[BALI Eats] Artotel Beach Club bring Cool Tropical Vibes to Sanur

Away from the havoc and maniac of the party-region Kuta and the increasingly health conscious, acai bowl ardent areas of Seminyak and Canggu lays the seemingly more mellow, Sanur. Known for its central location and manageable wave action, this seaside village has been dubbed most family-friendly by Bali travellers. A quality that's further affirmed by its 25-minutes driving distance from International airport of Ngurah Rai.

On my recent trip to Bali, I had the privilege of stopping over for one night at Artotel Sanur Bali before my red-eye flight back to Singapore the very next day. And boy was I elated about the proximity to the airport. That and the flexibility of the staff in helping us pack our 'breakfast-inclusive' of Nasi Goreng ready for our 4 am journey,  this certainly made for outstanding service brownie points.

But before we return to the comforts of the tastefully decorated Artotel, let's talk about the newly opened Artotel Beach Club (ABC) that has brought an air of briskness to the sleepy beach side town. If you're used to the eclectic mix of businesses in Sanur, Artotel Beach Club's bold splashes of color across its 7000 sqm beach side oasis is a perfect fit. It's peachy vibes spilling across luscious lawns with the occasional cabana and its two storey bamboo clad restaurant.

When I think beach club, the menu items such as Beef Burger and Club Sandwich come to mind.  Mediocre fillings between pale white bread stacked up high to evoke abundance is the game of the day at the usual; these usually making for insipid bites between sips of that poorly constructed pina colada which is the only drink that isn't dyed a horrendous shade of blue.

Before you jump to that conclusion, I'm going to put it out there. Artotel Beach Club's food far surpasses the failed romanticism of beach side fare, in fact, it's so good that I'm reluctant to trumpet the place any more than necessary seeing that places like these that offer up stellar casual dining fare, are far and few between.

For starters, the pizzas here are given the wood-fire treatment - imparting a unique smoky flavor to its toppings. The Feta and Pumpkin (115k IDR) pizza was an unsuspecting win and despite my adversity towards vegetables, this was a match made in heaven. It was a perfect combination of chewy dough, blistered crusts and toppings ranging from Napoli sauce to wilted kale, feta cheese, roasted pumpkin and button mushrooms. Cooked in spells of high heat till they surrender their vitality to the final amalgamation. It's almost... spellbinding. Mind my melodramaticism, but when you're faced with a pizza that good, all whilst harbouring the worse of expectations, this happens.

Belgian born Executive Chef Manuel Effendi's mantra about freshness and consistency, is the key to the successful menu here at Artotel Beach Club. It displays no airs, no pretences, but at the same time, takes advantage of the fresh produce and exotic fruits available from the land - that's clever. Furthermore, it's kept 'international' enough to be recognisable by the beach-going folk, yet executed with chef-like impulses for the best results. 

Braised for hours on end till they surrender their ornery stiffness, Pork Ribs (135k IDR for 400g) are then grilled till that sweet marinade catches a beautiful char. It's a very impressive version of a ubiquitous dish that doesn't leave unwanted meaty shreds caught in between your teeth. The inherent flavor a good balance of sweet and salty, so addictive that you'll wallop the whole slab nude, save for some bites of coleslaw to mix it up a little.

Chef Manuel exhibits his flair of clean cooking in the next dish of Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna (115k IDR). A dish designed to make you feel pleasantly sated yet not too full to not fit into that designer swimsuit, you've been saving up for all winter. It's watercolour palette does half the work. Fresh slabs of tuna tataki is interspersed with sugar snaps, tomato, watermelon and mango cubes, pickled daikon for acidity and black sesame cracker. 

Not to be relegated to a back seat is the cocktail menu. The Tanned and Stormy (145k IDR) is the drink you'll crave for by the beach, it's an umami bomb of flavor that's perfect for washing down a slice of that pizza action you're embracing. I'll go as far to say that it may just be the most balanced cocktail I've ever had in Bali, with its rummed up ginger coolant roots laced with red wine reduction for a tart edge. But the real cherry on the cake was the #IAMNOTPLASTIC straw employed in the beverage. Made by a social enterprise Avani Eco based in Bali itself, these straws, alongside many other commonplace items like carrier bags are made from completely organic, biodegradable products. Started out as a mission to tackle the plastic plague worsened by bustling tourism, it's heartening to see these efforts embraced by other businesses! Back to the alcoholic tipples, the localised Gin and Tonic features pomelo and kaffir lime leaf in the Jeruk Bali (135k IDR) - refreshing with hints of bitterness to enliven the palate.

The bar runs some specials throughout the week with a buy-one-get-one-free promotion every night from 8 - 10pm and Tiki Thursday where there's a similar promotion on Tiki cocktails from 2 - 6pm at the Wai Tiki Pool Bar. More reason to get your tan!

