Generosity of spirit is at the heart of Sandat Glamping’s culinary journey. Ondy Sweeting samples Italian favourites and Balinese fare at Ubud’s standout retreat.
If ever there was a reason to disappear into the green fields of Ubud and set up camp it is dining at Sandat Glamping.
This elegant and casual restaurant buzzes to the fabulous voice of Nina Simone beneath vaulted ceilings crafted from bamboo and thatch. Chilled Ubud vibes run through this gorgeous destination which features quirky interiors of rococo-island chic with cute touches like little chandeliers hanging from a huge yucca tree. It is a testament to the elegant euro-tropical style of its creator Emanuela Padoan.
A large blue glass jug of chilled water lands on the dinner table promising a spirit of generous hospitality. Too often simple courtesies such as water on arrival are rare. It also confirms Sandat’s dedication to eco-friendly practices and limiting damaging footprints.
A bowl of warm hand-cut potato crisps also hits the table along with a dish of warm smoked salmon rosetta served with a tangy Marie Rose sauce plus a wooden tray of assorted canapés that included some tasty mushroom pate and caper and a chilled ratatouille topped with an olive. Another nice touch along with the exquisite blue and white china and pretty cut crystal dishes.
Host Frederico Carrer happily roams the restaurant floor delivering cold glasses of ‘spritz’, a refreshing mix of Italian proscecco, Campari and soda – to all diners, and on the house. This is the type of friendly Italian style hospitality that legends are made of.
Sandat’s menu is a neat mélange of South East Asian dishes, authentic Balinese delicacies, fish dishes and pasta. In fact, the pasta menu is a go-to section for vegetarians with four of the six options being plant based and including a pesto with a fresh tomatoes, a tagliatelle with sugo and hot peppers, plus a farfelle pasta with grilled vegetables and olives. Meat eaters can take the lush spaghetti alla carbonara that is salty with bacon and creamily delicious.
The Balinese menu requires 24 hours notice given the length of preparation time these dishes demand. Duck and chicken will be smoked to order and presented with traditional side dishes of yellow rice, lawar vegetables and further spiced with sambal matah, a unique Balinese blend of birds eye chilli, garlic, shallots, roasted dried shrimp paste, lime juice and extra virgin coconut oil.
It’s divine when paired with fowl.
Sandat also has a crispy duck dinner, which comes with that quintessential Balinese favourite satay lilit – mince chicken or pork or fish, spiced and wrapped around bamboo or a lemongrass stalk and grilled over coconut husk charcoal.
Eurocentric dishes such as a classic Caesar salad and pan seared tuna – perfectly pink in the centre – served on potato fondant, onion confit, crunchy green beans and a cream and mushroom sauce evoke family dinners on special occasions.
The white wine list is tight with a choice of local brands plus a couple of sparkling wines from Chile and French Champagne. A better wine selection is for the reds, which come from Italy, Australia and Bali. But who needs wines when Frederico has introduced the joys of Spritz?
A long communal dining table seats 14 people and is a fabulous central place to meet and chat with other guests. The glamping site has only five exquisite safari tents and three permanent lumbung, so it’s easy to get chatting to other guests in this sweet space.
Breakfast is a small and perfect buffest set on the wood and stone bar with pretty cut crystal jugs, jars and glasses. An impressive range of honey – think raw, coffee, kelengkeng, summer flower, mango and white honey plus bee pollen are there to dress up fresh yoghurt, granola and fruit while larger breakfast dishes are cooked to order. Morning coffee arrives in a jug, as does the tea, which means reordering the second dose of caffeine is not required.
At every turn staff arrive with very welcome jugs of iced water infused with mint and citrus fruits.
Daytime snacks are fresh and fast with the biggest hit being the vegetable springs rolls that are fat with carrot, sprouts, savoy cabbage and onion. The piping hot potato chips are a pool success, too.
Sandat’s interiors are a bonus that makes a visit a must-do for any aesthete. A standout serpentine wall separates the kitchen from the dining room and is bedecked with 101 mirrors of different shapes and sizes. Alexander palms border a luxurious lounge room with deep comfy sofas and a huge coffee table holding beautiful silver candle sticks. It’s rather a 1930s picture with a chessboard and chessmen of hand carved pieces in images from Balinese mythology. Painted, forged iron garden furniture coupled with big cane chairs create a space that feels like a visit to a stylish friend’s home. A small packed shelf of books is the icing on living room cake in this gorgeous corner.
Sandat’s restaurant is delightfully decorated with hand -selected pieces of beautiful frippery, which Emanuela has acquired on her global journeys. In fact, the couple moves between Italy and Bali often. They own a sister glamping retreat – the Canonici di San Marco – in the rural olive groves outside of Venice where east meets west in a sustainable environment that does not forsake luxury in either hemisphere. The best of both worlds? O.S.