants and check the menus. The result was that I could not wait to sample the fare at Nelayan, Pansea?s main restaurant right on the beach.
Arriving early, just as the sun was setting, I found myself, all alone, in one of the most romantic locations it would be possible to imagine. As darkness quickly descends, a row of oil lamps line the beach front like a row of centurians guarding you from the crashing surf a few meters away!
I thought of trying the Lobster Extravaganza! Five courses that commence with a Tropicana Cocktail [rums and juices], followed by the Amuse Bouche, thinly sliced lobster and avocado in a raspberry sauce. This is followed by a Lobster Ravioli in a Homardine sauce, and Medallions of Spiny Lobster in a Vanilla sauce. The little banquet is completed with a fresh strawberry soup with lemon sorbet! At Rp.390,000, I decide to try a more varied menu selection.
The Amuse Bouche was a perfect beginning. I had decided to bypass the wine list, as though rather extensive, I found the value [judging by the commercial Australian wines on it] rather poor! As food was the real meaning for my presence, I stuck to a simple Whisky Soda. I was later to seriously question my judgement!
The Lobster Bisque with Ginger, looking more like a soup than the usual creamy bisque, was strong in taste. It was accompanied by a pile of thin discs of toast, instead of croutons, which were a little greasy, and a most unusual combination; bowls of cocktail sauce, and parmesan cheese. At this stage I began to wonder from just which part of France our chef originated!
I had to order the Farandole of Shrimp in coconut milk, as none of the staff could explain what it was, other than `shrimp?! My curiosity still remains I have no idea what it means. Crispy little [minute] shrimp tails stuck out of miniature triangles of fried rice paper. No real taste, and again a little greasy!
The Fillet of Duck Breast was just that; one small, single, sliced duck breast. The meat was absolutely perfect, although sliced far too thin for my liking, and the sauce [honey and lemon leaves] a brilliant match! The accompanying vegetables comprised just a mouthful, or two! Three of the smallest snow peas I have ever seen [each about one inch long], a potato cake [panfried mashed potato] not much larger than a bottletop, and a small pile of diced mushrooms topped with a cherry tomato! All this for almost Rp. 200,000!
I prefer to eat small meals. Small and tasty, rather than gross and tasteless, anytime! But after three courses at Nelayan, I?m afraid that I was still very hungry. Dessert would have been an option, but a less appetising dessert menu, at a supposedly fine dining establishment, I have never seen before! Talk about mangled English??.how about a `pan sauteed thick pineapple paving macerated in rice alcohol??..you tell me what they mean? If it?s a drunken slice of pineapple @ Rp. 38,000, then I?ll pass on that!
So I decided to go somewhere else, to finish my meal!
Then came my bill shock! My three Scotch & Sodas [Red Label JW] cost a total of Rp. 381,000! I could have bought a cheap old bottle of Aussie red wine instead, after all! Although if you do have to have a drink before dinner, then do so at the adjacent bar. At least you will get a small platter of wonderful candied nuts [almond, cashew, peanut]. Hey, maybe that is why the drinks are so expensive!
On a subsequent visit [mineral water only] I enjoyed a much better value meal, by staying with seafood all the way. Also, by ordering an entree and two mains, I did not finish my meal in the hungry state of my previous visit. The Amuse Bouche was, as usual, very interesting. Scrambled egg in a thin pastry cup. However, I made the mistake of using my knife and fork to split the little beast in two, a mistake that was going to haunt me throughout the remainder of my meal, as the used utensils were placed on my side plate by the waitress. Without a word being spoken, she refused to replace them, and I refused to re-use them.
The Crab Croquettes are served with an avocado cream sauce, very good! The Prawn Ravioli consisted of very small shrimps inside not-so-delicate pasta shells, but served with a wonderful Homardine sauce. My main course was a Duet of Red Snapper and Salmon, served with an Orange & Thyme sauce. Alternate thin strips of each fish radiating out from a central mound of mashed potato, and a scattering of snow beans [looked just like the minute snow peas of an earlier visit to me]. All of the previous sauces had been excellent. This one, however, was far too sweet and cloying for my taste. Particularly as it was accompanying fish.
Interesting restaurant in a magic location, but at a price!