In our interview with Belgium borned Chef Manuel Effendi, we got to better understand the culinary maverick in charge of the tantalising menu at Artotel Beach Club.
  • Hi Chef Manuel. You describe your menu as 'Tropical Comfort Cuisine', care to explain what that entails?
I decided to call our cuisine 'Tropical' because of the island environment and its products. 'Comfort' because I believe that we need to seek dishes that provide comfort and that's familiar to the taste for both the local community and our international guests.

  • Prior to working in Bali, when did you first embark on your culinary journey?
I first came in contact with the heat of the kitchen at a young age in Jakarta where my family heritance have local food stalls, Ikan Bakar Babe H Lili, to be exact. That's when I first got fascinated with the energy of the kitchen.

When I got older, I grew a rebellious streak, skipped football practise and my dad decided then that it was better for me to earn my own income. I ended up in a French Brasserie in Belgium as a dishwasher for a week. Thankfully for me, my chef back then recognised a potential in me and decided to put me at the cold section. Quickly, I picked up a fascination for the kitchen and since then I've pushed myself to the position that I am.

  • Why did you move to Bali?
I came back to Bali initially to take a break from Antwerp City and met my partner Emilia. We picked up right where we left off a goo 7 years ago in Jakarta, and she introduced me to Will Meryick. I had the honour of working with his team and that provided the ticket for me to venture out of Belgium in search of another culinary journey.

  • Was it a large culture shock for you, moving from Belgium to Southeast Asia?
I honestly never encountered a culture shock when I moved since my dad is Indonesian and he has always exposed us to the life in Jakarta in my younger days. In fact, we would often visit Indonesia or holidays when I was a teenager. Hence, it felt natural for me to be back in this environment.

  • Which Balinese ingredient do you seek the most inspiration from? How would you use that in a dish?
There are tons of ingredients that I gain inspiration from. Mostly because its impossible to get your hands on these in Europe. For starters, there is Pandan leaves -  I adore the fragrance they impart to desserts. Then there is Daun Jerek (lime leaves) which are great in desserts, vegetable dishes and sambals. Bunga Bongkot (ginger flower) which I adore for its spicy and strong fragrance of ginger, it marries well with seafood. Lastly there's Merica Andalima (andalima pepper), the fruity and yet tangy and peppery taste of the product is to die for. I would have it pickled in sauces or crushed with some silky white fish.

  • Describe yourself in three words.
Goal drive. Competitive. Humble.

  • What does one have to take in mind when creating a menu for a beach club? What are some of the challenges when faced with a customer base that hails from all over the world?
As a family valued beach club, we feel that keeping the balance of familiar comfort cuisine and local cuisine is a must to satisfy everybody. However, the real challenge was the need to translate the menu such that it conveyed my personality in it.

  • What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?
I'm not much of a drinker but I am a fan of a speakeasy cocktail concept. But I definitely find it hard to refuse a mai thai or a good negroni.

  • Since moving to Bali, what is your favourite local dish and where would you recommend guests to go get their fix?
I have several local warungs I like to get my Indonesian home cooking cravings fixed, such as dapur sanur, Ibu oka, Sunda Kelapa. But I don't have a specific dish that I crave. I love all of them, especially when its home cooked with love, the way my aunties would.

Besides the very delectable meal we enjoyed at its beach club, Artotel Sanur Bali was the perfect oasis for trendy travellers on a budget. Despite its affordable pricing structure, you'll be pleased to see that the establishment has committed a serious decorating budget to both the common areas and living spaces alike. First impression wise, the architecture of the hotel is very whimsical and trendy, not dissimilar to a lot of exorbitantly priced boutique hotels in Singapore. Art lovers will be delighted to know the hotel works with several Bali-based contemporary artists, using the lobby space as a canvas to showcase theses art pieces.

Cleverly tucked into the spaces between the colossal staircase, are special reading corners, the in-house restaurant Roca and even a infinity pool on the rooftop, equipped with comfy sun-beds.

Our basic room, the Studio 30 Double was priced at an affable 855k IDR a night, equivalent to approximately S$82. A steal for an all encompassing experience that won't have you feeling like a big deal, but invigorated enough to feel the urge to step out and soak in the spirit of the seaside village. In which case, I would highly recommend the half-hour stroll to Sindhu night market, the popular spot that is the home to at least a dozen food carts selling everything from Nasi Campur to satay and Noodles soup.  Just take a look below at my food find!

Definitely a place I would recommend for a no-frills staycation in Bali.

Artotel Beach Club
Jl. Danau Tamblingan No. 35
Denpasar Sel

Operating Hours:
Daily: 8am -10pm
Make your reservations here

Artotel Sanur Bali
Jl. Kusuma Sari No. 1
Sanur, Denpasar Sel
Make your reservations here

Fundamentally Flawed stayed and dined at Artotel Sanur Bali and Artotel Beach Club as an invited guests. All views and opinions however remain strictly her own.

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