Barefoot Dining With A Dash Of Elan

Super chic island tree house Azul offers funky barefoot dining with a dash of élan.

It is hard to define what is most striking when you enter Azul Beach Club. Is it the beautiful bamboo building, the infinity pool, the signature blue aesthetic or the point blank view of the white sand and blue ocean.

Perched just metres back from the beach it feels like to super chic island tree house.

The entire Azul package really requires a day to experience it in all of its forms; a casually chic dining room for watching the kitchen action, a hip top floor Tiki Bar tree circling the bar or sun lounge pods that flank the adults only pool.

The cocktails are island examples of full flavoured combinations. Vacation in a Glass is a mix of citrus juices and sparkling wine while a Nusa Caña Coconut Mojito is exactly what Robinson Crusoe needed. Presentation is fun with giant Tiki mugs, suspended glasses and a smoking treasure chest filled with dry ice and a potent punch of hibiscus, ginger and six different types of punch.

The menu only alludes to the ingredients with key words like ‘spiced & exotic’ and ‘sour & refreshing’, but our remarkable waitress had an encyclopedic knowledge of the elements that made each cocktail. An impressive skill given there is more than a dozen complex concoctions on the menu. She didn’t skip a beat.

The lunch menu covers all bases with raw/rare/organic plates, pizza, tapas, mains, burgers/taco/casual plates with side dishes and enhancers plus a four part dessert series.

Azul has a neat selection of five wood-fired pizzas that range from the left-of-field tom yum king prawn pizza with green mango slaw and kaffir lime leaves to traditional Napolitana with tomato, anchovies, capers and cheese, through to a classic Hawaiian with fresh pineapple and pepperoni and the Azul signature pizza with king prawns, kalamata olives, wild mushrooms, aged mozzarella and fresh basil.

Beyond the pizza is where things get interesting. Chef Arief Wicaksono has developed a menu that skillfully offers easy poolside dining, which is family friendly and great for upscale noshing while regularly giving flashes that lift the moment to gastronomy.

Chef Arief has an enviable history as Chef de Partie launching Ku De Ta, then on to Dubai’s Wafi Complex, a mixed gourmet experience with 30 restaurants and demanding clients. He returned to Bali as Chef de Cuisine at the Conrad Resort and then opened Karma Kandara. After another spell in the United Arab Emirates he came home to Bali to join Métis as Executive Chef.

He now curates a universal menu at Azul Beach Club that is exciting and satisfying.

A salad and the stuffed jalapeños served as an entrée (with the crunch of herbs crusted then flash fried chilli) stuffed with melted cheese was a standout with balanced textures and a tonne of flavour without being overwhelmed by hot chilli spice. Crisp quarters of rough-cut romaine lettuce, shaved Gran Padano and anchovies were part of a deconstructed Caesar salad, topped with half a black charcoal mini-baguette as the crouton.

Vegetarians will enjoy the falafel and hummus burritos and the arugula and artichoke risotto.

Chef Arief employs his imported tandoori oven and delivers a delicious green tandoori chicken with a side of coriander raita to go with the charcoal cheese naan bread.

The butter tender 150-day aged rib-eye steak from Australia was cooked to perfection and covered in a rich garlic butter that was so full of herbs that it was boarding on a béarnaise. Perfect for dunking the Cajun spiced potato wedges into.

Jimbaran seafood appears in a tagliatelle with prawns, sea scallops, clams and squid cooked, tossed then drizzled in a saffron, lemon and butter sauce.

To round off with something sweet, The Spanish churros are feather light and dusted in cinnamon sugar and dripped into salted caramel sauce or melted chocolate. The mango panna cotta is crafted with coconut cream, white meringue, mango salsa and berry coulis and is lusciously sweet-soft. Kids will love the shocking Azulshakes that look like a circus in a glass wreathed in sugar sprinkles and crowned with whipped cream and lollipops or salted caramel and chocolate or cookies and cream. These are showstoppers.

A compact wine list offers French and Italian choices of a chilled rosé from France to New Zealand’s Astrolabe Pinot Gris. A Chilean cabernet sauvignon and Italian sangiovese are offered by the glass while choice reds come from New Zealand, France, Australia and the USA. The cellar is stacked with Moet and Chandon, Taittinger, and Veuve. Chile’s Validivieso sparkling moscato wine and Chandon non-vintage sparkling is perfect for quaffing by the pool.

All in, Azul is funky barefoot dining with a dash of élan. O.S.

www.azulbali.com

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