Aperitif Restaurant in Ubud is worth visiting, even if you’re not staying in one of Viceroy Bali’s villas

Aperitif Restaurant in Ubud is worth visiting, even if you’re not staying in one of Viceroy Bali’s villas

Destination dining

Text: Crystal Lee

Aperitif, the buzzy European fine dining restaurant and bar within the verdant grounds of Viceroy Bali in Ubud, may involve a bit of a personal battle to get to. See, if you're not staying in one of the beautiful villas next door (which you should; it's gorg), it takes you half an hour to get to by car from central Ubud. And we all know how easy it is to slip into a blissful bubble (read: not venturing out) when you're in Bali.

But we're here to tell you that Aperitif is worth the trip. In fact, you just might do it again. Because more than just the food, it's sublime in its guéridon service, Gatsby-esque décor, and a rather peaceful ambience.

Housed in standalone Dutch colonial-style building that overlooks a gorgeous jungle landscape, Aperitif is split into two distinct spaces. On the left is the Bar, where you start your evening with an aperitif (of course) and canapes in an old-world gentleman's club setting. The cocktail menu, conceptualised by award-winning Belgian bartender Ran Van Ongevalle, is an ode to Bali's flavours with the use of in-house infusions and local ingredients.

The canapes are proof that Belgian Executive Chef Nic Vanderbeeken wastes no time seducing his guests. His snacks are prettily assembled and theatrically plated in beautiful tableware. One of them, the one that made us smile, was a trio of chopped raw fish topped with fish roe sitting atop crispy puffed fish skin sitting atop decorative fish bones. Under chef Nic, Aperitif has a zero-waste policy; unedibles are used one way or another, as ornaments or compost for its garden.

At dinner, Aperitif continues to show off in a big way. The main dining hall is palatial to say the least, with high ceilings, large windows, shiny marbled surfaces, dramatic checkered tiles, intriguing artwork, and sweeping chandeliers. A hotspot for Instagram, if I may. The open kitchen at the back of the room is just as spacious, giving the crew plenty of room to move - which probably explains the sense of calm emanating from a typically busy, tensed place.

Dinner is a three-hour, eight-course-and-then-some affair, but there's a five-course option if the former seems too indulgent. The menu, as stated, "explores eclectic global cuisine by way of the Indonesian archipelago", meaning there are culinary references to all dishes from the world over, with the use of local ingredients. That said, the chef Nic's execution is distinctly modern European. We started with lightly-poached fresh oysters from Lombok seasoned with yoghurt, spirulina, seaweed and smoked oyster emulsion. That set the stage for the rest of the night: every dish that came after were rich and multi-layered in flavours and textures. And on that note, it's probably a good idea to go light for your prior meals.

There's no a la carte here, but dinner courses come with a few options. The sweet, parsnip-enhanced Canadian lobster was a delight (well, lobsters always are, when treated right), as with the luscious medium-rare duck magret. The latter is Aperitif's take on Duck a l'Orange -the sauce, made with shallots, turmeric and candlenuts, takes its cute from the same spice mix used in ayam betutu (or Balinese roast chicken).

With interiors this roomy, beautiful and relaxing, we couldn't help but linger a little longer back at the bar for a tasty nightcap, with chef Alex's lovely candies to go. And if you've made it all the way here, you should, too - slow down and unwind. What's even better? A nighttime stroll back to one of Viceroy Bali's stunning villas, have a slow, luxurious shower, sink into bed, then wake up in the morning to lush forest views and maybe a sweet soak in your private heated pool.

Viceroy Bali, Jln. Lanyahan, Br. Nagi, Ubud, Bali 80571 Indonesia
Opening hours: (Bar) 4pm-2am, (Dinner) 6pm-12.30am (last bookings at 9pm)
Degustation menus start from Rp. 1,350,000++ per person, and Rp. 2,600,000++ per person with wine pairing

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