No one could be starved for choice when it comes to eating out in Bali. Di Bauwens reveals her favourite places to wine, dine and soak up the scenery.
SARONG - Jl Petitenget No 19X, Kerobokan
Sophisticated and glamorous with drop-dead gorgeous décor and exquisite cuisine, this sumptuous dining pavilion is at the top of my must do dining list in Bali. With a myriad of chandeliers, billowing golden drapes, candles, fresh flowers, artwork and a pond, it's the sensual and seductive living room you want to take home with you. Exotic and spicy food by Australian chef Will Meyrick delivers the flavours of south-east Asia with grand flair. His inspiration comes from street food but there's nothing `hawker' about the presentation of a menu offering anything from tandoori specialties and intricate salads to aromatic Thai, Indian and Malay curries and dishes from the coconut char grill. Try the chicken betel leaf with flat coriander, lime leaf and roasted chilli relish, the crispy salmon with watermelon, mint, Thai basil and chilli and shallot dressing or the divine duck curry.
KU DE TA - Jl Kayu Aya No. 9, Seminyak
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in August, this is the place to see and be seen in a hip open-air setting by the sea. The international cuisine is defined as `global dining', the ambience is dead sexy and whether you go for breakfast, lazy lunch, dinner or cocktails, it's a winner. Try the chargrilled squid and octopus salad with chorizo, chickpea, red radish, cucumber, dill and parsley for lunch or the rabbit cannelloni with porcini mushrooms, carrot puree, rocket and watercress, the famous crab linguini, sweet Alaskan black miso cod or baby lobster risotto for dinner and you'll be hooked. At the very least stretch out on a sunbed with a signature bellini, mojito, martini, margarita or daiquiri for the quintessential Seminyak sunset.
SARDINE - Jl Petitenget No. 21, Kerobokan
"Oh my God! It's sex on a plate." screamed my dining companion after the first mouthful of the indescribably perfect ginger crème brulee at Sardine. It certainly was the climax of a meal enjoyed in the chic, open-air, bamboo-and-breezes-meets-rice-field setting with a chi-chi crowd to match. While sardines are the specialty, dessert made up for the somewhat light-on entrée and main servings savoured under the massive thatched eaves. The place is owned by Pascal Chevillot and his decorator wife Pika. Chef Frederic Pougault's menu uses produce from the Chevillot's organic farm in the Munduk Valley. Afters? Everyone in the place retires to the outdoor lounges for coffee, liqueurs and conversation under the stars.
METIS - Jl Petitenget No. 6, Kerobokan
Just across the road from Sardine, Chef Nicholas `Doudou' Tourneville of Café Warisan fame has created another tres French establishment. Sink into plump chairs on a terrace overlooking the rice fields or head upstairs to another seductive verandah where you can share a glass of pinot or a delicious cocktail. So French, it even boasts a foie gras menu. Ooh la la!
THE LIVING ROOM - Jl Oberoi, Petitenget, Kerobokan
With its magical garden strewn with elegant wrought iron settings, candles flickering in glass bells, dramatic drapes and sumptuous and seductive beds, this Eurasian fare restaurant has withstood the text of time. What's not to love about this place with luscious lounge music to accompany anything from duck legs betutu and pan fried foie gras to grilled Australian beef tenderloin?
ULTIMO ITALIAN RESTAURANT - Jl Laksmana No. 104X, Seminyak
Situated on the "eat street" strip, this place has an inviting buzz. An opulent canopied ceiling, central bar and hip outdoor dining out the back with a live band make this a popular choice for tourists and locals alike. Unpretentious pizza, pasta and traditional dishes and reasonable Chilean wines which won't break the bank.
SEA CIRCUS - 22 Ll Laksmana (Oberoi Road), Seminyak
Billed as the "seafood restaurant with a social life", this funky beachhouse-style eatery is owned by a group of young Aussies with passion and flair. Gelato-coloured louvres and quirky elements offer a very different visual slant and the food, designed to be shared, is unexpectedly sophisticated with dishes such as seared half shell scallops with cauliflower puree and pomegranate and lime dressing and grilled mahi-mahi with capsicum and roasted walnut salsa, not to mention sensational beer-battered fish and chips with tartar sauce.