Ondy Sweeting heads east to Sanur’s Fairmont hotel and the new beachside offering, Pier 8. Images: Lucky 8.
Juicy crab, lush prawns and lobster buns will have east-side seafood lovers descending on Sanur’s newest beachside bar and restaurants – Pier Eight at The Fairmont Sanur Beach.
Pier Eight is a stellar addition to the growing beachside restaurant scene on the calm and pretty beach, fast becoming one of town’s most picturesque venues. The landscape is picture postcard perfect overlooking golden sand and sea to a clear view of the cliffs of Nusa Penida. Brightly coloured outrigger boats owned by the local seafaring community bob on the tranquil ocean.
As the sun sets in the west the scene blushes with a flush of pink and three iron bowls on pedestals light up with fire, setting a romantic tone for an evening of culinary delights.
Pier Eight has a tight menu that showcases fresh seafood cooked with a Louisiana flourish, inspired pizza and small plates that will satisfy beefeaters.
The real indulgence of deep-south dining is the melange of French, Creole and coast. Expect a huge bowl brimming with shellfish with rough-cut corn on the cob and purple sweet potato. The signature Seafood Boil at Pier Eight tosses together enormous black river prawns, cracked pieces of succulent mud crab, local clams and mussels that taste creamy and mellow. Louisiana spice is added with slices of chorizo and a piquant black pepper sauce. This is a guilty pleasure that requires the use of fingers and dedication to fully enjoy. Even the chips are doused in chilli-infused salt that adds a little kick to their perfect crispness. Coconut shell finger bowls ensure that dignity and white clothing remain intact.
Chef Filippo Abissa has clearly enjoyed creating this menu that depends on the sea. Given that he was raised on the coast of Sicily, Chef Filippo has an almost genetic appreciation of all things fish.
“I have worked on many islands including Mauritius, the Seychelles, Maldives and Indonesia’s Bintan Island, so I have really explored how to create interesting seafood dishes,” says the chef who has been on the pans for 24 years.
While the menu at Pier Eight is small it is well executed with clear plating in a gorgeous environment. Hot or cold lobster buns mingle chunks of lobster with celery, lemon, mushroom and chopped chives then topped with grilled cheese. It’s one impressive sandwich. There is tuna tartar, tiger prawn salad, lobster thermidor and a fresh poke bowl filled with salmon, tuna, seaweed, avocado and raw veggies.
While pizza had not been part of the original plan, Chef Filippo demanded a pizza oven to bake bread. Surprise: pizza is now on the menu with classic margherita to rendang and the truly inspired carbonara pizza that is a perfect balance of Parma ham, slices of shaved parmesan cheese, egg and rocket. It’s a superb pizza. Try it. The garlic bread is a slap of crisp pizza drizzled in oil, fresh garlic and parsley. Going off the menu – which is a habit of the chef – is a white pizza with smoked salmon, cheese and caviar. “This is a romantic pizza. Couples really love it so I suggest it when I’m chatting at the tables. It’s so good,” he says.
The small plates are excellent for sharing and include fat green olives served with fresh thyme, aranchini filled with creamy rice, crispy chorizo and the luscious Wagyu beef topped with dollops of crumbed foie gras and a sweet tomato jam and truffle oil. Two of these morsels are more than a meal for a meat lover.
“We try to buy most ingredients locally, but we bring in the lobster from Canada because cold water lobster is the best,” says chef Filippo.
Soon to be included on the menu are prawns paired with delicate lemon and wrapped in a thin pasty and flash fried for a crisp finish.
The cocktail menu is tropical and aims to be refreshing, which suits the menu well and utilises fresh island fruits, basil infusions and coconuts. The Fresca is a hit mix of vodka, Campari, fresh watermelon, mint leaves and a simple syrup while the cucumber and basil blush is a muddled drink with vodka, triple sec and sugar. Both are outstanding for Bali’s sultry equatorial heat.
Pier Eight enjoys the wonderful mother cellar of The Fairmont so the wine list is extensive. House made lemoncello or a fine French cognac as a digestive is a must, as is the palette cleansing zabaglione ice-cream with crushed cookies.
The restaurant opens at 11am, which is fitting for its front row position on the beach and it is open to the passing public. A few sun lounges are on the sand in the shade of trees and dishes are delivered to the beach.
The entire resort has an interactive sound system that plays chilled tunes and staff have access to it so if a track isn’t pleasing to the ears, just ask and with the brush of a finger it will be changed.
It’s a cool technology that allows guests to enjoy influence over the choice of music that floats on the sea breeze.