Food for the Soul at Locavore
In less than six months, Ubud-based Locavore has proved itself as one of Bali’s word-of-mouth phenomenoms. If you’ve been thinking about giving the restaurant’s contemporary European cuisine a try; be forewarned as without a reservation made well in advance, there’s a good chance you won’t make it past the front door.
As we belly up to the stylish hardwood bar, giving us an irresistible peek behind the scenes at what makes Locavore tick – the restaurant’s passionate chefs – we witness one walk-in guest after another politely turned away on an average Wednesday night during Bali’s low season. Owned and managed by a merry band of three culinary musketeers, the trio first met several years ago within the kitchen and signature restaurant of the acclaimed Alila Ubud.
Six years later, they risked it all to follow their own dream: working as the catalysts between local producers and discriminating diners with an ingredients-driven menu that celebrates farmers, fishermen and artisans throughout Bali and the archipelago. With every single chair occupied by guests with smiles on their faces, it’s quite fair to say that the dream has come true. Adi is the restaurant’s General Manager; a quintessentially good-looking Balinese gent whose calm, yet firm demeanor helps to not aggravate all of the non-reservation guests that he must turn away every evening. Ray and Eelke are the chefs; forces to be reckoned with and blessed with good-natured personalities that make you feel as if you’ve just stepped into your best friend’s dining room – and he happens to be one of the best chefs on the planet.
Serving two highly conceptualised degustation menus every evening, this is the perfect way to try Locavore’s style for the first time. Perfect for staunch vegetarians, pescavores and meat-loving hedonists, Locavore delivers a mind-boggling variety of fruits and veggies grown in their own gardens as well as in the cool highlands of Bedugul. “Ninety-five to ninety-eight-percent of our ingredients are locally grown,” explains Chef Eelke. “We work with local farmers who are raising chickens, ducks and rabbits. We’re also raising our pigs; fed with scraps and leftovers from the kitchen. We hope to debut our boutique-raised pork in a few months.”
Without the burden of having to rely on expensive import products, outside of Locavore’s attractive international wine list, the chefs enjoy carte blanche in making their dishes as pleasing to the palate as they are to the eye. Locavore’s exotic signature cocktail list reads more like a salad menu: Tamarillo Roska, Passion Fruit & Kemangi Mojito, Rambutan Shrub and Rujak. Adi recommends giving the Rujak a try, inspired by a traditional Indonesian fruit and salad mix. Served with a sustainable bamboo straw, the heavenly concoction is a great pick-me-up with red chillis muddled with lemongrass and cucumber, then shaken with chilli infused vodka and tamarind syrup.
A dining experience at Locavore is all about trying new flavours and sensations. Mid-way through our Rujaks, Chef Eelke delivers the amuse-bouches; a vivid presentation of bloody mary nuanced sorbet served over homegrown cherry tomatoes and topped with warm tomato broth. The sorbet provides an exhilarating punch of sweet, salty and sour – all at once – while the combination of warm and cold keeps you in the moment and leaves you feeling uplifted and energized.
Offering seafood connoisseurs a very special Catch of the Day, we lucked out when two platters of the freshest scallops in Asia arrived at our table. Sourced straight from nearby Lombok, where scallop season only happens twice every year, each trio was stylishly served over rock salt on the half shell, allowing each scallop to be decadently bathed in a rich lobster bisque-like sauce. Being the passionate gourmand that he is, the Chef also served each one of us a side pitcher of the sauce, in case we felt compelled to drink it.
For meat lovers who are passionate about eating local, Locavore’s rabbit is ethically raised and fed in Bedugul. Served three ways – on one plate – you get the very best of Dutch and Belgian cuisine. Cooked in a succulent mixture of beer, sugar and vinegar, the rabbit leg falls off the bone and serves as immensely satisfying comfort food. Rabbit loin is prepared sous-vide while the bitterballen introduces you to Holland’s beloved dish, a lightly fried ball with melt-in-your-mouth rabbit shoulder.
Inspired by Bali’s classic breakfast dish, bubur injin, the team has created a truly unique indulgence for dessert. Unsweetened black rice is topped with a sumptuous scoop of palm sugar ice cream as well as a generous topping of coconut foam, the perfect way to end the evening on a guilt-free note.
CRISPY BARRAMUNDI ROLL
WITH POTATO PUREE, FRESH EXOTIC FRUIT AND LIQUORICE
• 1 fresh barramundi fillet
• Fresh marjoram
• Clarified butter
• Salt and pepper
• 8 slices of bread
• Mango, papaya, avocado, yellow melon
• Melted liquorice
• Extra virgin olive oil
• 2 limes
• Potato puree
• Edible flowers for garnish
1. Prepare the filling by finely chopping the fish fillet and adding a little chopped marjoram, salt and pepper to it.
2. Sprinkle the slices of bread with a little water. Spread the filling on each slice and roll them up.
3. Brown the rolls in butter for 3-4 minutes until they are golden brown.
4. Clean each piece of fruit thoroughly before cutting them into small cubes and add a few drops of lime juice and a little lime zest, finely chopped.
5. To plate the dish, apply some of the potato puree and put the barramundi roll on top. Arrange a mixture of the diced fruit alongside the roll.
6. Complete with a few drops of liquorice.