Delicious delicacies in an out-of-this-world paradise
by : Elisa Detrez and photography by Maxime Coquard | Date : November 20, 2014
The day we decided to go to Hanging Gardens, let’s be honest, it was mostly for its pool, the one and only 2 floor piece of contemporary art plunging into the balinese jungle. The one we saw so many pictures of! We were not disappointed of the show when we finally stood next to it. We were already amazed by that and wanted to make the most of it!
But the real surprise of our stay at Hanging Gardens happened actually somewhere we didn’t really think…In the restaurant.
The food is a fine and subtle mix of Western and Indonesian cuisine. It’s a delight, thanks to Adriano Ricco, the Brazilian chef who made his class with award winning chef Alex Atala before moving to the States for almost eleven years developing menus and culinary concepts and being awarded twice by Best Chefs America. We could just be impressed by his background and get excited about the coming dinner.
Comfortably installed in the heart of the jungle, we opted for the tasting dinner A perfect way to discover his cuisine. The dishes arrived one after the other, like a veritable farandole of flavours, colours and textures. Adriano likes to play with the ingredients, it’s all about contrast and balance! Since he moved to Indonesia, he has mastered new key ingredients such as ginger, coconut and jack fruits to create exquisite recipes. At Hanging Gardens, the traditional Indonesian food is revisited, always reinvented and it’s never boring. We appreciate the style in the plates, a real art of presentation because you eat first with your eyes.
The Gado-gado we had as amuse-bouche was brought to the next level and we hardly recognised the dish we had a few days ago in the south of the island. The tuna tartare was heavenly good and also our absolute favourite this evening, even if we also enjoyed a lot the duck confit ragout with the fresh basil. The most surprising was the Caipirinha sorbet with tapioca and tulsi, a instant refreshing shooter! Excellent. Savour old Amsterdam premium aged cheese (18 months) in Bali was also a rare pleasure!
The products are fresh and sourced locally if not directly grown in the on-site veggie patch. Adriano gave us a tour of his “secret garden”: basil, rosemary, turmeric, stavia, mint, oregano…an aromatic heaven for any food lover. All the herbs are used in a sustainable way, just the strictly necessary is picked up for a dish, no waste to make sure there is always plenty when needed.
Banana, passion fruit, avocado, coffee are just some of the ingredients grown on the estate, providing the guests with the best quality. I couldn’t resist to the fresh juices and cocktails on the menu! Banana Fusion was a perfection.
Every day, a complimentary afternoon tea is served in the pure balinese tradition. As our first time in Bali, we enjoyed discovering typical recipes such as the sweet potato cake or the vegetables spring rolls. Sitting at the Café, we could hear the flowing rapids of the Ayung river, it felt so relaxing and serene!
The amazing thing about Hanging Gardens is that you can express yourself! Don’t stick to the menu if you don’t feel like it. Indeed, after a long dinner, my stomach just felt like a light & healthy option for the next day lunch. I mentioned it to the team at the restaurant and this was not a problem at all, half an hour later, I could enjoy a tomato, cucumber, avocado mousseline with quinoa and soy citrus, very yummy. Bali is a hot place and I struggle with the heat so when they served me that juicy watermelon, cherry tomatoes with feta and basil salad, I could not be more happy and refreshed! As for Max, he was delighted with his balinese style pork ribs served with a traditional dish, the srombotan seasoned divinely with a basa gaede glaze. There is something for every palate!
Being French, we can’t imagine a meal without a nice sweet touch to finish. Adriano got that and prepared us a passion fruit soufflé served with its passion fruit sorbet and fresh strawberries: succulent and just perfect for the day!
The food is like the view, world class
We really appreciate this whole philosophy in the kitchen, they don’t tell you what you have to eat, the menu and the waiters are here to guide you of course, but changes can be made on demand. They are all very accommodating. Personalised service and feeling special is at the end what a 5 star hotel is about, isn’t it?