They used to call it 'Dining at The Ritz' but dining at Ayana [the ex Ritz Carlton] is on a different level again. Their French restaurant Dava is very fine dining but in a comfortable relaxed way. Current chef Singaporean Jusman So [ex the award winning Sage in Singapore] delivers what others before him had only promised.
The French cuisine at Dava has been tweaked a little by Jusman. Modern French with little touches borrowed from other cuisines is probably the best description, but very fine dining it is!
I am sick of turning over many pages in the typical Bali tourist restaurant menus, with supposedly dishes from 10 or more different national cuisines, an almost certainty that none are done properly. How wonderful it is to find a restaurant where the chef has enough self confidence in his product [and the establishment in him] to present a 'mini' menu, just four starters, two soups and six mains, followed by 4 desserts. Yet there is something there for everyone, in fact I had much difficulty in making choices, I am sure that many will opt for the safe and sensible option, the 6 course degustation.
The starters here are the 'same but different'. Yes there is a Carpaccio but this one uses shavings of Atlantic scallop, with almond cream, gruyere crisps, grapes, Aquitaine caviar and shaved bottarga [cured fish roe, borrowed from the Italians], as with most on this menu all the separate ingredients have a discernable taste of their own yet contribute to a total taste, perfect combinations There is also a Ceviche but with lobster [from Maine, USA] combined with a lobster gelee, tomato coulis, egg parfait and salmon roe.
You just want a simple salad? A pear poached in red wine combined with blue cheese ice cream and caramelized walnuts and balsamic fluid gel is about as simple as it goes at Dava where the food is all about taste! I have never had ice cream as an entrée before, a small ball sits on a round base of finely sliced pear, amazing! Foie Gras? Of course, and the way I like it as a terrine, this one in an aspic made with a riesling wine, with candied apples and an apple sorbet.
For soup a French classic, a rich Seafood Bisque. Alternatively a very unusual soup of Mushroon with shaved black truffles, chicken jus and coddled egg.
Selecting a main is a difficult task, all are so tempting. An organic Chicken Breast is cooked using the sous-vide method, it is accompanied by a honey-glazed confit chicken leg, orange parfait and a cranberry-mustard relish. The Lamb Loin is amongst the best I have ever had, roasted yet not ruined by overcooking, a sad Bali norm. It comes with a pistachio puree, preserved lemon, sauce vierge and goats milk feta with mint. The meat so tender the knife just slips through it, the taste perfect. The essential steak is a tenderloin cut from grain fed beef, with pine nuts, bacon fricassee, chestnut ragout, beetroot relish and brie mousse.
The seafood options are Black Cod [pictured], roasted with a prawn butter gratin and stuffed chonchiglie pasta ratatouille. The cod sits in an incredible sauce, a lemon basil emulsion, an amazing combination. They kindly provide a spoon for use with the remaining sauce. Top of the list is Lobster Tail 'au gratin', pumpkin and pistachio agnolotti, pineapple carpaccio and red beets.
The six course degustation presents a wonderful range of delicate tastes concentrating on seafood as befits this beachfront resort. A Ceviche of pink snapper is followed by Grilled Baby Calamari, a Corn Chowder soup studded with pieces of freshwater cray, the corn creamy but also full of diced kernels, and then tamarind flavoured Pork Belly and finally a dessert of Mangosteen Sago on cassava root.
Desserts are not always my thing but the Strawberry Frappe is the perfect finish to any meal. In the centre of the plate a mound of jellied rhubarb compote, sliced strawberries and pieces of crumbled pecan, the accompanying mini carafe of strawberry and champagne frappe is poured around the outside, refreshing and palate cleansing. Other options include a Valrhona Chocolate Fondant, Passion Fruit Mousse and a Butternut Pumpkin Crème Brulee [another amazing combination with candied sunflower seeds and spiced honey ice cream].
The price of the 6 course degustation is less than the cost of one main course at any leading restaurant in the cities of the world. I apologise for the use of so many superlatives but this really is fine dining.
All in all dining at Dava is an evening to remember and cherish.