A year ago Bali was all a tither about tacos. Mexican food was having its moment in the sun [did someone say Motel Mexicola]? High-end interpretations of regional Indonesian street food elbowed their way in next, with Chef Will Meyrick of Sarong blazing the way for Merah Putih, Mejakawi and the latest addition, Bambu, from the talented team at La Lucciola.
Culinary trends on this island move quickly though and word on the street is that it’s all about the lifestyle concept restaurant now. The kind of place where you can pick up some beautiful gifts whilst having pre-dinner aperitivo [such as at the rather stylish SOUQ which we featured a few weeks ago] or admire French-style linen napkins and cushions whilst throwing back your third espresso of the day.
With its finger firmly on the culinary pulse, the newly opened Bazaar – Philosophy of Food on Jalan Batubelig is a promising new contender in Seminyak’s highly competitive foodie scene. When the sun goes down it’s all about the fine dining restaurant and bar, and by day the adjoining gourmet grocery store offers up an impressive selection of imported wine and cheese, freshly baked bread and kitchen cupboard treats.
High ceilings are used to full advantage by a tall tree with branches the colour of biscuits grandstanding in the centre of the room. It’s a lovely organic touch in what is a very contemporary, warehouse-style room. It’s not all clean lines and matte concrete floors though. The low-vaulted wooden beams in the annexed dining room have a little German-Swiss Alps thing going on which we immediately adored.
We opted for their signature dishes and were glad we did. The melted provolone we tucked into as a starter was like the ultimate desconstructed grilled cheese sandwich: a rustic ramekin filled with hot, gooey goodness that we piled onto toasted triangles. It disappeared in about two minutes and we promptly ordered another!
A plate of sliced juicy tomatoes is accompanied by a generous tumble of creamy Persian-style fetta cheese that’s made in-house over three days and is seriously worth it.
Mains are all shared family-style, with side dishes available separately so it’s easy to create your own bespoke feast.
The slow roasted lamb shoulder falls off the bone like butter. It tastes like lamb roast, but it’s a polished pull-apart version that you’ll be thinking about in weeks to come, long after the last thyme-studded mouthful is over. [Turns out the secret to getting that kind of tenderness is cooking it twice: roasting it first, then slow braising for hours. Talk about commitment.]
Our hands-down favourite was the whole barramundi baked in salt. A trick borrowed from European-style cooking, this method has got to be one of the best ways of cooking and serving whole fish. And it’s so simple: take one whole white-fleshed fish and literally bake it in a case of sea salt.
We loved it all: the way the waiter rolled a tray with the whole baked fish over to our table, so we could see him scrape off the hand-harvested Balinese sea salt to reveal the fish underneath. The way the skin just glides off, glistening moist fillets of flesh underneath. Fish done like this is always slightly wet – the salt traps all the moisture, allowing it to cook in its own juice. A dollop of the freshly pounded, bright green salsa verde that’s served alongside is all it needs.
It’s a little theatre: a nod and wink to seaside lunches in the middle of a hot Italian summer.
The salt intensifies the scent [it’s almost a bit too much fish-market for our delicate noses!], but the flavor is so clean and sweet that we vow to come back for it again.
The food at Bazaar is not fussy. Nothing is tricked up. There are no emulsions or foams. It’s just good food. Done well.
We hear they’re doing breakfast and lunch now. With an in-house bakery churning out hot-out-of-the-oven paninis and French toast with house-made sweet almond ricotta on the menu, we’ll say yes to that.
BAZAAR – PHILOSOPHY OF FOOD
No. 7 Jalan Batu Belig, Seminyak
Ph: 0361 473 2292
Opening hours – 7:30am to 11:00pm.
Dinner reservations recommended.