Sardine, Bali

I've never really liked sardines. Well, with my limited experience with its canned version anyway. So, it was with apprehension that I visited Sardine, another notable restaurant in hip Seminyak.

It's easy to guess, from its namesake, that this restaurant serves seafood, and in no particular deference to sardines. The seafood was indeed fresh, and walking in, you'd spot the fishtanks choc-a-bloc with the live version of dinner. Just think of this as the upmarket, more refined version of the seafood shacks at Jimbaran.

Service was uneven; the front-of-house took her door bitch role way too seriously, but the blonde manager and bartender radiated genuine warmth.

Reservations are highly recommended at the small-ish restaurant, but unlike Sarong, Metis and Ku De Ta, Sardine doesn't accept reservations by email, nor does it have an online booking system. Reservations are only taken over the phone, and you'd need to call them to re-confirm your reservation. I guess too many guests have been a no-show way too many times? Oh well. I did see a brazen tourist bullshit her way in though, so I suppose you could turn up right when the restaurant opens, allege that you could not call through the restaurant's "always-busy" line at all, and hissy-fit into getting a table.

The Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio (Rp110,000/S$11.60), dressed with rucola, baby tomatoes, radish, capers and extra virgin olive oil, was balanced and light.

The Lobster Pot Stickers (Rp110,000/S$11.60) chunked up with shitake for maximum juiciness, was sided by a ginger-black vinegar dipping sauce.

One of the highlights of Sardine, the Lobster (Rp882,000/S$93 for 490grams), sparkling fresh out of the tank, was grilled over coffee firewood for a heady char and served alongside bedugul vegetables. It's a pretty penny but its exquisitely sweet flesh was worth every penny.

The lobster was so sweet on its own that it rendered the accompanying duo of sauces, a mild tangy chilli, and a creamy bean yoghurt, redundant.

To fill you up, a fragrant brown-and-pandan rice mix sided the lobster.

The Sauteed Kingfish (Rp200,000/S$21), saddled on a bed of sunny saffron risotto laced with spinach, radicchio and parmesan, and lightly drizzled with an arugula-lemon coulis, was insanely delicious. I loved the beautiful golden char shaded on the flaky fish fillets.

The Amuse Bouche of sardine sliver dressed in grilled peppers and a dash of olive oil was quite scrumptious.

Sardine is very generous with their alcohol, and their cocktails packed a wollop. Recommended blends are the Arak Madu (Rp80,000/S$8.40), centered around the Indonesian spirit Arak, shaken with honey, fresh lime and nutmeg, and the Raspberry Mojito (Rp110,000/S$11.60), Havana Club rum crushed with fresh raspberries, lime, mint, syrup and soda.

The complimentary cheesesticks and bread, piping hot and soft, were instrumental in quelling hunger pangs and soaking up the cocktails.

The rustic-chic restaurant, with light wicker, crisp white linens and lime green accents.

The restaurant opens out into the paddy field view with some mountain in the backdrop.


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