Bali is full of surprises. When it comes to exploring different eating-places, not all of those surprises are pleasant. Too many times somewhere that looks interesting turns out to be a disappointment, the food, the service or just the overall value lets you down. Other places you drive past many times and, for no valid reason, never seem to try them out. When you do test them you kick yourself for not having explored them earlier.
Green Garden Cafê is one such place. A most pleasant building, a little out of the way, it fills the corner position at the approach to Tuban beach, adjoining the good value Green Garden Beach Resort & Spa, and sharing their gardens and swimming pool. It is exactly opposite the entrance to the BaliHai Resort [the former Holiday Inn].
The first thing you notice, upon mounting the wooden stairway to the first of two decks, is the very professional kitchen behind the glass wall. No dirty little local warung is this place! Although from the amazingly cheap prices on the menu you could be confused.
The menu items are very western, although some have that Asian touch. There is quite an extraordinary variety of those anytime snacks, light meals and much more substantial ones.
Green Garden Cafê opens, every morning, for breakfast at 7.00 a.m. The Indonesian Breakfast is good value at Rp.15,000: Nasi Goreng [the fried rice is with sliced vegetables and topped with a fried egg], and coffee. But the Rp. 22,000 American Breakfast is incredible; Eggs any which way with sausage and ham/bacon and your choice of French fries or baked beans, toast, fruit juice, fruit salad and coffee.
The Spring Rolls are short ones and many of them, definitely finger food, the wrapping thin and crisp just the way I prefer them. The dipping is in a sweet and sour sauce, real finger-licking good! Fish Cakes [the Indonesian Otak-Otak] have been grilled in a wrapped banana leaf and come with that tangy peanut sauce. The shrimps in the Cocktails and Salads are fresh, firm and tasty.
The omelettes are excellent, plump well stuffed and rolled in the western fashion. The Spanish Omelette is full of sliced vegetables and mushroom, another is stuffed with chicken, cheese, ham and mushroom. Fu Yung Hay is the Indonesian Chinese offering; a flat omelette of chicken and pork coated with a sweet and sour sauce.
Snack time is well served at Green Garden with a variety of sandwiches, Chicken Nuggets, and Burgers [chicken, beef or fish]. Everything here is a substantial serving size, and all come with many trimmings, particularly the Steak Burger. A good selection of Rice and Noodle dishes include an unusual Thai-style Beef Noodle, a little bit if a bite as well, and the Chinese I Fu Mie, crispy noodles that have been wok-fried with shrimps, meats and vegetables. Many of the main courses are in the Rp.20-25,000 range, quite amazing! Such as a traditional Vienna Schnitzel or Beef Stroganoff. There are many different pasta dishes [spaghetti, fettuccine, fuseli and pasta shells], Chicken [fried, grilled or sauteed, with chilli, sweet and sour or butter sauces], Fish [braised, deep-fried, grilled or as a curry] and a variety of rice and noodle dishes.
The excellent Grilled Spare Ribs [with a soy sauce] are prepared on the barbecue at the front at street level. So are the satays [chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or calamari], and the good value steaks [your choice of local or imported meat; fillet, tenderloin, sirloin or T-bone].
The Indonesian part of the menu includes quite a few Chinese dishes, including one I always like, Koloke, simply battered chicken pieces in a sweet and sour sauce. Or you can have your chicken slices saut¡¦d with chilli, if you prefer. Fish can be English style Fish & Chips or grilled with olive oil and colo-colo [an specialty of Ambon; shallots, chilli, tomato and lemon juice]. Hidden on the last page of this excellent and most illustrative menu is a little special, an excellent Sumatran Beef Rendang, although a little mild for my taste.
Shrimps or big King Prawns can be served the usual ways, sweet and sour or chilli, or the very popular hot plate of King Prawns that have been saut¡¦d with garlic and veggies, and served with chips [French fries for you Americans].
Desserts include those Indonesian Ices that the kids love, and some adults as well. Large cones of shaved ice covered with pieces of jelly and fruit, cream poured over the top! Pancakes also feature in many forms [honey & lemon, pineapple and banana]. A bit different is the Mocha Ice Cream with Avocado, chocolate sauce and ground peanuts, as is the Deep-fried Ice Cream with Arak!
The wine list is limited, but very reasonably priced, as are all the drinks here, even the cocktails. For those who want something different quite a array of specialty and gourmet teas [from Sri Lanka] are also available. The big selection of fresh fruit juices includes a refreshing Strawberry Juice, now that is different!
The complex is a part of the Green Garden Spa and that is not a bad combination if you want a massage that doesn't cost the earth, followed by a healthy [or otherwise] lunch or snack.
Exactly the same menu, same quality and with the same crazy prices, is on offer at the Green Garden Restaurant situated at the foyer of the Green Garden Hotel on Jln. Kartika Plaza, where it has been turning out value meals for many years. Even when Bali is quiet with tourists, this little gem is always busy. The tourists that have discovered it over the years just keep on coming back! No wonder!
Overall, the Green Garden Cafê is one of the best value locations in Bali. As a bonus, friendly service and that cool ocean breeze help you relax and enjoy an hour or two.