Lantern, Seminyak

Lantern may not have a particularly comely appearance from the road, but step inside and this self-proclaimed “Urban Asian Eatery” will quickly enthral you. With its mix of Asian cuisines – think Malaysian, Vietnamese, Indonesian , Thai and Indian – and cheap prices, it looked promising. Lantern had been recommended by another foodie, and we were keen to see if it lived up to its reputation.

There’s a cooler indoor section if Bali’s humidity is getting to you, and an outdoor/smokers area for the brave or the addicted. We sat at the back near the counter, and admired the mixed decor with its wall paintings, lanterns, cane furniture, lattice work and splashes of bright yellow. We ordered drinks and a complimentary dish of tiny peanuts was served. Drinks were cheap, and we alternated between deliciously minty lychee mojitos and Balinese white wine (surprisingly good).

As we were intent on savouring our own dishes, we each ordered our own mains, rather than sharing, though Lantern’s food is ideal for just that. TJ’s Penang Chicken  Curry with roti had him singing its praises, and as a Malaysian born aficionado of Penang curries, he knows a good one when he eats it. My Sindhi Biryani was light (unlike many versions I’ve eaten) and tasty – filled with morsels of tender yoghurt-coated chicken pieces, and scattered with raisins, cashews, fresh coriander and fried onions.  Cam wasn’t as enamoured with her 12-hour  Pho, though she couldn’t write put her finger on why except to say that it was a bit….beefy. All of that slow cooking no doubt intensified the flavours and I daresay lovers of strong meaty flavours would love it.  Our one shared dish of fried Vietnamese chicken spring rolls was light and crispy, and came with a good dipping sauce.

We were too full to sample dessert, and despite our best intentions to return for another meal, we just couldn’t fit it in. We did manage to drop in for cold drinks on our way back to the hotel the next afternoon though, and I have to say that my Ruby Red drink of cranberry and soda was one of the scrummiest drinks I had in Bali.  The service was excellent both times, and the experience great value for money. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing, and I’ll just have to be content with waiting for my next trip to Bali to discover some of the other dishes on the menu.

I would heartily recommend Lantern for singles, couples, small groups and families. It’s a small space and you may have to wait for a table, but you can find something to appeal to all tastes on the menu, and you’ll be rewarded with super smiles, delicious food and value for money. Winner!

 

Lantern Bali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Grocer & Grind, Seminyak

Although most of our dinner venues were selected beforehand, many of our lunch experiences were serendipitous. It’s amazing when you think you can stumble into any cafe or restaurant in Seminyak and be fairly sure you’re going to have a good experience.

And so it was with Grocer and Grind, near Seminyak Village. We liked the look of the place and once inside the air-conditioned section, were pleased with the menu options. There’s quite a range of brunch and lunch options, including salads, home-made pies, sandwiches and Asian-type fare. There’s also a range of cakes and desserts that we sadly didn’t have room for.

My fresh tuna nicoise salad was crisp, delicious and perfect for a hot day. Washed down with a fragrant lychee granita, I couldn’t have been happier. TJ went for a hot dish of laksa (forgot to take a snap of that one) which he devoured with gusto.

Although we wanted to return for brunch, we never made it back. Oh well, there’s always next time. Loved the feeling of space at Grocer & Grind, the psychedelic wall mural, the comfy cushions and the wall of windows. Oh, and the food and service were excellent too.

Recommended for brunch or lunch or anything in between.

 

Grocer & Grind Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frankensteins

Definitely not your typical Bali experience, Frankenstein’s Laboratory packs in the revellers. These revellers seemed to be mainly Aussies, with several large families, a hen’s party and groups of female friends in the mix. We were a bit nervous to find that our reserved table was smack bang in front of the stage and were sure we’d be in for a bit of something uncomfortable. As it turns out, when we declined the offer to have our photos taken with the ghouls who do the cabaret act, we were told we had to be judges. Judges of the screams made by the groups who came up for the next hour to have their pics taken with the ghouls. Jason, the host of Frankensteins, did a sterling job in getting the many groups on and off the stage, and encouraging them to scream as if their lives depended on it.

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When our two Balinese friends joined us, they were a bit bemused by the whole set up. Being the only non-tourists in the place, I don’t know whether they were taken aback by the whole shebang, or just politely appalled by it. They probably did question why there were no other locals there, but I guess this is the sort of novelty venue that appeals to people on holiday.

