In the beginning there was that unique beach house beside the temple at Petitenget that introduced Mediterranean cuisine to Bali, La Lucciola, and the multi-cultural Kura Kura at The Oberoi. Then, up on Jln. Kerobokan, Kafe Warisan began producing French cuisine to make us all smile with satisfaction.
That large area, between that main road and the beach, has quickly become the gastronomic centre of Bali. Everything from great Greek cheap eats at Mykonos, excellent Thai at Chitralada up to the elegance and style of ku de Ta. The Living Room and Hu?u do their own things, Da Fish for seafood, and new places are appearing almost every month!
And, of course, very fine dining at The Restaurant at The Legian!
What an unusual restaurant. An up-market poolside café by day,. The full length glass door walls have been opened to the fresh air, and the outside terrace is shaded with large awnings. By night, almost a colonial Asian ambiance, very stately, with long banquettes and high ceilings from which are suspended lazy fans, accompanied by discreet lighting. Only the open kitchen provides a modern touch, yet nothing seems out of balance. The impressive wine cellar, on the left of the entrance, augurs well.
During the day, The Restaurant has a light menu to suit the circumstances. A salad tossed with generous chunks of tender breast of smoked duck has been combined with a cranberry vinaigrette. The Shrimp Cocktail has avocado slices and pistachio nuts added. You feel like a sandwich? How about one of Smoked Salmon, and soft green asparagus? Now this is my type of diet!
The luncheon menu covers the spread between café, light meals and interesting mains. Semolina Paccheroni is served with baby Kailan, tomato, and a pesto coulis. The wok-fried Spicy Egg Noodles have been combined with shitake mushrooms and slices of chicken.
In the evenings there are two separate menus. Executive Chef Sean O?Connell uses small well-balanced menus that seemingly cater for everyone. There is the normal A la Carte, whilst the special Table d?Hote menu [Rp.260,000++ p.p. for three courses and a selection of teas/coffees] changes every second day [four times per week]. The normal menu is a mix of seafood and International dishes, plus an interesting Indonesian Banquet, that at Rp.220,000++ p.p., is very good value.
This unusual spread is ordered, and served, in three groupings. A fixed group of three appetizers arrive automatically; Grilled Calamari, Cajun style, served on a cucumber relish, Sate Lilit [spicy minced tuna on lemongrass skewers], and a Batavian style Soto Ayam [chicken noodle soup].
Then you must select three dishes out of five offered; Udang Kirang Pedas dengan Saus Kuning [chilli lobster in turmeric], Tumisan Udang dengan Saus Jahe dan Juruk Nipis [sautéed prawns in a ginger & lime soy sauce], Ikan Gindara Panggang dengan Sambal Mentah [seared spicy Monkfish, with a lemongrass relish], Ayam Panggang dengan Tomat dan Daun Jeruk [roasted chicken, green tomatoes and Kaffir lime] and a Rendang Sapi [traditional Sumatran beef simmered in well-spiced coconut milk]. Your selections are served with Osengan daun Sawi Hijan dengan Saus Bawang Putih [bok choy in garlic], Sayur Lodeh [mixed vegetables in a coconut curry] and rice.
Finally, you are presented with a selection of desserts; Talam Jagung, Dadar Kelapa, Passionfruit Chiboust, a yoghurt sorbet and a peanut chocolate Brownie.
From the International menu, you can start with Lobster Bisque that has the fragrance of tarragon, and a touch of aniseed from a dash of Pernod. Fresh, firm River Prawns have been tossed with ginger and spring onions in the wok. A Beef Carpaccio is rare slices of tenderloin, topped with shavings of parmesan.
A large tender chunk of Tasmanian Salmon is served with truffled potato puree, and a delicate champagne sauce. Steamed Gindara fish has been wrapped in banana leaves, and is served with red rice.
Lamb Chops, juicy and pink, are served with braised shallots, green beans and roasted potatoes. Succulent Medallions of Pork arrive simply, with a pile of shitake mushrooms. Grilled Tenderloin of Beef, exactly as ordered, is in a mustard jus and served with spinach and potato gratin.
On my visits to The Restaurant, the Table d?Hote menu included interesting entrees such as a Salad of Chicken & Liver, tossed with a ginger vinaigrette, and a Pumpkin Ravioli in chilli-coriander oil. The mains were just as varied; Rack of Lamb with a shallot confit and a basil risotto or Beef Tenderloin with bone marrow, grilled polenta and a red wine jus. Seafood dishes included Red Mullet, served on a puree of potato and olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a pesto sauce or a Baby Lobster with bok choy and a Sambal Mentah.
The extensive wine list is a pleasant surprise and it is even reasonably priced, for a hotel of this standard. Such gems include that wonderful grassy Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Australia?s award-winning Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay from the Margaret River. Solid Cabernet Sauvignons are from Vasse Felix and Moss Wood in W.A. and a Petaluma from the Coonawarra of South Australia. The red wine list is topped with a well-aged magnum of the famous Lindeman?s Pyrus.
As a novel touch, you may select from a small range of wines by the glass at Rp.80,000++, but three glasses [a white with your entrée, red with the main and a sticky with dessert] will only cost you Rp.150,000.
Elegant, fine dining at it?s best! Has anyone got a nice cigar?