Day-tripping to Ubud? Here's where you should dine at
Less than two hours away from Southern Bali, Ubud teems with art and crafts, lush forests and hidden dining gems. Here's your day guide
9am: Start your day at Seniman Coffee
A pushcart business that grew into a café, the specialty coffee institution now occupies the shop space next door as well as across the road where their coffee beans are roasted in-house and supplied to several stand-out F&B spots around Bali. The laidback café — with its quirky upcycled furniture — is often packed with groups travelling in from Jakarta and further away, all eager to tick this cult favourite off their list. Serving 100% Arabica beans sourced mainly from Indonesia, Seniman offers single origin coffee in light to medium roasts. Their single origin coffees are known for their manual brewing methods and since you're in Bali, the best beans to try are the island's native varieties like the Kinta Manis and the Karana Madu.
What to order: Try the Seniman Taster, a selection of three or five coffee drinks suggested by the barista — it's coffee omakase-style. Enjoy it with their sushi-inspired take ongado gado, and cool down with Seniman's Coffee Granita, a delicious mix of frozen espresso coffee and coffee ice-cream, topped with fresh cream.
Jalan Sriwedari No. 5, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali 80561. Tel: +62 361 972 085
1pm: Break for lunch at Locavore
It's really what Chef Eelke, Chef Ray and the rest of Locavore's team do with their locally-sourced food that takes this modern European joint to the next level. From a menu of either locavore or herbivore (the vegetarian's choice), you choose five to seven dishes from the menu and brace yourself for a dining experience that lasts at least two and a half hours. It's a good thing that Locavore eschews any kind of the stuffiness associated with fine dining, favouring a more relaxed and comfortable setting. Decked out in soft lighting in a palette of calming earthy colours, it lets the food and its presentation be the stars of the show. We enjoyed sitting at the counter to see the rhythm of the well-oiled kitchen in action. Forget what you see on reality shows — Chef Eelke gives instructions calmly in Bahasa Indonesia, resulting in murmurs of unison everytime an order is taken.
What to order: The lamb comes to your table in the full cut it was roasted in for you to choose the part you want. For the undecided, just get a mix of all the options roasted to perfection. One of the most impressive parts of the meal is how well Locavore has done vegetables — it's pretty much on par with any meat dish in terms of technique, flavour and texture. Their pumpkins, for example, come pickled, grilled, baked and torched, with a side of goat cheese cream. Cocktails take advantage of such fresh local ingredients as turmeric, kaffir lime leaves, fennel and kemangi (lemon basil) leaves. For something more dramatic, try Into the Wild, a ruby-coloured vodka-based concoction served with burning herbs on the side.
Jalan Dewisita No. 10, Ubud, Bali 80571. Tel: +62 361 977733
4pm: Hydrate and recharge at Down to Earth Cafe
Founded in 2002 by nutritionist Liat Solomon, the Down to Earth group is all about bringing gourmet vegetarian dishes prepared from sustainable ingredients to its customers. We visited the Ubud outlet, nestled in a second-storey location overlooking a quiet street — you might even spot a bare-chested wood carver or two.Entering the open air cafe is like walking into Eat Pray Love central. The organic, vegetarian menu consists of a variety of cuisines. There's a Mediterranean platter, but also Indonesian-inspired fare — it's no wonder Down to Earth attracts a mostly foreign crowd. Even if you're not vegetarian or vegan, you'll enjoy the tasty, fresh offerings. Also cool: There's a health food, clothing and accessories store downstairs as well as the Paradiso Ubud cinema that plays less mainstream movies and television shows for those not inclined towards blockbusters.
What to order: The Mediterranean platter — it had all our favourites like hummus and baba ganoush, but was served with delicious, wholemeal pita. We also tried the quinoa pancakes and were impressed by how palatable and filling they were when dipped in the apple-based sauce. Lastly, all the smoothies and juices we ordered were refreshing, well-priced and happily, guilt-free.
Jalan Goutama Selatan, Kab. Gianyar, Bali 80571, Tel: +62 361 7835545
7pm: Wind down at Bridges
You'd want to trust an establishment that was born out of a partnership with Ubud's King himself. Bridges gets its name from the rickety iron bridge — a replica of the ones originally built by the Dutch during their settlement — that greets the entrance of the three-storey open air restaurant. With a main dining area that overlooks the lush greens synonymous with Ubud, Bridges is a quiet escape from the area's busy shopping hub. Look out for their bar which will open in December — two levels down from their first floor, it'll bring you even nearer to the stream that flows through the jungle below.
What to order: Like most establishments, their menu features both Indonesian and international fare — for starters, we recommend the Indonesian tapas to start, which gives you a taste of some of the dishes the country is lauded for: Satay, rendang and grilled fish. Note that the local fare in Bridges has been watered down for the tourist palette — so if your stomach lining needs a break from the heat and spices, this is the way to go.
Jalan Campuhan, Ubud, Bali 80571. Tel: +62 361 970095
To view more insider tips from our #BuroInBali guide, click here.