After the photo sessions, the first cabaret act ensued, with a tribute to Michael Jackson. Two other cabaret acts follow during the evening – a Beetlejuice and a Rocky Horror tribute. Rocky Horror was our pick for the evening, with the cabaret act getting right into the spirit of things, and the guy dressed as Franknfurter doing a brilliant job in his stilletoes and suspenders.

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In between the stage shenanigans, we ordered our meals consisting of burgers, fries and a pizza. The burgers fell apart, and were tasteless and ordinary, and none of us finished them. The fries were limp and the worst I can remember eating for a while. I didn’t try the pizza, but it was large and cheesy and looked ok. It’s not hard to make decent fries, but I think the emphasis at Frankensteins is on getting the food out quickly, and quality doesn’t enter the equation.

Drinks here are served in blood bags and syringes, and they’re very cheap. I stuck with the local wine (not bad actually) at $6.90 a glass. We had to constantly flag down wait staff, who seemed more concerned with chatting to each other at the bar than making sure the patrons were being served.

The Monster Band played a few sets of music in between the cabaret acts. We were pleasantly surprised by just how good the band was, with quality vocals and musicianship. They were far better than the bands we heard playing up on Eat St on Saturday night, and they didn’t have to try too hard to entice folks up on the dance floor.
Despite our initial misgivings, we had a really fun night. I guess this place isn’t for everyone, but it really suits families and big groups. Everyone was there to have fun, and have fun they did. Don’t go to Frankenstein’s for the food, although I’m sure some people would be happy enough with what’s on offer. We’d been to some incredible eateries and this wasn’t one of them. It was however, a rollicking good night with cheap booze, fun entertainment, and a room full of people who wanted nothing except to have a good time. There’s no cover charge and it’s an unusual and fun way to spend an evening in Bali.

So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab…..

Frankensteins Laboratory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Potato Head, Seminyak

My visions of a large spud with blue shoes and a moustache were dispelled immediately on arriving at Potato Head. “That’s Mr Potato Head you were thinking of” my friend TJ said, “and they’re not quite the same”. Indeed they’re not. The beach-front restaurant at Seminyak is a sophisticated, chilled venue with brilliant service, good food, and views people pay a fortune for. The restaurant  forms a sort of semicircle,and you can choose to sit on the left or the right, depending on whether you want to order from an Asian-themed menu or a Western one. We arrived without a booking and the congenial and efficient staff managed to find us a fabulous spot on a long table looking directly out at the ocean. As we sat down at twilight time we were already impressed, and we hadn’t even looked at a menu. The best was yet to come.

We loved the idea of choosing four starters for the price of AUD$20, and the range of starter options looked so appealing we had problems deciding on just four.

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We decided on roast duck red curry, fried tofu sambal curry, fish carpaccio and golden prawn balls, served with a bowl of rice. All of the dishes were good, although the fish carpaccio was sliced so finely that we could barely taste it. This was a fabulous way to sample a range of dishes without spending a fortune.

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The one area that disappointed us was with the cocktails. We ordered long island iced teas, but they were insipid and watery and didn’t deliver the knockout punch you expect from this drink. For our second round we ordered the Prohibition Iced Tea  for two from the Indo Classic cocktail menu, and the presentation of this in a teapot with mist swirling out of it, was a fun concept. This was more robust with better flavours than our first version but didn’t quite hit the mark, though we definitely felt a bit of a buzz.

As the light faded and people continued to cavort in the swimming pool (attached to the Potato Head Hotel), in front of us, we ordered a main dish of pan fried potato gnocchi which was lip smackingly good. With pureed roasted pumpkin, candied pine nuts, black pepper parmesan and sage butter, all of the elements of this dish complemented each other, and it was one of the best gnocchi dishes we’ve tried.

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Finally we chose two desserts to share: cassava fritters with ice cream, and a deconstructed pannacotta with mango sorbet and passionfruit. We loved the crispy caramelised batter of the cassava fritters, and the fruity flavours contrasting with the creamy texture of the pannacotta.

TJ and I loved our Potato Head experience and enjoyed several contented, relaxed hours there. It’s a complete experience, and if you’re lucky enough to be there for a sunset, so much the better. The ambience, the venue, the food, the staff – kudos to all of them. Our drinks may have missed the mark, but we wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.

