New Fine Dining Restaurant ‘Apéritif Restaurant and Bar’ opens at The Viceroy Hotel Ubud Bali , Indonesia

          Set amidst Ubud’s lush jungle landscape and adjacent to its iconic founding father The Viceroy Hotel Bali, Aperitif Restaurant and Bar’s Dutch colonial white-washed mansion stands as striking contrast against Ubud’s hills and valleys. The grandioseness (yes, it’s a real word – I checked), continues throughout the dining spaces with its lofty ceiling, chequered marble tiles and black iron and glass chandeliers. If one could imagine Alice in Wonderland set in the roaring 20s, this would be it: vintage sophistication with a touch of fairytale storybook. Apéritif is that fantasy come to life.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Apéritif is the newest in the scene of restaurants on which a hopeful industry that sees Bali as one of Asia’s newest food hot-spots is placing its bets. Anthony Syrowatka, co-owner and General Manager of The Viceroy Hotel Bali said of the growing industry, “Bali is world-renowned for its culture, beaches, mountains and surrounds, and attracts millions of overseas visitors each year. As such, the want and need for fine dining establishments has grown naturally through sheer demand from both locals, expats and visitors. In general, people are always hungry for new luxury experiences, and Bali is no exception.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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      Bangkok Foodies also asked one of “the” foodie gurus of Indonesia, Jed Doble, Publisher of FoodieS Indonesia, who he thought were the original pioneers, plus the new kids on the block driving the culinary scene, he mentioned, “The old guards are strong and steady: Will Meyrick of Sarong and MamaSan, Chris Slans of Mozaic and Spice, Nicholas ‘Doudou’ Tourneville of Metis. Younger and creative groups like: 8 Degree Projects – Sisterfields, Bo$$Man, Bikini; Locavore Group – Locavore, Nusantara, The Night Rooster, Good Food Brotherhood – Watercress Café, The Common, Milk & Madu, Ulekan; Mexicola Group – Mexicola, DaMaria and Tropicola.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Bali Bets on Michelin – New Fine Dining Restaurant Opens in Ubud. Read it on www.bangkokfoodies.com

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          Now, many of us might be surprised by Jed’s comprehensive list, as most international gourmets don’t consider Bali to be a dining destination. But the social demand for the rare and exotic has seen Southeast Asia’s more “underappreciated” cuisines — like the food of the Philippines, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia — reigniting foodies’ passion. The movement is evident in current food trends and digital media.

          Anthony’s large and some may say daring investment is further belief that Indonesia’s time in the sun is imminent. “I believe that there is a time and place for each cuisine to come to the forefront. While Thai food has been in the international sphere for a little over a decade now, Filipino food is now up-and-coming. I am sure that it will be Indonesia’s turn next.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Leche de Tigre / Coconut / Milk / Hijiki. @aperitifbali. #AperitifBali #BangkokFoodies #BangkokFoodiesTour #Bali

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          The new Apéritif Restaurant and Bar defines itself as Contemporary Global Cuisine, where Chef Nic Vanderbeeken, formerly Executive Chef at CasCades, Viceroy Bali for 5 years, was handed the lead of Apéritif, along with carte blanche of the menu. With that responsibility, Nic developed a menu which reflected his personal experience and travels. The end result was a culmination of something familiar, refined and unique. Chef Nic explains, “With my European culinary background, I combine the best of both worlds to create Apéritif’s degustation menus that have been inspired by many different cuisines.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Eve Tedja, the associate editor of Epicure Magazine, one of Bali’s most notable culinary bibles, talked about the importance of local ingredients to many chefs in Bali. “I see artisanal efforts, farm-to-table, new ingredients, and emphasis on sustainability are on the rise. Bali continues to lure talented chefs and entrepreneurial spirits so we’ll definitely see more restaurants, especially the fast fine dining style.”

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          Yet the team at Apéritif hasn’t committed to local ingredients in the same way, make them fine dining rebels in these parts. The sometimes Balinese-inspired but essentially open-bordered menu at Apéritif doesn’t conform to an ethnic or regional identity.

          But that doesn’t mean they ignore local produce completely. Although Apéritif are investing in fine and fresh International ingredients they do work alongside the local farmers with what is in season, along with some of the more elusive herbs and spices. Currently they serve a Blue Crab from New Guinea with pickled kohlrabi, citrus gel, salmon roe, dill and gulai sauce and a Canadian Lobster and Octopus Bottarga from Lombok Island. The Balinese touches at Apéritif also extended to the dessert, like the tastebud-blowing creations of Pastry Chef Alexander McKinstrey. His interpretation of Bubur Injin, usually a sweet black rice porridge, presented in misshapen frozen spherical balls included a sorbet of mango and a crispy shard of black rice, was nothing short of excellent.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          Which leads me to say that we found the most memorable dishes weren’t the ones with an obvious European flavours but those that left lingering souvenirs of an exquisite new-era Bali, such as the extraordinary Venison Wellington, with foie gras, truffle, shimeji and the seasonsings of rendang. This type of palatable play of East meets West is destined to be a hit with visitors, and also signals the kind of talent that lies along some of Bali’s rustic, narrow and winding roads. Jed, also a believer in the progressive future of Bali’s cuisine said, “Big things are definitely happening in the culinary scene in Bali. Buoyed by the large number of tourist arrivals, the dining scene is vibrant and creative.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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          But how far and how fast will the industry really go? When asked if the Michelin Guide could ever land on their humble shores, Anthony said,  “We certainly hope so. With the rapid growth of Bali as a culinary destination, amazing variety of unique produce and concentration of talented innovative chefs doing amazing things I don’t think it will be too long before guides like Michelin and Gault & Millau come to Bali”. Whereas Jed had more sobering thoughts on what the future could behold, “Although there is a wide array of good restaurants, I don’t think Michelin will ever come. The casual nature of the Island doesn’t blend well with the style of Michelin I think”. But we believe it’s the closing statement of Eve, that echoes the secret wishes of striving Balinese and Balinese-based “fine” dining chefs, which is “I’d love to see that happen in Indonesia soon”!

 Aperitif Restaurant and Bar

Address: Jl. Lanyahan No.Br, Nagi, Kec. Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Phone number:  +62 361 9082777
Opening hours: 4.00pm – 11.30pm
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