Sundara Restaurant and Bar, Four Seasons Resort Bali
Words by Kirsten Durward
Photos by The Yum List (Monica Tindall)
Sundara is still a relatively new restaurant on the Bali dining scene, having opened only in December 2012. It is already though making quite an impact and in our questioning round Bali, has been on every chef and restaurant managers top five list. Impressive! There are different areas to eat in, depending on the style of experience you want for your evening. The mezzanine floor indoors is extremely elegant, the outside terrace more relaxed, with fantastic views. We plump for downstairs, liking the vibe of the charcuterie bar and the kitchen business. Our table fronts out a large open French window, overlooking the dark water of the lily ponds, the turquoise blue of the infinity pool to the dusky light of the ocean beyond. There is a little surf up and we can see as well as hear, the rips. I sigh with satisfaction and just glory in this perfect moment.
Monica is delighted to meet another Aussie Chef, Greg Bundt, who explains his concept of simple, light and fresh cuisine, using local ingredients where possible but reaching out for quality when necessary. He waxes, ‘I love cooking with seafood, spices and all the seductive ingredients that surround us here in Bali but I believe in staying true to each country’s cuisine, never confusing flavours.”
As he describes the dishes on the menu, they all sound so mouthwatering that we wonder how on earth we can choose. We ask him to select the best from the menu for us, the unmissable dishes to have at Sundara. Once chosen, the sommelier comes over to consult on wines. We’ve been having fun playing with the I-pad wine menu, which lists the wines by type, by country, by colour, but also provides tasting notes at tables and an option to email yourself the wine label of the wine you tasted. A novel idea. But we are happy for wines to be selected to go with chef’s choices for dinner.
A whole loaf of fresh home-baked rosemary bread arrives, on a slab of wood. Monica is already cutting it up and delving into a big chunk. ‘Worth trying,’ she says, knowing I don’t always eat the bread. I dunk it in the olive tapenade and I get it, big bold med flavours by the sea, with the salt in the air and just great freshness brought out in the food.
Our natural red Ubud pottery plates do not stay empty for long as a tumble of Mediterranean countries arrive. On the Charcuterie Sampler, Reggianno cheese nestles with duck pistachio terrine, finely sliced chorizo lies alongside divinely flavoured Jamon Iberico, while chicken liver parfait fills a generous sized bowl. Everything accompanied by homemade tomato relish, pickled radish, gherkins and black olives
Monica loves the parfait, moaning over its mousy lightness, for myself I prefer the hearty terrine with the sweet boost of relish. The ham and cheese pair with the pesto, on the rosemary bread. I remember the tapas of chorizo wrapped pickle so try one my own style and it’s just as good.
To balance out the meatiness of the sampler, Chef has sent us an Arugula Salad. It’s unusually dry, with plenty of super fine pecorino, slivers of crunchy pear, shavings of almond and a bang of lemon zest. Good if you like a citrusy tang to your salad. (Arugula Salad IDR 105,000 ++)
Our starters are accompanied by an Italian varietal wine. There’s just a hint of green in the clear colour, a light and pleasant bouquet on the nose. On tasting, it’s full flavoured with ripe fruit notes, but still dry enough to cleanly cut through the fats of the cheese and meats, complementing the dishes well. (Pio Cesare Gave, Piedmont, 2011 Bottle IDR 800,000++ Glass IDR 189,000++)
Everyone we have asked for their favourite dish on the menu, has replied, ‘The snapper.’ In fact we have been told it is amazing. So anticipation is high when Grilled Snapper appears at the table. My knife cuts to the sweet and salty skin to the moist flaky fish below. The fennel crust, is as described – amazing! Snapper is served with a colourful trio of relish sauces. Monica murmurs that one reminds her of Argentinian Chimichurri. I of course like the chili hit in another. However, the fine taste notes of fennel, garlic, orange, capers and just a hint of anise, mean that the fish actually needs no accompaniment, and I enjoy it best as it comes ‘au naturel’ with its delectable caramelised crust. Clearly some of the best fish in Bali. (Snapper Fillet IDR 170,000 ++)
Sauces for the fish
New Zealand Sauvignon is a natural pairing to snapper so we are happy to see Cloudy Bay being poured for us. Since I discovered it in the early 90’s, I have always loved its intense notes of gooseberries, tropical fruit, and grapefruit zest, with just slight herby undertones. This one is crisp, dry and medium bodied with a long finish and it is perfect with this fish. (Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 bottle IDR 1150,000 ++ glass IDR 235,000++)
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Twenty two different spices have been combined to marinade this lamb, which cuts softly to reveal a deep pink centre. The meat is firm, juicy and bursting with texture. We chew in silence, savouring each mouthful of pleasure. I love it so much that I pick up the bone to nibble off all the meat. Then just when I was wishing my fingers were not quite so oily, a smiling server appears out of nowhere, like the genie from the lamp. He is holding out a wooden box of cold fresh lemongrass scented towels. This is Balinese service at its very very best!
