Words: Katrina de Laszlo Photos: Monica Tindall
Entering The Plantation Grill is like being taken back in time to another era and location. You are now in 1920s, the period of Prohibition in the United States of America. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, ‘The Great Gatsby.’ Picture yourself walking into a scene from ‘Bugsy Malone.’ This time travel experience seems a little incongruous with what lies outside the restaurant doors (Double-Six Luxury Hotel, Double-Six Beach and Seminyak) but The Plantation Grill has been designed so effectively that you really could believe that you had entered some sort of time warp!
The Plantation Grill is the extremely atmospheric creation of renowned chef Robert Marchetti, decorated in dark wood and marble finishes, luxurious leather seating, stained glass windows, double height ceilings, and intimately lit dining tables and booths. It really is quite the contrast to the modern and relaxed vibe of Double-Six Luxury Hotel, which exists only metres away.
Cocktails at The Sling Bar
We were greeted at the door and ushered upstairs to The Sling Bar, a martini bar located at the top of a spiral staircase. There we found our cocktail maker, Wisny, a true creative who was so enthusiastic to showcase his concoctions we were already three cocktails down before we sat down to eat!
His first creation was a ‘Toasted Sour’ (IDR 140) made with Bitter Truth Gin, Aperol, fresh grapefruit, fresh lemon juice, orange marmalade and egg white. With all the fresh fruit in it, this cocktail was refreshing and probably quite dangerous in excess due to the fact we almost feel like we were drinking a lovely fruit juice and not a cocktail! The flavour of the marmalade orange slice really shone through, and combined with the pyrotechnic display as the bartender bruléed the egg white on top, led to this being my top cocktail of the night.
Next up was a true work of art, the ‘Mint Julep with a Twist’ (IDR 150), the ‘twist’ being the local fruit tamarillo used instead of the usual fresh pomegranate. This beautiful looking drink includes Bourbon whiskey, homemade orange bitters, tamarillo, rosella syrup and fresh mint leaves. The bartender literally built the cocktail upon an ice coated metal cup. This beverage was particularly addictive thanks to the tamarillo.
Wisny, overhearing a conversation Monica was having about ‘serious’ drinks, surprised us with a third potation. The ‘T. Taylor Sazerac’ (IDR 160) has four simple ingredients (Rye Whiskey, Absinthe, sugar lump cube and bitters), and in comparison to the previous two drinks, would not necessarily be considered a work of art in presentation, but beauty was found in its simple potency. Monica’s firm favourite was garnished with the peel of a local orange, which interestingly is green in colour, and we appreciated this Balinese touch.
Food at The Plantation Grill
We were sad to say goodbye to our spirited bartender Wisny but our stomachs were growling and there was an interesting looking menu calling us. We were welcomed by Menno, Chief Sommelier, an extremely personable Dutchman who was clearly born to work in hospitality. The restaurant prides itself on its dry-aged, exclusively sourced and imported meat as well as its line caught sustainable seafood. Unable to decide which direction to take, Menno sensibly suggested a wine-paired tasting menu, which would allow us to take in a wide variety of what the menu had to offer in smaller portions.
Installed at our table, we were offered some house-baked breads, our favourite being the gluten-free ‘Bread of Life,’ which is a delightful mixture of seeds and gluten free flour, equally delicious with or without the house-made butter. The sommelier offered us an aperitif of Casa Vinicola Zonin a Prosecco N.V. (IDR 600 a bottle) from Veneto in Italy, which we gladly accepted; a wonderful dry prosecco with fine bubbles.
A smartly dressed waiter in prohibition style, topped off with black and white shoes, prepared our ‘Ceviche Meets Tartare’ (IDR 180) at the table. This was a delicate fresh mix of raw grouper, salmon and wild barramundi with fresh fennel, mint and caviar and served with the most divine thin and crispy garlic and herb butter toast. We were served a fresh Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand called The Crossings (bottle IDR 700). Its grassy and peachy taste was the perfect accompaniment to balance the acidity in the ceviche.
The ceviche was followed by my absolute favourite, the ‘San Francisco Fish Soup’ (IDR 240 entrée). The entrée size was a small but sweet dish but the intensity of the flavour was incredible and made it seem larger than life. There was a spicy kick to the tomato broth but this was perfectly toned down by the fresh parsley. The dry Bô Rivage Rosé, Cinsault Blend 2014, from Provence (bottle IDR 600) worked really well with the powerful flavours of the ‘house cioppino’ and its freshness was a great match with the spice in the soup.
Thank goodness for the smaller sized portions on the tasting menu. It would have been hard to resist the next dish, which was an intensely fragrant ‘Whole Spit Roast Quail’ (IDR 305) served with sides of Paris Mash Potato (IDR 65) and Sweet Potato Fries flavoured with Black Truffle (IDR 95). The roasted quail was magnificent, gamey but not overpowering. The Paris mash potato was so smooth it was like a thick cream and Monica went wild for the purple sweet potato; a firm favourite. The sommelier had wisely chosen a young and punchy 2015 Pinot Noir from Veramonte in the Casablanca Valley in Chile to accompany the quail. (Price is not available at the time of writing).
There was just enough space in our tummies to have a taste of the Kiwami Waygu Sirloin Full Blood 9+ 300g (IDR 1375). The meat was velvety and melted in the mouth and was accompanied by a delicious and light Bearnaise sauce and delightfully fresh ‘Smashed Broccoli and Garlic’ (IDR 80). The steak was paired with an enticing 2012 cabernet merlot blend from the Margaret River wine region in Australia. The Watershed 2012 Cabernet Merlot (bottle IDR 750) was an excellent match for the red meat with its bay leaf, strawberry and crumbly oak flavours.
Dessert offers another opportunity for The Plantation Grill to remind us of the era it is emulating. A waiter with gloves drove by with a Dessert Trolley (IDR 95) covered in delicious looking sweet creations. We, however, chose to order the ‘ “New Old School” Baked Bombe Alaska’ (IDR 180) and ‘The Indonesian Affogato’ (IDR 152) and were not disappointed. The theatricals continued with the presentation of the Baked Alaska which was flambéed in front of us on the table. Menno, the Chief Sommelier, was proud to put forward a sweet local wine from Hatten Wines. The Pino de Bali N.V (IDR 450 for a 375ml bottle) is aged in French oak for over five years, giving it a unique balance of complex aromas and flavours. Often served as a dessert wine, it would make a wonderful aperitif too.
Robert Marchetti and team set out to take their guests back to early to mid twentieth century (with a twist) the moment they walk through the doors of The Plantation Grill and they have certainly achieved this. Every detail has been so well thought out, from the décor and lighting, the waiter’s uniforms, the dessert trolley, to the private party room next to the Sling Bar and the ‘Boudoir’ for the ladies. It was a truly memorable experience and one I hope to repeat one day.
Reasons to visit: The live jazz on a Friday and Saturday night is fabulous and undoubtedly enhances your Plantation Grill experience. The passion of the bartender, Wisny, and the Chief Sommelier, Menno, make all the difference. Enjoying the superb quality of food in such interesting surroundings.
Prices are quoted in ‘000’ IDR and are subject to 11% government tax and 10% service charge.