Hard to think of a better way to wind-down the week and catch up with favourite folk. Katie Truman goes gaga over brunch.
With its towering, semi-open Tiki-style, all bamboo and thatch restaurant-bar, alongside Legian Beach, Azul Beach Club is the epitome of a tropical island hang-out. The perfect spot to unwind at the weekend and enjoy a smokin’ hot (literally) Sunday Barbecue Brunch: a super casual, family-friendly backyard barbecue concept, one of the few brunches where you don’t have to glam-up – come straight off the beach in your finest flip-flops and singlets, if you must. And priced at IDR275,000 – with children dining at half price – you can easily bring the entire family clan.
From noon to 4pm, flame on. Out at the barrel grill, choose from freshly barbecued pork ribs, beef, rotisserie chicken, lamb and house-made sausages, all smothered in anything from sambal matah to salsa verde; Chef will additionally barbecue seafood preferences to order – be it Kalimantan half-crab or spicy seared Jimbaran king prawns – and kindly deliver to your table. Other tasty treats include signature charcoal naan bread from the kitchen’s Tandoor oven, an overflowing salad bar and essentials like baked potatoes and corn on the cob. After that little lot, desserts are individually served.
It could be worse, fanned by ocean breezes and watching surfers ride the waves, and the kid’s off next door to Bali Mandira Resort’s Kid’s Club for activities ranging from pizza making to lawn games. Brunch comes inclusive of free-flow non-alcoholic beverages, but to enter the “spirit” of things, ‘Vacation in a Glass,’ a mix of vodka, pineapple juice, coconut and sparkling wine, poured into a tall Tiki glass, comes highly recommended. Even better, post-brunch, head pronto to Azul’s upper deck for the appropriately-named ‘Where’s My Mojito?’ poolside party, from 2pm to sunset magically tacking onto the brunch – whose brilliant idea was this?
Here, get stuck into five Mojitos exclusively curated for this poolside session (at staggeringly good value), including the more-ish Coco-nutty Mojito, all the while entertained with toe-tapping Latino and Salsa sounds courtesy of the in-house DJ and live percussionist and a bevy of salsa dancers on the pool deck threatening impromptu Salsa dance classes. If that all sounds exhausting, crash out in a pre-booked cabana or sunbed, keeping cool with repeat dips in the boutique-sized infinity pool. No wonder ‘Where’s My Mojito?’ went from once-monthly to a weekly event, by popular demand. With Mojitos knocked-back in the Jacuzzi pool, Salsa in the sunshine and an infectious party spirit, it could all get messy. But a little over-indulgence in Legian never did anyone any harm.
Surprisingly, there are few quality weekend brunches in the Kuta-Tuban area, so the newly minted Sunday Brunch, at The Anvaya Beach Resort Bali, is a welcome addition. The former Hotel Santika Premiere Beach Resort – rebranded in 2016 as 495-room five-Star – The ANVAYA extends down to Tuban’s gorgeous beach, littered with local jukung boats and offering a more tranquil scenario than Kuta‘s nearby stretch. This is the heavenly view enjoyed while dining at Sands Restaurant, the resort’s aptly-named, all-day international restaurant housed within an ultra- contemporary pavilion beside the beach; its floor-to-ceiling glass doors pulled back for max sunshine and ocean breezes, while the timbered deck edging the sand is cool for al fresco dining.
Kicking-off at 12 noon, the Sunday Brunch costs from IDR359,000 (IDR100,000 for children aged nine to twelve, aged eight and under eat free), inclusive of free-flow non-alcohol beverages; the lychee iced teas are great, but for something stronger, alcoholic packages run from beer and mocktail inclusions, to Bubbles packages featuring Louis Roederer Brut Premier, from the walk-in wine cellar. At any time, but especially brunch, Sands Restaurant concept is an interactive dining and open kitchen experience: a series of generous-sized live cooking stations spread across the vast floor, complete with an army of chefs.
The idea is, try your hand at cooking under Chef’s guidance, or simply watch them freshly prepare your a la minute orders right in front of you. With this, and heaps of self-serve hot and cold plates, there’s mouthwatering global dishes galore, albeit with a distinctly Asian leaning; anything from European cheeses and pastas, and grilled sizzling seafood and meats, to Japanese and Indian signatures, Dim Sum and roasted morsels, like Peking Duck. Don’t miss the just-stirred offerings from the frenetic Wok Bar, or signature Noodle Corner, where Chef makes Chinese Lamien noodles by hand; fresh noodles promptly placed in a bowl of aromatic chicken and mushroom broth, along with crispy wontons, bok choy and spicy condiments. Plenty of dessert options, but trot over to the outrageous chocolate fountain.
An acoustic live band sets the chillax factor and for much needed “our time” dining, hand your little darlings over at the lobby lounge for fully supervised, fun activities like cupcake baking. Even if you do dine en famille, the kid’s still get to make pizzas with the Chefs. Why go home after it all ends at 3pm? The ANVAYA positively encourages you to stay on at this lovely beachside spot, providing a DJ for chilled sounds and complimentary use of the resort’s three pools and ample sunbeds, shaded by trees. And before you know it, it’s time for sunset cocktails down on the beach, making a fabulous day of it.
