Feb 13 2012
Has a building ever made you smile? The striking facade of Potato Head Bali is the first architectural feature that’s brought a grin to my face. It’s a semi-circular construction by architect Andra Martin comprising old louvred shutters from Java, a mixture of whimsy and cleverness; try seeing it and not marvelling at how creative people can really be.
It’s a modern take on the Coliseum, with a dramatic entrance into the amphitheatre inside from behind the facade. You’ll walk up a narrow sort-of hallway, which opens onto a large circle of green lawn, with restaurants arching to the left and right and the foam of Seminyak beach’s waves frothing just metres away from the infinity-edge pool.
We’ve eaten a few times at the beachside restaurant, both during the day and at night, and on daybed/lounges as well as the dining tables. A French restaurant, Tapping Shoes, drips in chandeliers and offers more formal, air-con dining and the other outdoor restaurant, Lilin, serves up Asian cuisine on large communal wooden tables. It’s a big undertaking, three-restaurants-in-one, plus a shop — which you are made to exit through, sort of like Sydney airport’s duty-free, only even more expensive — and a busy party schedule, as well.
It’s taken Potato Head a little while to find its feet service wise, which can be disappointing when you’re ordering pricey cocktails. Despite the prices, the cocktail list is compelling — pineapple and cracked pepper margarita? Georgian mint julep? (each 100,000++ rupiah) — and competitive for the market. And just FYI: you may think you are not getting a buzz from the lemongrass and mango sangria (500,000++ rupiah for a jug enough for six glasses), but trust me, you are.
I am happy to report that the service on our most recent visit last week was great. Meanwhile the food, for the quality and again compared to the competition (particularly KuDeTa) is fair.
We had a decent Nicoise salad on our last visit, though the visit before that we were a tad disappointed with the fish and chips; the fish was delectable but the chips were fast-food style rather than a chunky hand-cut version. That may sound like we’re a bit overly picky, I know, but everything about the fabulous surrounds leads you to think you’re going to consistently get something really special on your plate, you know?
If you’re on a budget, but willing to splurge a little for a special experience, you can make Potato Head work for you. Come early, grab a daybed, have a coffee, a swim, another coffee then a grazing lunch — avoid the alcohol and you’ll probably not spend too much but have a memorable morning and early afternoon in one of Bali’s top locations. (Though do remember there are plenty of other beautiful beaches in Bali where you can enjoy a drink and meal for next to nothing.)
Do be aware that we were told during our most recent sunset visit that there’s a 500,000 rupiah minimum spend on the beds — presumably that applies at all times, but you might want to call ahead of time to check, as these kinds of things can change depending on the season and time of day.
Our overall assessment? Definitely go just to savour the architecture, which may be simple in its execution, but is quite ingenious in conception. Have just a coffee or a light meal if you’re on a tight budget; if you’ve got more money to spend, then Potato Head’s beachside restaurant is fine value for its ilk on the island.
Potato Head Bali
T: (0361) 473 7979
Open daily 11:00-02:00
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