Nov 25 2011
If you like your food healthy and imaginative — even somewhat worshipful — make a beeline to stunning Clear Cafe when you’re in Ubud. The spot, tucked away on Jalan Hanoman so within walking distance of most guesthouses in Ubud’s central area, has been open a year or two now, and it’s surely testament to its popularity that it’s now renovating to put in an extra floor.
Shoes are left at the entrance to the airy, temple-like interior — a somewhat religious theme emerges here — and the space soars with anticipatory drama, a collision of slick lines and natural curves, indigenous materials and industrial cleverness.
And then there’s the menu, which to take that theme a step further and use a Nigella-ism, treats your body like a temple. The focus is on whole, natural, organic food, with vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike set to find something to tempt them here.
After a long, leisurely read of the compelling, alcohol-free menu — it’s online here where you’ll no doubt pick up some ideas for your own cooking repertoire — I went for the mint-infused water (I sipped the lavendar on a previous visit and preferred that — there’s also rose and cucumber on offer, 5,000++ rupiah) with the Grand Puri Salad, a mix of rocket, blue cheese chunks, sheared apples, candied, crunchy cashews and a mango chili aioli (45,000++). It was — how could it not be? — divine. It sure feels right eating food like this in bare feet.
Other light meals include sandwiches such as the Clear Caprese (45,000++), which is mozzarella, arugula, vine ripe tomatoes and pesto on baguette with balsamic reduction, and nibbles like Tofu Purses, diced apple, onion, tofu, red pepper, coconut & tamarind sauce tucked in purple cabbage (35,000++).
The waitress had asked if I was having a main when I ordered, but I thought I’d wait to see the size of the salad, and the serving was indeed meal (or late lunch) size. So while I skipped a main it wasn’t without regret: among the offerings are “Snow Tofu”, coconut crusted tofu with sauteed greens in a tamarind sauce and garlic mashed potatoes (45,000++) and “Bali Raja Tataki”, cocoa cayenne seared tuna, daikon and beets in a mangosteen sauce (70,000++). Clear seems to be all about taking the best of Bali’s local ingredients and creating poetic temptation.
I did, however, have some room for dessert and a cashew-nut milk-based latte (20,000++). My piece of raw mulberry pie (50,000++), a decadent but light piece of heaven — sort of like guilt-free ice cream cake — looked so fantastic the next table commented. Various other cakes and pies are on offer, and the waiter will bring them out for you to have a look if you’re keen. They may seem pricey, but they’re generally nut-based, which means the ingredients aren’t cheap to start with.
My only gripe really is the usual plus plus — here 10% tax, 10% service, which is closer to five-star restaurant rates than simple restaurants — but then the starting prices for the quality being served are very reasonable. Be warned if you go at the moment too that renovations are underway in the rear of the restaurant, so not as many tables are available as usual.
In short, Clear Cafe is a standout in a field of many healthy offerings among Ubud’s restaurant offerings.
Jalan Hanoman No. 8
T: (0361) 889 4437
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