Karen Donald visits an always popular bistro that combines fresh produce with a well deserved reputation for great French food.
O Lala Bistronomy is located right within the friendly community of Umalas, presenting simple homemade French cuisine with Mediterranean influences and a little tropical twist. It was created by Fabrice Capron, former chef at La Tomate on Réunion Island and proprietor Aurélien Chevalier to offer an “after work rendez-vous” for those living in the neighbourhood.
Despite opening the same month as Mount Agung’s eruption in November 2017, Bali’s French gem has been immensely popular from day one. Located in the emerald paddy fields between Kerobokan and Canggu, O Lala has a great atmosphere with beautiful décor. Sit at the bar for a discussion among loved ones or dine out on authentic French food and excellent wine.
“Fabrice and I have been friends since art school”, Aurélien recalls. “We are from the north of France; I worked previously as a movie director and online art director for my company and DDB. Fabrice had his clothes company – Stylist – and a restaurant on Réunion Island. We visited Bali for the first time 20 years ago and have lived here for six years now.”
The restaurant’s atmosphere is modern with rustic features to mimic traditional French country interiors. It seats 60 customers, including at the bar; a combination of open windows and A/C keeps the venue cool. Arrive at 6pm for a quiet meal, or 9pm to mix with a fun-loving crowd of expats and tourists.
Fabrice and Aurélien believe in “Bistronomy”, which is all about enjoying quality ingredients and superb cooking in a warm, friendly environment. Bistronomy puts the emphasis back on using the best produce. There is no need for luxurious ingredients, it’s much better to use locally sourced, seasonal produce, supporting independent farming along the way. At O Lala you will find fresh, healthy ingredients made by French expats.
According to Aurélien: “Bistronomy is a mix between Bistro and Gastronomy. Bistro food with a gastronomic twist. We include Mediterranean influences, (Italian, Spanish, North African) because they are important in French food. It makes sense to include them when you live under the sun!”
Aurélien is often at O Lala to discuss the menu with customers or highlight the weekly specials and wine list. As per the Proprietors recommendation, try tasty entrées such as Scallops Au Gratin or Foie Gras Ravioles. The homemade Fish Ceviche is made to perfection, the Escargots Bourguignon-style are soft and smooth – melting in the mouth – while the wholesome Onion Soup with rustic bread is full of flavour.
For the mains – you will not be disappointed with the classic Entrecôte Béarnaise (250gr of beef), the Tuna Tartare, or Limande Meuniere; try hearty Hachis Parmentier Beef with comforting mashed potatoes, candied onions, bacon crisps, and a Lyonnaise wine sauce, or the Moussaka Verde, definitely a hit on the menu for vegetarians. The Burrata & Rucola Salad with homemade burrata cheese will tickle your taste buds, alongside fresh tomato carpaccio, roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic caramel. Not forgetting Lamb Medallions, with garlic cream, hazelnut oil, pea puree and asparagus.
The menu is quite extensive, with daily specials like the fresh oysters from Java (six or 12 Pieces) to accompany your Champagne. Desserts are beautifully presented: Opera Cake is tempting, with classic French treats such as Lemon Meringue Tart, Caramel Custard, and Chocolate Fondant.
Atmosphere and ambiance in the restaurant is cozy. Decked out with murals, soft lightning, a large bar and low tables for diving into an iced Expresso Martini or some Octopus Lemon & Olive Oil or Chorizo Con Tomate Tapas. Sip wine in comfort, with lanterns and sofas alongside French cuisine-lovers – a great place to mingle and meet the friendly expats of Bali. After dinner it gets lively, especially at weekends. If you’re looking for a busy place, then O Lala Bistronomy is an ideal spot.
“Our only goal is that people have a good time,” Aurélien says. “We created the décor and mural ourselves. I did the artwork for the mural with Ogut (a Balinese painter). The interiors were created by Fabrice. We have DJ’s on Friday’s playing retro and post-modern tracks until 1am,” says Aurélien. “Funk, hiphop, disco and house music: it’s a Friday party! We have live acoustic guitar on Saturday nights, blues, Latin, jazz, and flamenco.” Cozily nestled in the village of Umalas – O Lala is among the best traditional French food options on the island, without a doubt.