When you arrive at the Ubud Four Seasons, leave your car in the car park and walk down to the restaurants. Do not take the tempting golf buggy to your destination! If you do not walk down through the various levels, you will miss a wonderful series of experiences.
The Four Seasons Resort has been built on the eastern side of the Ayung valley. It is steeply inclined all the way to the river itself. Walking down from the car park you approach what appears to be the reception, it is only the concierge. More steps beyond and you traverse a wooden bridge across a narrow abyss that hosts a small tributary of the Ayung. Already the sounds of nature, birds and distant rapids, become all encompassing.
Ahead is a giant concrete saucer sitting on a pedestal, the dish of the saucer hosting a pond full of local flora. More steps take you down under the lip of the saucer to the reception area, and more still down to the restaurant that is the Ayung Terrace. Now underneath the saucer, it becomes the roof. The western arc stretches out into the surrounding bush. Only a circular railing, along the edge of the restaurant, separates you from nature itself.
In Bali an International cuisine usually means a little bit of everything. An understandable necessity on this island, where tourists come from just about everywhere in the world. But, here at Ayung Terrace, International means something completely different. Innovative food, that has been inspired by many different cuisines of the world, particularly Asian.
It even starts at breakfast time. Huevos Saltillo are two poached eggs on grilled bacon, sitting on an English muffin, a lime & coriander mayonnaise and a tangy fresh tomato-based salsa. Even the Indonesian Rice Porridge has had a makeover as it comes with shredded chicken, crispy shallots, spring onions and a poached egg. The Japanese breakfast consists of Fried Rice, omelette, white radish salad, grilled salmon, pickled plum, miso soup and deep-fried tofu.
With the best selection of breads that I have seen in Bali [rolls, muffins, white, wholewheat, black rice and rye breads], the Ayung Terrace is starting to exert it?s appeal for that special lazy Sunday breakfast. What a relaxing way to finish the week!
The lunch menu starts with dishes that defy normal descriptions of entrees or mains. Just a selection of taste treats to be shared. The Tandoori Marinated Chicken Breast is served in an edible turmeric nan breadcup with cucumber and mint riata. Crusted Prawns Rempeyek appear on a wonderful green mango salad, with a chilli lime dressing.
Roasted Duck Pot Stickers are duck dumplings with water chestnuts and grilled onions in a plum sauce with a soy and ginger dip on the side. Scallop ?Ceviche? & Enoki are plump scallops rolled in rice paper served with a tamarind dip, ginger nam prik and a sweet chilli sauce. Hokkien Noodles, perfect for the lone diner, are with calamari, bean sprouts, char siu pork and coriander leaves. As is the Vegetarian version of that old Indonesian standard, Mie Goreng.
Pepes Ikan is Butterfish, wrapped in turmeric leaves for cooking. A Thai Green Curry of Duck, adds to the international collection. As does a Southern Indian Potato and Vegetable Curry [with basmati grains and Indian chutneys].
At the Ayung Terrace, lunch and dinner are served at set times. Lunch finishes at 3.00 p.m, and dinner starts at 6.00 p.m. Whilst many of the luncheon wonders re-appear on the dinner menu, it also has a number of more substantial and exotic delights.
The Ayam Pelaleh is excellent! The shredded chicken still juicy, not dry as is too often encountered in Bali. It sits on emping crackers, a Balinese salad of long beans on the side, and that wonderful chilli lime dressing that makes this dish so special.
A Miso Sesame Crusted Tuna, just seared, is served with crispy nori rolls and an apple wasabi sauce. But the Tamarind Glazed Rack of Lamb steals the evening?s fanfare! Thick chops of tender lamb, not ruined by overcooking, with that unique flavour of tamarind, a puree of baked pumpkin and chilli coconut on the side.
Not far behind is the wok-seared Korean Marinade Sirloin of Beef. With pickled cabbage [kim chee] and crispy egg noodles, this is a dish to satisfy international palates. A Char-grilled Szechuan Beef Tenderloin is surprisingly served with lobster. It also comes with sweet potato rolls and a ginger and orange sauce.
The wine list is very extensive, even Veuve Cliquet champagne by the glass, and the service is what you would expect in a place of this quality. Whilst the dinner menu may be far more exotic than it?s luncheon counterpart [although perfect for that time of day], the daytime setting is worth the visit alone.
You can now call for the golf buggy to take you back up the hill to your car. But if you visit at lunchtime, take a stroll down the Riverside Café for coffee first. It almost hangs out over the Ayung River. The duckboards around the swimming pool actually do so. Just to your right are the boiling rapids, a pleasant backdrop for that coffee and cigar!
And some people wonder why we live in Bali?