Ary's Warung, in Ubud, has always been an above average restaurant. Now, since a major redesign and menu upgrade, it has become an exceptional one.
The lower level is dominated by a very stylish bar setting, with minimal dining areas and what there is mainly used for luncheons. Upstairs is a spacious room, an open tree-lined veranda, which seems to catch whatever cooling breezes are present at the time.
Both the luncheon and dinner menus are designed around a multi-coursed tasting menu, served in small portions for you to taste, although any of the individual dishes can alternatively be ordered instead. In which case they then come in the size of normal portions.
The four course luncheon tasting menu costs Rp.130,000++, or Rp.160,000++ with a glass of wine. Whilst the six course dinner tasting menu is priced at Rp.190,000 or Rp.250,000 which includes two glasses of wine. Excellent value for what is to come! The dinner menu has two entrees [one seafood, the other not] and two mains [one seafood, the other meat], whilst the luncheon menu gives you one choice of each from a composite list.
Both menus start with a Vegetable Soup, floating with black rice bread croutons, thick and hearty. The only difference is that the evening soup has been chilled, and I must admit I prefer it that way.
The 1st entree [dinner] presents you with a difficult choice. Coconut King Prawn with sweet corn, black beans and an avocado suna cekah, a crunchy Lobster Wonton or a fantastic Tuna Parfait with caviar and wasabi cream. The Seared Sea Scallops are with asparagus and green beans whilst the Steamed Mussels are in white wine, shallots and chilli.
The 2nd entree is non-seafood and includes a Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Agnoletti in a spicy roroban broth, and a Sauteed Green Peppercorn Pate in a green papaya salad. Roasted Goat Cheese is combined with tomato in a kemangi terrine, with ginger. The Chicken in Pandanus Leaf is served with a Japanese cucumber urap, whilst the Caesar Salad is with seared sesame chicken and young mango. Although on one occasion I had a Carpaccio of Venison, that unique strong tasting meat that I love whilst recognizing that it is not everybody's favourite.
The luncheon menu has a reduced selection from a composite list of the dinner entrees. With either menu a sorbet is now served. On my visits it was a luscious mango sorbet that did the job of cleansing the taste buds, perfectly.
The 1st Main list starts with something I could not pass; Steamed Snapper with red chilli butter and black beans. It was absolutely perfect, the fish firm and fresh, the accompaniments adding to rather than detracting from the overall flavour. A piece of Grilled Salmon is with spinach gnocchi in a kaffir leaf broth. Jumbo River Prawns are sauteed with chilli, garlic and ginger. The Pan-seared Pomfret is in a coconut curry sauce and the Grilled Tuna comes in a salad of young papaya.
The 2nd Mains are all meat dishes although you can alternately order two selections from the 1st Mains instead if you wish to keep to seafood.
Top of the list is a showstopper: Roasted Quail with chickpeas in Balinese spices. The Quail has been de-boned for all except the leg [perfect], the meat tender and juicy, infused with flavour. A Marinated Pork Tenderloin is served with gingered sweet potatoes, the Rack of Lamb in a chilli mint sauce with a sweet potato rosti. The Chicken Breast has been stuffed with a mixture of ricotta and jackfruit. Roasted Veal Cutlets come drizzled with a wasabi butter.
Wow! The biggest problem at Ary's is deciding which of the mouth-watering combinations you wish to try! But if you think that was difficult then wait until you see the dessert selection!
A Rhubarb and Marscapone Cheese Tart heads the list. The Kaffir Lime Chocolate Fondant Flores Vanilla Ice Cream is a combination of tastes that are impossible to imagine, or describe. A Chocolate Ginger Kahlua Cream Tort is as dangerous as it sounds! Ary's own Coconut Custard Pie is always on the menu. The Sage and Maple Syrup Panna-Cotta with Hazelnut Praline and the Spiced Rujak Millefeuille, Tamarind Palm Sugar and Puff Pastry, are variations on the standard offerings.
The list continues! A Frozen Lemon Grass Parfait with pineapple salsa is very refreshing as is the Fresh Mixed Berries with Champagne Jellies.
Creme Brulee is a classic dessert, pleasant when done right, but it can also be quite insipid when not. Prior to my visit to Ary's the best, and most unusual Creme Brulee I had ever enjoyed was a Chilled Lime Brulee, but now move over all the rest. The Durian Brulee at Ary's is one of those great desserts. The flavour of the durian is anything but insipid, the topping of citrus segments just adding another dimension of taste, the toffee just perfect, thin but very crisp.
A Dessert Menu with imagination, now that is really something new for Bali!
The wine list at Ary's is, as is just about everything else at the place, quite exceptional. An excellent selection of mainly Australian and French wines, the Australian section is equal to, or even better than, what is available in many top Australian restaurants.
So many establishments in Bali profess to be fine dining experiences. Most get part of it right, but few get it all right! More often than not the food may excel but the service is so mundane, even objectionable, that the experience is as good as ruined.
My first impression of the new Ary's was that they had got it all right! Even the service is that rare combination of friendly yet professional and surprisingly knowledgeable as well. On a subsequent visit, I was not disappointed. We now have a new standard in Bali, for other restaurants to try and emulate or even surpass, if they can?
I am delighted to have discovered another must restaurant to visit for all of my future overseas visitors.
Ary's is now one of Bali's finest restaurants.