Where to eat and drink: Pemuteran

Pemuteran: Where to eat and drink

Resorts have the monopoly on the beachfront dining in Pemuteran, but plenty of cafes and restaurants lie along the main road, with a smattering of cheaper local warungs too. Prices are aimed at a European diving crowd and catch of the day is the star.

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At Tirta Sari restaurant, a traditional jukung fishing boat with a smiling painted face filled with fresh seafood sets the tone. Charming staff dressed in traditional threads usher you to open pavilions or garden seating. Lighting is perfect, creating romantic ambience with bamboo lamps dotted throughout the garden, but it’s bright enough to see your food. Food presentation is a delightful surprise, with each dish a small artwork of banana and coconut leaves presented like an offering to the Gods. Food is fresh and tasty. Portions are on the small side, and service is a little relaxed, to the point of slow, although they were very busy when we visited. This is one of Pemutaran’s most popular restaurants and not without cause. You may need to queue or better still, book ahead.

A warm welcome at Tirta Sari. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
A warm welcome at Tirta Sari. Photo: Sally Arnold

In a double-storey open-air building with rattan lounges downstairs and more formal dining up, Frangipani Bar and Restaurant aims to be one of the finer dining options in Pemutaran. Ambience is relaxed, and upstairs offers mountain views. We imagine it could be rather romantic at night. The menu is a mix of local and Western fare, with a slight nod to the French. Prices are some of the highest in the village, and although quite tasty, our choice of a prawn-filled chicken breast served with sauteed vegetables (125,000 rupiah) didn’t quite live up to how delicious it sounded on the menu. Presentation was fancier than your local warung, but the flavours not so much, and for double the average price, we had expected a little more. Service was friendly but slow. Our dessert of creme caramel (35,000 rupiah) was also tasty, but not notable. We would give it another go, as the food was fine, and it’s a lovely spot, but it just didn’t have a wow factor. They do provide a free a pickup in the Pemuteran area and offer half-day cooking classes that include a market tour for 450,000++ rupiah per person.

A decorative wooden archway and Ganesh statue welcome you to an attractive open-air joglo at roadside Joe Bar or 7oE Bar as it has on the sign. Joe offers a comprehensive drink list -- large Bintang 35,000 rupiah -- plus the standard burger-pasta-pizza-Indo food mix in a congenial atmosphere. Not quite pumping when we visited, but certainly friendly.

Our meal at Frangipani. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Our meal at Frangipani. Photo: Sally Arnold

Like Joe Bar, nearby Warung Ganesh operates from a traditional joglo set back from the roadside and true to its name, a handsomely decorated Ganesh sits pride of place. Smart whitewashed furniture, landscaping and decorations make this more than your average warung. The menu reads like a fairly standard Indonesian one, with sandwiches and pasta thrown in for good measure. We ordered udang bumbu kuning, or prawns with garlic, turmeric, galangal and lemongrass, served with rice and vegetables, and were served five tiny prawns for 59,500 rupiah. They were excellent but hardly a full meal -- they were really tiny! -- so pricey. Drinks here were also more expensive than other nearby restaurants and a large Bintang will set you back 50,000 rupiah. We don’t mind paying a bit more for good food (which it is), however we don’t like to leave hungry. Live music some nights.

If you’re feeling a little off-balance, it’s probably a good time for a pick-me-up with a cake and coffee at Bali Balance Cafe. This cute roadside cafe has pretty garden seating out the back, a daily changing cake selection and a range of coffees from an espresso machine. The menu includes themed breakfasts for coffee lovers, bread lovers and sporty types plus sandwiches and light meals. They have gluten-free options too. Coffee drinks with alcohol include the “Jet Lag’’ — espresso with arak. Prices are way up there, with a cappuccino hitting the 42,000 rupiah mark. You can order birthday cakes here, too.

Warung Ganesh, complete with Ganesh. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Warung Ganesh, complete with Ganesh. Photo: Sally Arnold

If you are happy to pass up the fancy surrounds at one of the local restaurants, a couple of roadside warungs offer some great local food although with perhaps a less salubrious ambience. Warung Utami set back a little from the dusty road is pleasantly shaded and surrounded by unusual potted bonsai. They serve ayam betutu or free-range chicken slow cooked in spices. For the original version of this dish, Warung Men Tempeh in Gilimanuk is worth a stop if you are passing though on the way to Java. Warung Bu Made, more of a temporary-looking street stall, offers point and pick nasi campur, babi guling (roast pork), bakso babi (pork meatball soup), nasi goreng (fried rice) and gorengan (fried tidbits). Price are, well, like a warung -- you’ll come home with change in your pocket.

We found our balance at Bali Balance. Photo by: Sally Arnold.
We found our balance at Bali Balance. Photo: Sally Arnold

Bali Balance Cafe: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; T: (0853) 3745 5454; info@bali-balance.com; www.facebook.com/balibalance; open daily 08:00-19:00.
Frangipani Bar and Restaurant: Jalan Arjuna, Pemuteran; T: (0813) 3841 8668; reservation@frangipanirestaurant.com; http://www.frangipanirestaurant.com/index.htm; open daily 10:00-22:00.
Joe Bar: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; T: (0852) 3739 0151; open daily 11:00-00:00.
Tirta Sari Restaurant: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; (0877) 6213 2123; info@tirtasaribungalow.com; tirtasaribungalow.com open daily: 13:00-21:00.
Warung Bu Made: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; T: (0852) 3906 4327; open daily 07:00-22:00.
Warung Ganesh: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; T: (0852) 3907 7981; open daily 10:00-22:00.
Warung Utami: Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, Pemuteran; T: (0823) 3954 8126, (0853) 3947 3025; open daily 11:00-22:00.

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Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.