One of Southeast Asia's best
Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud
T: (0361) 977 733
We reckon Locavore is one of the best restaurants in Bali, and quite probably one of the best in Southeast Asia. Serving up modern international cuisine with a focus on — you guessed it — local produce, their degustation menu is out of this world. If you’re in Bali and you love food, a visit here is absolutely essential.
The restaurant seats only around 30 people, and you’ll need to book ahead to be sure of getting in. Furnishings are sleek and modern, with an emphasis on blonde woods, white and green, unframed photographs of farm-fresh produce and cool grey tiles underfoot. The relaxed ambiance really works well for either a romantic meal or a chilled out meal with family and friends; the open kitchen keeps things interesting.
While there’s an a la carte menu, we highly recommend springing for the five- or seven-course degustation, and if you’re a wine drinker, the matching wine option (our pours seemed to be full — not just tasting size) is essential.
Choose which two courses of the seven you’d like to skip; one of us decided to skip the first course, but it came anyway. When we mentioned that we thought this was the one we had skipped, so we wanted to clarify which one we would now skip instead, the staff quickly said it was their mistake and we would each now have six courses. But they ended up bringing us the full seven — which was very generous for such a small error.
In brief, we started with an amuse bouche of a tomato sorbet in a consumme that was all smooth, but interesting thanks to the collision of temperatures. A selection of our favourite courses among the full seven were: baby beets cooked in their own jus with grilled watermelon, avocado sorbet, yoghurt, mint and shaved radish, a symphony of different textures and sweetnesses of different notes; traditional pig head terrine with piccolilli, shallot chutney, flat leaf parsely and transparent potato, decadently fatty and delicious; fresh duck sausage with sage, dried mango, duck jus, caramelised shallots, potato mousseline and rucola, the fruit cutting through the gamey duck flavour; and then a pure celebration of passionfruit: passionfruit sorbet with frozen wood sorrel yoghurt, passionfruit meringue, passionfruit gel and wood sorrel leaves. The meringue itself was a triumph, crisp and sourly sweet, only just starting to be defeated by the humidity at the final mouthful or two.
For the quality of food being presented here prices are excellent. Five courses is 350,000 rupiah (++), or 750,000 ++ with wine pairing; seven courses is 450,000 rupiah (++) or 950,000 ++ with wine pairing. The wines were generously poured and were very interesting matches as well — one white had a distinctive herb flavour that I have never detected in a wine before. Forgive me for not noting it — we had already had four or five glasses …
Aside from being intriguing food executed without fuss, we love that the ingredients are local — forget fussy imported lobsters, oysters or fois gras — but given the attention they really deserve. For instance, another course was chicken galantine with mushroom ravioli, garden beans and chicken liver crostini; normally we’d never order chicken off a good restaurant’s menu, but this Balinese chicken had an intense flavour, wrapped in a decadently fatty outer layer of skin, and the ravioli was an interesting textural match. It’s fascinating to see what can be done so well while sticking to items produced on Bali itself. By all means, enjoy local babi guling — but then try the pig’s head terrine here as it’s to die for.
Locavore is giving the much more expensive Mozaic down the road a real run for its money. With its ambitious philosophy and genuinely fresh approach, we reckon Locavore has a chance of making it into Asia’s 50 best restaurants list next year.