An Argentine Grillery!

Batu Bara is different! It qualifies to be referred to as a steakhouse but this small hard to find garden restaurant is like no other! No doubt it is the only restaurant in Bali where the owner serves on table, and even entertains, singing as he works.

Whilst cutting his teeth on the Ubud food scene at the Spanish Tapas bar on Monkey Forest Road, Argentine Pablo is now doing his own thing, and doing it very well!

The actual restaurant building is so small that it only houses the kitchen and a couple of tables. The outdoor garden has been covered and that is where most of the eating, and laughter, takes place. It is a battleaxe block with a minimal road frontage to Raya Pengosekan. It is just metres before the access to parking for the Café Arma.

Food of the Argentine naturally owes much to Spanish cuisine as a base, except when it comes to their steak preparation and presentation.

Very Spanish are the Empanadas and they are a perfect starter. A plate of crisp, flaky, shell shaped pastries stuffed with either; corn and cheese [empanada de humita] or minced beef [empanada de carne]. It is very easy to over indulge as they are so good. On a hot night a bowl of chilled Gazpacho is very welcome, a cold tomato soup made with extra virgin olive oil and studded with raw crunchy vegetables. Croquetas with a chicken filling are another hot pastry worth trying, in fact you could easily dine here just on the entrees and be satisfied.

A dish available at just about every Spanish restaurant in the world is Gambas al Ajillo, prawns in a hot garlic-laced olive oil. At Batu Bara slabs of wood-fired bread is provided for the inevitable dipping. The small wood-fired oven is located at the front corner of the garden eating area.

I like my vegetables but there are a few that leave me unimpressed. Bottom of the list is bok choy and squash but not far above them is eggplant, a vegetable that features on so many Bali ‘international’ menus. This one was so different that I just had to try, what I did not expect was to like it that much that I was tempted to order a 2nd serving. The whole eggplant is served wood-smoked. The body of it having been mashed with paprika oil, feta cheese and Thai basil, just the small stalk left as original. I have been eating in restaurants of the world for so many years but am still constantly amazed at being able to discover new and exciting things to feast on. Often they are so simple, and come from very basic peasant or village food, recipes centuries old.

Now to the mains, which is the reason most people come to eat at Batu Bara. I was once told by a famous restaurateur that the secret of operating a great restaurant is to understand that dining is theatre! Over the years I have seen many examples of that creed in practice. Memories of a Greek restaurant in Brussels where as one song regularly began on the juke box all service stopped as the owner and waiters wove a crocodile line between the tables in that Greek dance made famous by Zorba.

At Batu Bara it is the method of serving the steaks. The daily options are displayed on the board but they usually include Tenderloin and Rib-Eye. The steaks are prepared in the kitchen and arrive at your table, medium rare. The waiter, more often than not Pablo the owner, places a small serving table beside yours, on top is a small grid-topped pan of burning embers. The steak is then hand sliced and the pieces places on the grid for you to complete the cooking process for your steak so it is cooked as you desire.

The owner is then more than likely to burst into song as he progresses to another table. An alternate to steak is the Pork Shoulder, also prepared and served in the same manner. The mains are served plain and simple; you order the side dishes you prefer. Grilled vegetables, the Fries are skin-on wedges style but the winner is the Potato Parmentier, mashed with butter, cream and truffle.

Whilst the wine list is quite small it is totally adequate for a restaurant of this type. However the real authentic Spanish Sangria is what most customers appear to order and enjoy.Steakhouses have been the 2017 thing for Bali. This one is completely different!



Restaurant                   : Batu Bara

Address                        : Jln. Pengosekan 108, Ubud.

Telephone                    : 0812.3937.7639

Open                             : Dinner from 6.00 p.m., daily.

Non-smoking Area     : Yes.

Smoking Area              : Yes.

Parking                        : Street only.

Price                             : Rp. 500.000 for two [+ drinks].

Credit Cards               : Visa, Mastercard.

Food                            : Argentine.

Wine                            : Small list

Service                        : Very hands-on from Pablo, the owner.

Atmosphere              : A garden eatery.

Overall                        : Something completely different.


Copyright © 2018 Gerry Williams

Reviews that appear in Bali Advertiser are based on actual visits to the establishments listed, without the knowledge of the restaurants, and are not paid for by the individual restaurants.

Opinions expressed here are those of Gerry Williams and not necessarily those of Bali Advertiser. Gerry Williams attempts to write from a ‘typical’ diner’s perspective and, whilst quality of food is the most important criteria overall, value for money is the real measuring stick.