Candi Dasa has for many years been the regular weekend haunt of Ubud?s rich and famous. Saltwater, a little sand, and a quite peaceful escape without encountering the brashness that so often goes hand in hand with popular tourist locations. A little bit of style!
The Rama Candi Dasa hotel is an old one that has recently gone through a major upgrade and renovation. A part of that change was the setting up of Garpu restaurant under the careful eye of Patrick Chauchereau, ex chef of that popular French restaurant Lola.
It is a modern glassed-in restaurant with ocean views, Nusa Penida seemingly so close, and cruise ships moored off Padang Bai, just to the right. The restaurant space extends almost to the sea itself, encouraging relaxed and unhurried dining, as befitting a day at the seaside. The generous cocktail bar sits behind and above the eating area, another easy place to relax.
All this atmosphere would be wasted if the food was just ordinary. Never fear, the food at Garpu is alone worth the trip to Candi Dasa. This information should not be a surprise to any of Lola?s old customers. The menu is International in content but with a decided French influence, not only in the menu items but in the attention to detail of all the little things. Begin with the bread. One of my major complaints is that Western food should always have fresh bread served with it. Most places in Bali do not bother to serve bread at all, and when they do it is often not worth eating anyway. At Garpu the bread is baked on the premises, different breads for different meals. At lunch the French Baguettes are perfect! They come with that crunchy crust and soft filling, the only way to attack pates, or you can pretend you are French and dunk the slabs in the rich soups, or use to wipe up the leftover sauces.
There is an assortment of salads [Roasted Goat Cheese, Caesar with Grilled Pesto Chicken], Carpaccios [tuna or beef, tender and tasty], Snails [with garlic butter] or a Feuillete de Crevettes a la Americaine, sautéed shrimps served in a light puff pastry vol-au-vent, topped with a lobster sauce. Not the type of dish you expect to find in Candi Dasa, more likely to be found at the tables of exotic city restaurants.
This is class in the country!
Being an all day restaurant there are the usual offerings of sandwiches, pizzas, pasta and other snacks. Well I should not say usual as the sandwich bread and even the hamburger buns are as carefully produced as everything else, the fillings executed with precision.
Mains offer a wide variety of International and local dishes. Being a seaside restaurant there are Fish and Chips, of course, fresh fillets of fish in a super light batter. That wonderful local fish Mahi-Mahi is simply grilled so as not to spoil its tender flavour. A light lemon butter sauce added. Grouper in Papillote has been steamed in foil and served with basil butter. Prawns are sautéed then flambéed with garlic and tomato, Provencale style.
The Steak au Poivre is tenderloin, Rack of Lamb is with tarragon juice and the Baby Back Ribs are glazed with a tangy BBQ sauce, and like all sauces from this kitchen, full of taste. The Chickem Cocotte is something different, roasted with garlic potatoes, shallots and bacon.
Local mains include the standards; Ayam Kalasan [fried marinated chicken], Bebek Goreng [a half duck marinated with bumbu spices and fried till crisp] and Be Celeng Base Manis [pork simmered in sweet soy]. Be Siap Pelalah is a perfect luncheon dish, shredded chilli combined with chilli and lime, refreshingly different. Be Pasih Mebase Kuning combines different seafood braising it over a light, but spicy, coconut gravy.
Dessert time is French pastry time! The lightest puff pastry makes a perfect Profiterole, it is served with ice cream and a hot cocoa sauce. Fresh strawberries and rhubarb are combined in another super light puff pastry. What could be better than a simple Apple Tart, served hot. Crème Brulee and Crepes Suzette are also available at this amazing country restaurant.
The staff are so friendly and relaxed, that the mood rubs off on the diners. Gazing out over the water you will be so content that an extended stay can easily become a reality.
This quality, and at these reasonable prices, makes eating at Candi Dasa a pleasant surprise. Most menus have items constantly being changed, as new creations are introduced. A lucky sneak preview of a forthcoming menu change at Garpu included the most perfect Duck Terrine, tender slabs of duck meat in aspic, accompanied by a Duck Liver Mousse, a dry Cumberland sauce the perfect companion, as well as more chunks of that wonderful French bread.
Latest Visit: Chef Patrick Chauchereau is no longer at Garpu and sadly his high standards have not been maintained. Current offerings are no comparison to what was referred to in this review.