It’s one of Bali’s most developed, built-for-tourism areas, well past its heyday, and chock-full of Bintang-singlet-wearing Aussies on their way to nightclubs and cheap souvenir shops. Yes, we’re talking about Legian. Those of us who live here usually see it as teeming with tackiness.
Yet, the hood happens to be home to one of Bali’s highest-rated fine dining restaurants, the Plantation Grill at the Double Six Luxury Hotel.
Touted for its premium dry-aged steaks, line-caught, sustainably-fished seafood, comprehensive wine list, and ornate interiors, Plantation has been one of those restaurants that we couldn’t help but wonder whether it lived up to the hype. A recent invite from their PR team to review the restaurant was the perfect opportunity to find out.
Plantation opened in December 2014, some months after the hotel made its debut, by Australian restauranteur Robert Marchetti (who has had his ups and downs, but that’s a whole other story).
It’s a themed restaurant, set in the prohibition era of the 1920s, or as their PR people like to put it, Plantation is “Ernest Hemingway meets Jay Gatsby”. Contrary to its name, the theme has nothing to do with cotton, tobacco or any other crops — so we feel like “Plantation” is a bit of a misnomer.
Nomenclature aside, one of our big questions going in was whether Plantation would just be another stop on the Double Six-bogan (the Australian version of a redneck) train, given its Legian address. Plus, themed places can get kitschy fast.
Yet, as we made our way past the hotel lobby, up the elevator and into the restaurant on the fourth floor, we were hit with the feeling that Jay Gatsby would feel right at home. The restaurant is grandiose AF. We’re talking high vaulted ceilings with a winding staircase, huge glass windows, mahogany wall panels, marble finishes, plush leather booths, and an ocean view. Major rich people vibes.
Adding to the luxury and the scene-setting was the solo jazz saxophonist, taking us back to another era with his swinging melodies (the soloist is on rotation on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, while there’s a soprano opera singer on Wednesday and Saturdays from 8-10pm).
Maitre D’ Nigel Johnson in his perfectly-pressed white jacket was on point, as was the rest of the staff under his command — the spectacled man runs a tight ship. Wait staff attentiveness was full force, while Johnson was constantly circulating the room, chatting up guests, seeing if everything was alright, and telling fun anecdotes.
“One guest told us our Waldorf Salad is better than the one he had at the actual Waldorf in New York,” Johnson told us.
“It was a random guest. He probably just wanted to name-drop that he’d been there but we’ll take the compliment,” Johnson added, when we pressed him for more information.
We haven’t had the salad in New York, but for us, this restaurant’s Waldorf Salad (IDR90k/US$6.19) was a highlight in its freshness and simplicity: the light, crispy apples, celery, and chayotte, along with the sweetness of the candied nuts and tartness of the yoghurt dressing.
Besides Johnson, another man who spent a decent amount of time bouncing between tables was in-house sommelier, Menno Verhaar. He started us out with a crisp, cold glass of Allegrini Prosecco Millesimato (IDR130k/US$8.94 a glass) that was nice and dry. We probably would have been content to drink the prosecco all night, but given the place’s extensive wine list, we knew we’d have to expand our horizons.
While we would’ve thought the focus at a Gatsby-themed restaurant would be on liquor and Plantation does have its speakeasy bar, Sling, on the second floor, the wine selection is one of Plantation’s biggest bragging rights. The wine list has over 250 bottles from around the world — especially noteworthy for oenophiles in Indonesia, where choices can be quite restrictive.
For guests not sure where to even begin with that Bible-of-a-wine-list, Verhaar is fast available with recommendations, pairing with your dinner order and in our case, going along with our preferences. We like our dry reds, Cabarnet and Merlot, we told him.
Verhaar’s response: “So why don’t I bring you a blend of the two from one of my favorite Margaret River vineyards in Australia?”.
He came out with a 2013 bottle of Ashbrook Estate (IDR975k/US$67.06). So dry, yet so smooth. Supremely satisfying.
Like how F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Gatsby’s character, Plantation is ostentatious — but that’s what makes the experience so fun. Theatrics were a thing all night, from the presentation of the bread basket brought by a “bread boy” to how the waiters mixed the steak tartare (IDR160k/US$11.00) and tuna tartare (IDR120k/US$8.25) right beside our table, to how the the dessert trolley was rolled through the narrow aisles between tables.
Usually, food at themed restaurants comes secondary to the atmosphere, but Plantation demonstrated to us that they take their food seriously. The house pandan bread, which comes with homemade butter, was so good, and fresh, that it could have just as easily come from a standalone bakery.
There’s a long open kitchen, with wood grills and wood-fired oven, so that guests can see everything being made.
Plantation’s menu has got an impressive selection of cuts for the grill. The whole “wood grill” section of the menu is nearly all dry-aged steak, including minute steak (IDR295k/US$20.29), rib eye (IDR400k/US$27.51), T-Bone (IDR750k/US$51.52), Sirloin on the bone (IDR400k/US$27.51) and there’s even a Wagyu burger (IDR200k/US$13.74).
The tenderloin fillet (IDR420k/US$28.88) was a treat, beautifully tender and not that we needed, but we had to appreciate how the waiters came around with a full-on mustard and condiments platter (horseradish, for the win!).
As for the seafood, the oven-baked scallops were delicious, served with bacon and parmesan. So delicate yet so rich.
But the yellow fin tuna steak (IDR225k/US$15.48) from the grill was not for us. The tuna is described in the menu as being served with fennel seeds, roasted peppers, cherry tomato, olives, potato, and lemon basil, but there was just an off taste to it. Not that the fish had gone bad or anything like that, but the consensus amongst our table was that the overpowering taste had to be cumin. Next time we’ll just get the seafood plate the restaurant recommends most: the whole rock lobster Thermidor (IDR855k/US$58.80).
As for the sides, we couldn’t ask for anything more of the black truffle mac and cheese (IDR150k/US$10.32) and smashed broccoli and garlic (IDR60k/US$4.13). The mac and cheese was perfectly creamy and rich and came out nice and hot in the pot, with the top crisped over. The broccoli was smashed — a first for us. It was like the healthier, more interesting version of garlicky mashed potatoes.
Dessert was a splendid finish with the souffle mocha (IDR120k/US$8.25), an indulgent dish heavy on the chocolate with notes of coffee, a dark chocolate sauce and cream that got poured right over, some cold gelato (because, duh, can’t have a hot chocolate dessert without gelato!), and some Kahlua in there for good measure.
If you’re going for a fancy night out and want to splurge, Plantation Grill is it. But don’t order the snapper. (You’ll thank us later).
Plantation Grill is at Double Six Luxury Hotel, Fourth Floor, Double Six Beach
+ 62 (0) 361 734 300
WhatsApp: +62 81 999 895 111
Reservations not required, but recommended