 

Potato Head Beach Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Livingstone Cafe & Bakery, Seminyak

This warehouse-type bakery and cafe became one of our two go-to spots for brunch. We loved that there was heaps of room, magazines to read, and comfy couches if you were feeling lazy. We first visited late one afternoon and ordered coffee and cake, and decided we had to come back to sample the brunch. We also tried some of the baked goods that always looked delicious. Cronuts, doughnuts, croissants and Danish pastries are made fresh every day, as well as a range of breads (including their famous watermelon bread) and patisserie items. Their fresh juices were fruity and ice cold (lychee juice especially delicious), and their coffee was good albeit not hot enough the first time around. On the second visit when I asked them to make it extra hot,  it was perfect. There is a bright, roomy upstairs area that has another cafe counter and doubles as a shop. This seems to be the space where people sit working on their laptops, whiling away the hours.

We tried the nasi goreng kampung (excellent), smoked salmon smorrebrod (good), scrambled eggs (one of the better versions), brioche French toast (toast was too fat and this wasn’t a visually appealing dish) and chocolate almond croissants (preferred just the plain almond almond filling) for brunch over the time we were there. The meals were fresh and well presented with reasonable prices. Despite the cast of thousands comprising the staff, we often had to wave our arms to get their attention. This is probably the only criticism of Livingstone – the staff were not well trained in picking up cues from patrons; often milling about and chatting and not paying attention to the needs of the customers. However the variety of food is wide, the quality of food generally very good, the space is bright and airy, and it’s the perfect spot for dining solo, as a couple, or in a group.

Recommended for brunch, coffee and cake, or an in-between-meals snack.

Livingstone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Biku, Seminyak

Biku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The food scene in Bali has evolved in a huge way since I last visited. I was impressed by the stylish and sophisticated venues, many of them housed in expansive buildings with large windows, vaulted ceilings and natural light. The Indonesian and other Asian foods, western foods, baked goods, fruit juices and coffees were outstanding for the most part, and on most occasions, the service was efficient and friendly.

With my two companions, TJ and Cam, we worked our way through as many eateries as we could fit in a week, and re-visited our favourites several times. We bemoaned the fact that we couldn’t eat more, as our list of appealing cafes and restaurants grew longer by the day and there’s only so much y’all can eat in one day, right? Where we couldn’t eat much except a snack, we tried the fresh juices or the cocktails, or had cake and coffee. Overall our dining adventures were fun and fruitful, and we came home with a determination to explore our missed wish-list options the next time we visit.

We first visited Biku for afternoon tea, stumbling upon it whilst doing a recky of the area near our hotel. Housed in a traditional wooden building with Balinese furniture and exposed beams, Biku oozes warmth. Vases of fresh flowers, wooden carvings and shelves filled with knick-knacks and books added to the homely atmosphere. Too full to indulge in Biku’s celebrated high tea, we opted for slices of cake and coffee.  The coffee was good as was the banana cake – moist and full of flavour. The cakes all have that home-made look about them, in a good way. Sort of like the cakes and sweet pies and tarts my nanna used to bake. We loved our experience so much that we booked in for dinner that same evening.
When we returned at 8.30pm the place was packed and we were glad we’d booked. Our choice for dinner was a no-brainer. We’d been hanging out for nasi campur, and we were confident of getting a top notch version here. We weren’t disappointed, and it was as good as the best we’ve tried before. I substituted the beef rendang for a fish satay, and all of the dish’s components of kancung, tempeh, tofu, satay lilit chicken, spicy shredded chicken,r, spiced egg and sambals were fresh and delicious. Amazingly too, we were served within 15 minutes of ordering, despite the place being packed. We prefaced our mains with an order of chicken lumpia, the Indonesian fried spring rolls, and they were similarly delicious.

My Capiroska cocktail was made with rum instead of vodka, and it went down a treat.  The service was pleasant and switched on. The owner is part Balinese, part Australian, and he knows how to run a tight ship without forsaking the relaxed atmosphere Bali is known for. We thought the service was excellent, with smiles from every one of the many staff who work the Biku floor. They were on the ball and seemed to anticipate whenever we needed something.  I can see why this place is so popular, and I’d make a beeline here any time I visit Bali.

Their in-house cakes and desserts looked  a treat in the display cabinet, and I daresay the high tea would be memorable. There’s a range of food to suit every palate, with plenty of Western options if you don’t fancy another Indonesian meal. Highly recommended for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Bookings for dinner are pretty much essential if you want to be guaranteed a table.