Over the years, very few people have been for a day trip to Ubud without having had lunch at Café Lotus. It is a real icon!
The Café Lotus was the trail blazer for this very successful chain of tourist restaurants. At Lotus they try to provide something for just about everybody, in pleasant surroundings, and at a reasonable cost. Furthermore, they succeed! No wonder they have been so successful.
Café Lotus almost surrounds an enormous lotus pond. In the background is the impressive golden palace temple. At certain times of the day, a gamelan plays in the small raised wantilan, across the water. In this perfect setting it is not very difficult to relax and enjoy a snack or a meal.
It is a large menu, with many choices for everybody. As well as the standard Lotus menu, there are separate sheets of daily specials for lunch, and for dinner. Salads are very varied. The more common are the Greek, Organic House, Tomato and fresh Basil, and Seafood. There are also two very interesting salads: the Avocado Michelangelo [consisting of avocado segments wrapped in Parma-style cured], and an Epicurean Salad [air-cured Parma-style ham, rocket and marinated capsicums, with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Parmesan shavings].
Soups include the more mundane, Creams of Mushroom or Asparagus. Or there is an Indonesian Soto Ayam [chicken soup with rice noodles, egg, tomato, bean sprouts, potato and spices] a Thai Tom Yam Goong [prawns, lemon grass and mushrooms in a hot and sour broth] and an icy cold Gazpacho. Other combinations may be found on special, such as the wonderful Lentil and Shitake Soup or a chilled Prawn and Cucumber Soup.
The Indonesian Spring Rolls are stuffed with shredded chicken and vegetables and served with peanut and sweet & sour sauces. The crunchy Indian Samosas can be had with cheese, spinach or vegetable fillings, and a yoghurt sauce or the traditional chutney. The Pate is from duck livers served the traditional way, with toast. Chicken Winglets are Cajun-style, and very tasty. Golden Champignons are crumbed then deep-fried, and served with a sauce tartar. A Seafood Terrine is a mix of tuna, tenggiri and prawn, with chervil and dill, in a sweet red pepper and tomato coulis. Shrimps and Feta is a casserole of prawns, shrimps, feta cheese and tomato, flavoured with oregano, garlic and olive oil.
The Green fettuccine is made from spinach and is served Napoletana style [tomato and basil]. The Red, from red peppers, is a Pesto [basil, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and garlic]. White fettuccine is served with Balinese Smoked Duck. The Ravioli is stuffed with fresh seafood, and served in a light curry sauce, with prawns and leek.
The Lasagna is totally vegetarian. In fact there are many pure vegetarian dishes available at all Lotus outlets. For lunch you can have a Raw Vegetable Salad [a medley of shredded carrot, tomato, cabbage, cucumber, bean and alfalfa sprouts] served with either a mustard or yoghurt dressing and crostini.
Indonesian Mains include a Chicken curry that has been simmered in coconut milk, ginger and spices. The Chicken Sate comes with that tangy peanut sauce.
Balinese style dishes abound. Be-Pasih Goa Lawah is fillets of fish that have been marinated in a paste of turmeric, lemon grass, ginger, tamarind, garlic, shallots, chilli, lime leaf and kaffir lime, then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. The wonderful Balinese speciality, Bebek Betutu, is available at all Lotus restaurants. Smoked duck, stuffed with herbs and wrapped in banana leaves, that has been cooked underground for a slow 24 hours. The other duck dish at Café Lotus is that Ubud specialty, Crispy Duck, very crunchy!
Babi Bagus [grilled basil & garlic marinated pork cutlets] are served with fresh champignons, and mashed potatoes. An Ayam Bagus [chicken] is also available. Ayam Bumbu Bali is a half chicken cooked with herbs and spices.
The Five Spice Lamb Kebabs [grilled marinated lamb with a couscous tabouli, and dips] are very popular, but I prefer the Gourmet Brochettes [two each of the five-spiced lamb, chicken and pork] served on a crown of papaya, with a mushroom risotto, peanut sauce and a garlic and cucumber dip.
The seafood selection is also quite extensive. The Tuna Curry is Indian in style [Madras] and there is a Red Curry of Prawn, Shrimp and Calamari [a quite delicate curry of red chilli, lemon grass, coriander, cumin, sweet paprika and coconut milk]. Tuna Steak can be had in either Green Peppercorn or Dijon Mustard sauces. The Fisherman?s dream is a pasta seafood special of marinated grilled prawns, tuna, tenggiri and fettuccine. Freshwater Prawns are served tempura style, with a relish of leek, bell peppers, onion, coriander, soy and oyster sauces.
There is always a selection of special set menus at Café Lotus. Their value is quite amazing! The mini Rijstafel [Rp. 108,000 for two persons] is a mix of Balinese and Indonesian specials [smoked duck, roast chicken, grilled prawns, pork sate, Balinese vegetables and yellow rice]. Others range from Rp.60,000 ? 87,500 per person for three courses.
The wine list is small but adequate and very reasonably priced The far-sighted management at Lotus restaurants permit customers to bring their own bottles [provided that particular Lotus does not stock that wine], for a very modest corkage charge of Rp. 50,000 per bottle.
Rest, relax and enjoy in the peaceful tranquility of the lotus ponds.
A slight change in management direction sees Cafe Lotus retaining the basis of the Lotus menu but with many more unique specials.
For lunch a Lamb Burger [minced lamb with paprika, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, coriander and mint] or the Grazer's Pleasure, an interesting array of Mediterranean mini dishes.
For dinner, a Smoked Duck Risotto [bebek betutu with arborio rice] or Butterfish Fillets [on a couscous tabouli with caper sauce].
New dishes are constantly being added, either permanently or as daily specials, whilst others are removed. However the above text describes the style, quality and value of whatever is on the menu at Cafe Lotus.