Locavore has a buzz. People are talking. Some purring. Booked solid every day and not a stitch of advertising.
Situated down the small street that runs between Monkey Forest Road and Ubud’s other main thoroughfare, Jalan Hanoman, Locavore is discreetly positioned in size and style. After the weight of the humidity and traffic outside, the restaurant’s Dutch design, effortless modern décor, open-view kitchen and inviting entrance are a refreshing change.
Ray Adrainsnyah and Eelke Plasmeijer, the passionate owner-chefs behind the culinary excitement, took time out of their busy schedules to chat to inBali.
Working together as a team on the island for over six years, Ray and Eelke branched out on their own to form this new creative partnership just 11 months ago. Launching Locavore in Bali’s vibrant cultural heartland without the support of any marketing, the duo have elected to let the food speak for itself. And speak it does. Aesthetically beautiful, the textures, smells and tastes combine in imaginative and palate pleasing ways.
Locavore is not just about degustation. Much of their creative process comes from using only seasonal local ingredients. This way of working means that Ray and Eelke truly employ their imagination when creating their menus.
Local producers meet discriminating diners
Describing themselves as “the catalysts between local producers and discriminating diners”, their willingness to use a wide variety of local produce has created an interesting knock-on effect with the local farming community.
Normally growing homogenous crops to suit the average hotel and restaurant fare, with the strength and support of Locavore purchasing the weird and the unusual, farmers are now becoming educated in the possibilities of what they can take to market. This newfound confidence has seen a burst of experimentation with local growers and the revived spirit to trial interesting, diverse crops. It has also encouraged the development of organic and free-range farming practices.
The chefs at Locavore also place great emphasis on animal welfare and have a policy of no wastage.
“We respect when a life has been given. And so we use everything we can. This is our challenge as chef’s and as artisans,” Eelke explains.
“We respect when a life has been given. And so we use everything we can. This is our challenge as chefs and as artisans.”
Also unusual in a place like Bali, Locavore keeps a flat business structure. Ray and Eelke roll up their sleeves and work alongside their staff in all areas of the restaurant. Eelke describes the team as a family.
“We all eat together twice a week on a Wednesday and Saturday at 5pm, sharing wine and food before the start of the dinner sitting. We don’t mind if our guests who arrive early see us all eating together. They are happy to wait while we finish and can appreciate that we are like any other family who shares a meal, uninterrupted.”
Being so close-knit, they hire staff on their attitude and passion, rather than skills, drawing upon the family and friends of current staff to fill new positions.
And it works. The customer service and the ambience the team creates are exceptional.
The lunchtime Locavore Tasting Menu is made up of five exquisitely presented dishes, but at dinner you can challenge yourself by ramping that number up to nine. As the first plate arrives, one small taste leads to another, and the next thing you know, you’re a Locavore addict. This is contemporary European cuisine with a genuine twist. The use of fresh local ingredients, some even directly from Eelke’s own garden, make for bursts of flavour and colour that create a multi-dimensional and artistic dining experience.
Highlighting the lunch menu was the locally caught, home-cured, smoked mackerel with potato foam; the waiter explains that the seaweed accompaniment is from Bali’s island neighbour, Lombok.
The beetroot salad was also an immense treat to the taste buds. Featuring beets and leaves from the home garden, the humble root was made into a brightly coloured, savoury beetroot sorbet as well as a warm beet consommé.
I declined the desert. Patting my belly, I proclaimed I could not squeeze in a single drop more. My resolve was flatly ignored and in rolled a mango sorbet topped with coconut foam, grated white chocolate and tarragon meringue seated on cold black rice porridge. One last flavour sensation!
Despite my bursting waistline and the feeble protests, this particular guest was unable to stop herself from scraping every plate clean.
The best way to experience Locavore is the tasting plates where one can expect a choice of herbivore or carnivore menu options comprising of 3, 5, 7 or 9 courses at dinner and 5 courses at lunch. You can also choose from an excellent and ever-changing a la carte menu.
There is an excellent wine list at Locavore, comprising of exquisite international drops at very reasonable prices, an unusual find in the mountains of Ubud. Decadent drinkers can opt to order their tasting menus with drink pairings for complete ease and enjoyment.
What’s in the pipeline for Locavore?
Ubudians can look forward to a new local delicatessen and eatery boasting everything homemade; delicious breads, pates, smoked chickens and plenty more. Some of the salad ingredients will even come from the chefs’ own backyard vegetable garden. The new project will only be open for breakfast and lunch, where we can no doubt expect to enjoy a sublime coffee, masterfully crafted sandwich and a few more tasting platters.
The new location will also host a second kitchen to the current premises, allowing the chefs to spread their wings, creating more dishes and having room to incorporate more techniques and cooking methods.
Ray and Ellke clearly cook for the love of the art. The passion and focus is evident in Eelke’s eyes and his words. Part of the Secret Retreats highly recommended Secret Tables collection, Locavore is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner sittings. With just 36 seats available and a policy of never rushing their guests, it is wise to book ahead. Only if you are very lucky will there be two sittings in a night.
The team at Locavore like to keep things small and intimate. Without a shred of pretense, this is cuisine from the heart.
Address: Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud 80571, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: +62 361 977733
Opening time: Mon-Sat: 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-23.00. Closed on Sundays and Mondays for lunch.
Closed: 24 December and 1 January
Credit Cards accepted: Visa, MasterCard