GROW is different. Ever since first reading their menu I have been eager to try the actual food. Sometimes menus that read well are disappointing on the plate, whilst others that seem so boring amaze you with their taste!
The GROW menu fascinated me at first glance and certainly did not disappoint when it came to tasting time! The food is innovative, original and most importantly so different for Bali. No doubt many of the dishes have been well road tested over the years at chef's Tippling Club in Singapore.
Rillettes of Confit Duck and Cashew Nuts are a great starter. The shredded meat is served in a small stainless steel pan, on the side a row of crunchy toast slices and strips of pickled vegetables. Already you could terminate the meal here, and just keep on eating slice after slice.
If you normally offered me a dish that had popcorn as an ingredient, I would say 'thanks, but no thanks!'. But already trusting English Chef Ryan Clift and full of curiosity I went for it. Confit of Scallops with toasted corn, corn puree, basil jelly and curried popcorn. So many different ingredients yet the result was just one total taste, without one thing overpowering the other, the measuring stick for great chefs. Scattered across the top of this dish were a combination of fresh and deep-fried basil leaves, adding yet another dimension.
There is a Carpaccio of Tuna, the slices topped with a puree of avocado, pickled daikon and crisp nori. Very refreshing is the Crab Meat Salad, tossed with granny smith apple, lemon and pea puree, pea shoots and baby gem lettuce infused with mint vinegar. Soups can be a hearty Leek and Potato with braised celery root and parsley crackers or Watercress and Kale which comes with a soft poached egg and toast strips for dunking.
There are just three pasta options but all are quite exceptional. The pasta is made, daily, in the kitchen. The Rigatoni is enhanced with small chunks and strips of strongly smoked bacon and slices of blue foot mushroom, then topped with a sauce of that strong English stilton cheese blended with a balsamic reduction. Full of flavour! The other pastas are Fusilli, served with crab meat in a Thai curry sauce, and Strozzapreti, that unusual spirally tube pasta that chef combines with an oxtail ragout that has been braised for 48 hours and topped with parmesan wafers and sprigs of thyme.
The Beef Cheek has been braised, so it is soft and easy to shred. It is served with a liberal coating of beetroot infused quinoa and quarters of lightly roasted baby beets. Chicken Thighs [more taste than breast meat] are prepared confit as in good French tradition, served with green peas, mint, bacon pieces and lettuce. Pork Belly comes with a spicy pumpkin puree, a braised mix if grapes and walnuts, all drizzled with a masala jus.
Seafood is what many expect to enjoy in Bali, sadly too often a disappointment. Just three options here and all are a bit special. The simplest is the Roasted Barramundi with a puree of smoked eggplant, and cucumber raita spaghetti. Or you can have Red Snapper, with cauliflower couscous, pickled cauliflower and masala jus.
The most sensational dish for me was the Grouper. The fish perfectly pan fried, not overcooked as is a local norm, is covered with quite a strong pea and green curry sauce with compressed celery and puffed rice. The complete dish is then encased in an emulsion [foam] flavoured with Thai's Tom Kha [coconut milk and galangal]. A feast of flavour, an incredibly complex dish but, once again, perfectly balanced.
Desserts are less adventurous but still great value. The Basil and Lemon Tart uses a crisp basil shortbread base with vanilla ice cream on top. The essential chocolate offering is a Fudge Cake, served warm with chocolate ice cream. Roast Mango is with coconut sago, coconut sorbet and fresh coriander.
As the restaurant is a part of the L Hotel, they also offer a breakfast every day [from 7.00 a.m.]. This is also very different form the usual. Poached Eggs are with sun-dried tomato, polenta, grilled chorizo, pickled courgette, smoked paprika and garlic aioli. Destroyed Avocado is served with a slow cooked egg, chilli, tomato and coriander. The Omelette is oven-baked, with asparagus and a dill and tarragon mornay sauce. Even the Eggs Benedict get a makeover, this time Indian style. Soft poached eggs sit on a cucumber riata with spiced tomato and spinach salsa. The hollandaise sauce is flavoured with a Madras curry.
So for a breakfast with a difference, GROW is also well worth a try!
The restaurant is still in its development phase [as they say here; 'soft opening'], and a few menu changes and or additions are likely over the next few months. However the initial menu tells you all you need to know, GROW is a great addition to the Bali dining scene, and most importantly offers something completely different!