Apéritif at The Viceroy Bali brings the glamour and decadence of the 1920s to Ubud, writes Stephanie Mee. Photos Lucky 8.
Ubud is already widely known as a world-class dining destination, and this September it gets another feather in its culinary cap with the unveiling of Apéritif restaurant and bar. Set on the grand grounds of the Viceroy Bali, this sophisticated spot steps up the game with opulent colonial design and decor, incredible views over the jungle-clad Petanu River gorge, and a contemporary menu that excites and delights from start to finish.
A note on the Viceroy Bali for those who don’t know: this intimate five-star resort has recently undergone some changes to add even more wow-factor to the guest experience. New private-pool villas enhance the collection of thatched-roofed sanctuaries perched on the edge of the ravine, and Apéritif joins award-winning CasCades restaurant as another spectacular dining venue, albeit with a distinctly different vibe.
Apéritif takes inspiration from the glamour and decadence of the 1920s with soaring ceilings, antique cast iron chandeliers, black and white checked floor tiles, and huge arched colonial windows and doors. Head inside to the elegant bar for a selection of fine wines, top-shelf whiskies, cognacs, aperitifs, and craft cocktails designed by Ran Van Ongevalle. Guests at the bar are also treated to gourmet canapés served on custom-designed silver canapé trees.
Step into the spacious dining room and you find a glass-encased wine cellar with handpicked bottles from the Old and New Worlds, intimate tables draped in crisp white linens, and large windows that offer views over the ravine. The open kitchen allows guests to watch executive chef Nic Vanderbeeken and his team work their magic amid state-of-the-art equipment unlike any you’ll find on the island, or across Indonesia for that matter.
The eight-course tasting menu at Apéritif is a perfect example of Nic’s flair for combining classic European sensibilities with contemporary global influences. Take for example the delicate ceviche consisting of fresh line-caught fish dusted with seaweed powder and served with homemade coconut milk infused with fragrant kaffir lime oil. The heirloom tomatoes are another refreshing starter that fire up the taste buds with subtle hints of kombu, Parmesan, and black garlic.
As the gastronomic journey continues, the dishes get increasingly more decadent, like the venison wellington wrapped in golden pastry and sliced tableside to reveal layers of foie gras and melt-in-your-mouth venison. Each slice is served on top of shimeji mushrooms with a rich mushroom rendang reduction drizzled over top. Another memorable main is the tender duck Magret with heirloom beetroot and a spiced orange sauce.
Local ingredients factor into each dish, while other delicacies come from places renowned for particular products. Chef Nic says, “Whenever possible we work with local farmers and producers to source ingredients from Bali and the region. However, we won’t compromise on quality, so if something isn’t up to par here, then we’ll import.” Take one taste of the tender New Zealand venison or Canadian lobster, and you can forgive them for sourcing abroad.
The meal ends on a high note with playful desserts that harken back to the chefs’ childhood memories. We’re huge fans of the PB & J, a gorgeous concoction of silky peanut butter in a meringue shell sprayed with Monggo chocolate and topped with a tart and tangy mulberry sorbet. The dessert also comes with a brown paper bag labelled with your name; just like the packed lunch your mum might have given you for school. Dying to know what’s inside? You’ll have to visit yourself to find out.
Chances are you’ll probably want to linger for a while after your meal, either with a nightcap at the bar or a scotch and cigar on the balcony. After all, you’ll want to savour every moment of the experience, from the striking architecture and design to the exquisite food and drink, and the impeccable service. And if you really want to make a night of it, you can always book into one of the luxe villas just a few steps away.