Winter was fast approaching and all reports were that it was going to be a freezing cold start. With this in mind I packed my bags and headed to Bali for a week. This was going to be my third trip to Bali in 16 months. Like I preach here, a little bit of research goes a very long way and luckily I have a friend who lives there who gave me all the local tips. I can safely assume that a number of you will be heading to Bali within the next few months, so here is my 50 First Dates | Bali ‘special’.
Merah Putih | Kerobokan
First things first, walking into this restaurant & bar (which only opened in March) is an absolute joy. The architectural design of the building has incorporated a stunning indoor / outdoor experience. As Bali’s weather can be just about as inconsistent as Melbourne’s, the restaurant looks and feels as you are outdoors, however you are comfortably indoors. Floor-to-wall glass windows and indoor palm trees help create this but the standout is the rainfall columns which cascade water from the roof into the floors water feature.
When one travels, I think there are 3 types of travellers. The first traveller dives head first into the local cuisine and loves trying the flavours of the region. The second traveller likes to go to all the fancy and top rated restaurants in the area. The third only seeks out restaurants that serve ‘western food’. What Merah Putih has done is create food that would impress the pants off all three of those travellers. Without sounding like an oxymoron, Merah Putih specialises in modern traditional Indonesian food that is cool & delicious. It’s all designed to share with small and large plates with a unique blend of traditional dishes like an Indonesian curry (Tuturuga Udang) and modern dishes like Padang Beef Shin ‘Bak Pao’. And fear not, the staff will cheerfully talk you through the menu with aplomb.
Merah Putih is a knock-their-socks-off kind of date, so all you need to bring is the banter.
Motel Mexicola | Seminyak
Mexican restaurants have been popping up everywhere in Melbourne over the past 12 months. It seems after Mamasita made it cool, everyone wanted to get onboard the Mexican bandwagon.
The craze has now made it all the way to Bali, with a Sydneysider opening up Motel Mexicola earlier this year in Seminyak. They say the first bite is with the eyes, and the eyes get a massive mouthful even before you walk into the place. If it wasn’t for the Balinese man out the front trying to sell you Viagra you would swear you were in Mexico. The whole place is an explosion of colours, lights, Jesus pictures, mirrors to scare way bad spirits, candles and all manner of Mexican paraphernalia. And this is just the outside. Inside is an Instagramers playground as they continue the crazy Mexican design with an outdoor courtyard / bar / restaurant.
When I visited for dinner we had a large group and the staff were more than happy to order for us. It wouldn’t have been hard as the menu is tiny which helps when deciding what to have. As opposed to Melbourne’s more tex-mex offerings, MM go with a more traditional sharing menu with mains such as whole fish and beef ribs. Plus there are plenty of smaller options to please the crowd.
It’s very cool just about anywhere you sit, but for the perfect date, grab yourself a chair in the front courtyard order ‘dois Bingtags’ while you have fun fending off the man trying to sell you penis medicine. Or buy some and ensure you don’t have any issues after the date.
La Plancha | Seminyak Beach
This is where local knowledge is key; visit this beach bar on the wrong night and it’ll be empty and boring. Visit this beach bar on the right night and you’ll be greeted with bean bags scattered on the beach in all the colours of the rainbow, trippy beach furniture that changes colour and pumping tunes that sound out into the night’s sky.
La Plancha is the perfect place to sit back in a bean bag under an umbrella, while you sip a very cheap beer and watch the sun go down on another hot day in Bali. The view looking back at La Plancha is probably even better then the sunset with its kaleidoscope views. It’s pretty simple; if it’s a nice afternoon, get down in the late afternoon to secure a bag for the sunset and if it’s raining or looking to rain, give it a miss as they won’t put the bean bags out.
Just because it gets dark, the colours don’t go dull as every umbrella lights up and the cubed furniture your beer is on will magically rotate through colours so seamlessly you’ll swear you’ve had a milkshake from the place down the road. Some bars in Bali seem to be a little behind in music; however La Plancha’s resident DJ will literally play fresh music to your ears. And if you are lucky to time your trip well, they have a big party one night every month.
Whether you have downed a ‘milkshake’ from the neighbouring bar or whether you are just chilling out with a Bintang, La Plancha is one of those places you sit back and say ‘ahhh I love Bali’.
Breakfast with a view – La Lucciola | Seminyak
Best coffee in Bali – Anomali Cafe | Seminyak
Afternoon Cocktails – Potato Head | Kerobokan
Post dinner drink – Mantra | Seminyak
Worth the drive – Single Fin | Rock Bar | Padang Beach (Uluwato)
Best Sunset – Sunset on Seminyak (SOS) Rooftop | Seminyak