The side dish of vegetables could easily be a meal in its own right; tender salted baby carrots with charred herbs, Softest roast pumpkin with a zingy yoghurt dressing and spinach, coated in some kind of glistening herb oil, all have to be declared delicious. They are rustic hearty Mediterranean style dishes with robust flavours, served simply but with a casual elegance. (Salt Bush Lamb Rack is a two person sharing plate IDR 780,000 ++)
A good lamb dish deserves a decent red wine. We are offered a Mencia, which we have tasted before and it needs a little breathing space to open into its wild berry flavours and mineral notes. When breathed, it has a silky texture and is quite lively, pairing well with meats. The subtle spices in the lamb and the juicy pinkness of the meat add depth to this medium bodied red. The best wine pairings mean that the food brings out the flavours in the wine, and we are quite satisfied with what we have been offered at Sundara tonight. (Valdeorras Telmo Rodrigueez, Gab do Zil , Mencia Bottle IDR 850,000++ Glass IDR 180,000++)
The salty breeze flows in through the window as the moonlight sparkles on the foaming waves. I feel sorry for anyone who is not here tonight. As Monica says, we are very lucky girls. There is a soft ambient light and it is so pleasant looking out to sea. We have lost awareness of the service behind us, it is hardly a restaurant feel at all. Plates come and go, wine is poured without disturbance. Although we know the restaurant is busy, we genuinely feel that we are the only two customers in our own little nook. It is a truly relaxing indoors-outdoors experience, my favourite kind of living,
I ask the waiter if dessert and coffee can be taken in one of the glorious fat white lounge cabanas beside the pool and the reply comes, ‘of course!’ Well that’s the pleasure of being with the Four Seasons in Bali, nothing appears to be too much to ask for! Photography light, however, dictates that we must stay where we are as chef appears again, smiling at our compliments and describing the delights of desserts.
There are multiple original and fresh choices on the menu including pineapple Carpaccio with pink peppercorn, but we opt for the opulent options. Three people have recommended Lemon Tart and it's a joint favourite so a must to try. We are told that Bourbon Chocolate is the most popular dish, and as acknowledged chocoholics we are happy to taste that one too.
They arrive, simply presented, lusciously glistening on natural slate bases. I may have eaten a lot tonight, but my mouth is watering and I can’t wait to dive in. We were warned that Chef likes to surprise, and Lemon Tart has a special surprise for me, a brulee topping, mmmmhmm. Crack, crack goes the spoon, dipping through to the citrusy Labneh and topping off with the slightly sour and salty cream. It’s light and luscious, and we polish it off quickly. (Lemon Tart with Citrus Labneh IDR 80,000++)
Bourbon Chocolate is a tempting tower of chocolate mousse cake topped by caramelized almond orange crisp. Digging in reveals a decadent dark and sultry flavour in the firm soft texture with the real taste of bourbon seeping out. Our Caramel Ice-Cream is melting into spiced pecans. This is crunchy sticky spicy drunken heaven! If I wasn’t so full, I would ask for another one. For me, this is the best dessert I’ve eaten in Bali, and I’ve eaten some great ones. (Bourbon Chocolate with Caramel Ice-Cream IDR 80,000++)
Reasons to visit: I really want to say all of it. I can’t fault the experience. The food, the service, the location, the ambience. It’s an unmissable experience if you love food and you are in the area.
All Day Al Fresco 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Cocktail Happy Hour 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Lunch 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner 6:00- 11:00 pm
Sundara at Four Seasons Resort
Tel: +62 (0) 361 708333
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