For those not keeping up with Berawa developments (who can blame them?) The Joglo is a recent addition from the Made’s Warung family: a charming, multi-functional venue, housed within an old Joglo (a traditional Javanese wooden dwelling) in tropical grounds. Highly esteemed in Indo culture, Joglo’s are typically places where all the family gathers and this Joglo – sourced from Central Java, dismantled and relocated over to Bali – is no exception: a family-orientated oasis where families do indeed come together for quality downtime.
The main semi-open Joglo contains the all-day café, complete with gelateria, coffee and cocktail bar, pizzeria and indoor Kid’s Corner, lovingly furnished with vintage wooden seating and comfy couches, extending out to the Godsend of a small outdoor Kid’s playground, designed to Australian safety standards, with lawns and cubby house. (If you must have air-con, an adjoining Joglo provides this and In The Raw juice bar).
The Joglo’s recently launched Sunday brunch stands out from the rest; no buffet spreads or live stations here, rather, a Traditional Indonesian Rijstaffel Set Menu, created by Made’s Warung – sticking with the overall concept showcasing of Indonesian culinary traditions. Rijstaffel (“rice table”) originated from Indonesia’s Dutch colonial-era, when the Dutch were so impressed by all the delicious, diverse archipelago dishes, that they adapted many as an elaborate Rijsttaffel, dining ritual, a Dutch-Indo smorgasbord still served today. Sticking with tradition, albeit with a few modifications, The Joglo’s Indonesian Rijstaffel brunch, served from 11am to 2pm, is presented in one fell swoop, with a multitude of small plates – around 14 – consisting of traditional fish, meat and veggie dishes originating from Bali and Indonesian islands and totally representing diverse taste sensations, textures and spice levels, accompanied by rice, freshly-pounded sambals and condiments.
Expect meat dishes like Rendang Sapi, (spicy beef) and Ayam Sereh (chicken lemongrass) and vegetable offerings that run to Pepes Tahu (grilled tofu in banana leaf) and Lawar Nangka (Balinese jack fruit), rounded-off with Mango Sticky Rice. All super-casual and fun to share with family or friends – although a kid’s menu is available if needs be. This veritable feast costs just IDR125,000 per person, inclusive of a glass of Sangria or free-flow iced tea – but you could always fork out for a well-priced Bloody Mary. Even better, deposit the kids at the Kid’s Corner, where they can join-in with an arts and crafts class provided free every Sunday, while you catch-up with your favourite people, hum along to the live music and order another Bloody Mary.
Ooh la la! Bali’s only French luxury hotel brand, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, has continually won acclaim from foodies and international publications alike, for their magnifique French-orientated gastronomic brunches: a lavish spread of multiple buffet and live stations piled with premium quality imported items, including decadent French cheeses, charcuterie goodies and house-made pastries.
Hosted weekends at signature restaurant Cut Catch Cucina, Sofitel’s sumptuous Le Weekend Brunch à la Française, ranked as “One of the World’s Top Ten Brunches” by Condé Nast Traveler, subsequently succeeded by The Weekend Chic Brunch, the island’s first-ever “Haute Couture” brunch. Following on from their legend-in-a-lunchtime success, ever-evolving to keep ahead of the brunch bunch, Sofitel Nusa Dua unveils late August, their all-new Riviera Brunch, the third in this brunch trilogy. At time of going to press, it wasn’t possible to test-run any of this. But the very name, plus tag line, “The Mediterranean Flair Brunch,” evokes the French and Italian Riviera’s unmistakable cuisine, tastes and flair. And hosted again in Sofitel’s signature restaurant, now rebranded as Cucina, indulgently stretching from 11am to 3pm on Sunday, this new Riviera Brunch promises to be an even more extravagant affair and as classy as a Dior showroom.
Word is, live food stations will include classic French, Italian and Mediterranean dishes and spreads, with the usual top-notch cheeses, fresh seafood and meats, a la carte options and pass-around treats. Expect, however, a more Italian influenced set-up, what with classic Italian fish dishes, including Tuscany-style roasted barramundi, live pasta stations, fine cold cuts that run to salami and prosciutto, authentic pizzas and Italian-inspired tipples like house-made Limoncello and Amaretto – there’s even a Cannoli Bar. Brunch prices start from IDR 599,000, inclusive of free-flow non-alcoholic beverages and fruity iced teas; alcoholic packages, starting from IDR 899,000, run to the Premium Package (IDR1,799,000), which, besides brunch and free flow non-alcoholic beverages, goes overboard with beers, cocktails, fine wines and Champagne.
To help you delve further into the Riviera mindset, Cucina’s interiors recreate a nostalgic ambiance, there’s more emphasis on al fresco dining (as if beside the Mediterranean Sea) and a chic dress code calls for simply white or white-cream apparel. What hasn’t changed however, is that children below twelve dine for free, everyone gets entertained by a live magician and acoustic band, and enjoys complimentary access to the five-star’s beachfront pools. Mamma mia, Sofitel could well surpass themselves with this little Riviera number.