Restaurant Review: Locavore, Bali in Indonesia
Ubud, sometimes known as Bali’s cultural heart, is a region that boasts rainforest, terraced rice paddies, Hindu temples and shrines. The area was made famous partly by ‘Eat, Pray, Love’; but Locavore restaurant is earning the region a reputation for being a foodie’s paradise.
Co-owned by Dutch chef Eelke Plasmeijer, Lovacore goes against the import culture of some other Balinese restaurants. On the night I dined there with my boyfriend, Rhys, Eelke was rocking a hat that stated: ‘Go Local or Go Home’. Their two set menus (vegetarian/meat) champion locally sourced produce prepared by world-class chefs, who use contemporary cooking techniques to create a totally unique culinary experience.
Creativity is not just limited to the food menu, but the drinks list too. Our evening, as most of our holiday evenings do, started with cocktails; we tried both the ‘Lola Loh’ and ‘Ginger, Really?’. There’s no denying Eelke’s team have a real understanding of flavours which work and complement one another. The Lola Loh is a perfect example of this; the gin based drink was set alight with a pairing of grapefruit juice and mint, making for a really refreshing sundowner.
After sampling two delicious cocktails, we decided to go for the 7-course vegetarian menu with beverage pairings and it didn’t disappoint. Each dish was sublime and completely unique; the concepts behind the courses are fun but this doesn’t come at the expense of taste. I could easily write a 10,000 word piece on my 7 course culinary adventure, but I’ll limit myself to 800!
Before dining at Locavore I’d not seen the words ‘cucumber and curry’ written next to each other, but that changed on course number three. The velvety bowl of white pearls, seasoned with traditional Balinese spices was surprisingly comforting. The creaminess of the sauce, mixed with the gooey texture of the pearls, created a mushy pea-like dish that I could eat over and over again.
The style of Eelke’s cooking is far from one dimensional. Each plate packs numerous flavours which bring out the best of one another. To add a bit of wow factor, the bowl was drizzled with a fresh cucumber and dill sauce. Cucumber juice was also used in the beverage pairing and was teamed with gin and homemade ginger beer. On paper, this drink doesn’t sound particularly tasty, but the reality was something very different.
The next plate was ‘Very creamy rice’ which was exactly as the name suggests; a scrumptious bowl of locally grown Balinese rice in a creamy sauce. It’s only when you begin to examine the flavours and cooking methods that you can fully appreciate why this dish stands out. To begin with, the rice takes 4 years to grow; it’s then marinated in a creamy duck egg yolk sauce and topped with deep fried crispy rice puffs and grated dried egg yolk, which add texture. The result is a creamy concoction in which you can taste the love, effort and attention the kitchen puts in.
To wash it down, we were served a local apple cider from Northern Bali. The earthy apple flavour worked well with the creaminess of the egg and was nice and light – a lovely contrast to the milky rice.
My third favourite course was ‘Into the Wild’. From the moment we saw it on the menu, we were intrigued: served with local beer, diners are presented with an enticing mound of edible flowers, leaves and truffle which sit upon a dollop of cashew cream. The idea is that you swipe the ‘foliage’ through the cream, as you would if you were dining in the wild. The concept is fun, and it tastes delicious too.
Diners are given a dummy pair of chopsticks to eat the dish, which, for me, sums up the attitude of the restaurant; they’re not pretentious-they just want to guarantee you can fully appreciate their incredible food.
As you can tell, the dishes are pretty complex, and therefore, when each course arrives, diners are given an explanation of the plate by a lovely member of their waiting staff. Having spoken to both Eelke and his sous chefs, what strikes me is how humble they are – I don’t think they give themselves credit for the exquisite food they serve.
To summarise, our night at Locavore is one we won’t forget: it has shaped the way I view flavourings and introduced me to some incredible cooking techniques. We stayed in Ubud for five days and, every time we walked past, it was always buzzing. So, with that in mind, booking is essential!
This review has only highlighted three courses, but each plate, from the seaweed tempura and coconut yoghurt bread you’re served as a snack, to the Balinese frozen fruit pudding, was memorable in its own way.
In a nutshell, if you want an education in Indonesian food, Locavore is a must visit. Despite the 7 courses, we left feeling pleasantly full and truly educated on Bali’s best produce.
Address: Restaurant Locavore, Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Telephone: +62 361 977733