This is when I hate having dietary restrictions because I would have loved to try everything Chef Nic Vanderbeeken created here at Aperitif on the property of the Viceroy Bali. He has designed an 8 course prix fixe menu and combines flavors from Bali and other regions of the world in ways you couldn’t imagine just by reading this blog. I love degustation menus because the chef will test your senses, you can admire their culinary artistic designs, and you have the chance to taste small portions of chefs signature dishes in a fun environment.
As the grand doors open to the bar, you transport back in time to the roaring 1920’s with the colonial decor and architectural designs. I felt like I was walking into the Great Gatsby’s mansion for one of his wild parties. The decor here was over the top and every last detail made you feel like you were back in the prohibition era with the dark wood, brown leather furniture, and pool table. The ambiance here was calming and a great way to start the evening.
First, we enjoyed a specialty cocktail designed by 2017'‘s Bacardi Legacy world bartender of the year, Ran Van Ongevalle. My poison is tequila and went straight for the Bee Sting, which was delicious and beautifully decorated. You get a feel for his talent not just by the flavorful homemade infusions and artisanal spirits, but with Bali’s tropical edible flowers he uses as decor. As we sat and enjoyed our lovely cocktails, our first canapés arrived with a shockingly unique display. It was fish crudo laying on top of shells and fish skeletons- I had never seen anything like it before. Our next 4 bites, 2 each, were delivered on a beautiful silver tree. Each bite was different, colorful, and artistically created. I almost didn’t want to take a bite, it was so cute! This was a very interesting way to start the evening, I had no idea what else to expect.
Not only did the bar transport you back in time, but the grand dinning room as well. With beautiful chandlers, black and white checker floors, and ostrich features as a detail on each table, you really could get a feel for the 1920’s. I love a restaurant that has an open kitchen, not only to see how clean it is, but it’s fun to watch the Chef create each dish.
Before we are seated, Robyn and I have the chance to meet head chef Nic and pastry chef Alexander. Chef collaborated with Michelin star chefs constantly, which introduces new flavors, styles, and designs to the menu. As we say hello, we are served are bites are served right in front of them. Since I have a dietary restriction, chef prepared a crisped brown rice chip with tofu cream and edible flowers for myself. Robyn had the chance to try his signature dish, the coconut charcoal puff.
The photos on the left are what chef had prepared for myself, and on the right are what Robyn enjoyed.
This course had a very strong Japanese influence with not only the flavor, but the design. On the left is the Ceviche with lexie de tigre, homemade coconut milk, and hijiki from Japanese. On the right is the Tuna Tataki with cured foie gras, miso, nori, sesame, and dashi.
Next, I enjoyed the Pumpkin which was pickled with rosemary, marigold, edamame pure. Normally there is a pumpkin ice cream with this dish, but unfortunately I was able to taste it due to my dietary restrictions. Robyn had the Karedok which was 6 different sliced vegetables veggies, with a peanut sauce and pickled pineapple vinegar.
My next course, the Papaua Crab, was one of my favorites with kohlrabi, Kaluga Caviar, ikura, gulai, and edible gold! Robyn, had the Yellow Rice with risotto, beef cheek, kha Kai, and sambal matah. Traditionally, yellow rice is only served on special holidays and unique occasions in Bali, so we joked that this was meant for my 30th birthday celebration.
Normally, I don’t eat red meat, but for Chef Nic’s Venison Wellington, I couldn’t say no. As he rolled a cart to the table, I could smell the hints of cinnamon and a buttery pastry, and just had to dive right into this dish. This dish is meant for two guests and served with foie gras, truffle, himeji, rendang, and cardamon spices.
Before we were served dessert, Chef sent over a complimentary sorbet of mangosteen & sour soup fruit. If this was sold at a local grocery store, I could eat a pint of it a day! Truly, delicious and refreshing.
Now it was Chef Alexanders time to greet us at our table to explain his designs and flavors behind each desert. I had the vegan dessert, Bubur Injin, with black rice, spiced mango sorbet, coconut, sesame, and a side of a homemade granola bite. The little dots on the plate are black sesame seeds, green mango, and coconut bites. Robyn’s dessert was one of the most adorable dessert displays I’ve ever seen. She had the PB&J with Aperitif Cacao, berries, and meringue. It was served with a goodie paper bag with an actual mini sandwich inside. Chef Alexander is from America and brought a little sense of nostalgia as a child in New York City to his recipe here in Bali.
When we thought it was all done, there were plenty more amazing little treats created by chef Alexander to enjoy. By the time this rolled around, I thought I couldn’t eat anymore, until I heard what each piece was. Not only did we enjoy a few extra little bites at the end of our meal, but they gave us a little box of goodies to go. What was supposed to be a 5 course meal for us, turned into a 10 course meal. Robyn and I walked away full and with memories we will cherish forever. I highly recommend making a reservation here at Aperitif even if you are not staying at the Viceroy Bali. It’s no wonder why it is the #1 restaurant in all of Ubud, Bali.