Metis Bali: a review

When Bali institution Kafe Warisan shuttered a few weeks ago, those craving French cuisine with rice paddy views didn’t have long to wait to head out again. Warisan creators Said Alem and Nicolas Tourneville opened Metis just shy of two weeks ago and we thought we’d give it a test drive for a birthday dinner on October 27.

In summary: The food, in particular the sauces, are superb; the prices are reasonable; the service is friendly but needs a little work; and foie gras isn’t “legendary” when a new restaurant has only been open two weeks!

Their phone rang unanswered twice through mid-afternoon when we tried to make our reservation. Called in the evening and it was answered immediately. We had no problems making a reservation just a couple of days beforehand, booking in for a table for two at 8pm on a Tuesday. Courteous.

Layout & initial impressions:
Metis sits well back off Petitenget Road with adequate parking. We came by taxi. The dramatic pathway leading from the street to the restaurant — complete with water-borne torches ablaze — is somewhat lowlit, enough so that the half-dozen two-inch high steps along the way could be tripped on by the unaware. Brisk and polite security zapped our bags. When a mobile phone set off an alarm he asked, “Is that a phone?” to which we resisted saying, “No, it’s a bomb!” and entered the main foyer. The main entry has an Asian-inspired antiques store to the left and macaroon/chocolate shop to the right, with the main restaurant reached via a slight dogleg between the two. As you enter the dining area, you can immediately take in the splendid vista of the restaurant and rice paddy beyond.

Low slung bar at Metis. Image from Metis website

The restaurant is configured as an open-plan “U” with the central area a small grassy tableau, behind which sits the paddy views, a la Warisan. A long, luminescently green bar and casual lounge area runs along the right leg of the U ending in a sunken bar that juts directly into the paddy. The long bar was held up by a few foreigners in shorts and flipflops — we’re not clotheshorses, but come *on* people! The left leg is partly given over to the enclosed kitchen area. The best seating is at the centre of the U, right beside the lawn — and that’s where we were seated.

The bar:
We arrived almost 30 minutes early but were seated to eat immediately — we would have preferred to be asked if we wanted a drink at the bar first, so we ended up asking. The sunken bar, open to the sky, was initially deserted save one other customer, and a rat that ran straight between my feet (a mouse, according to our waiter), giving the paddy setting a touch more authenticity.

The modular seating is somewhat problematic. It’s basically two concentric half-circle lounges, one bigger than the other — they fit together with a small table flush to both at the centre. But the smaller circle needs a few people to be moved out to allow people to sit down, with the table then at the centre. We had to get the staff to help us position the seats, as did two other groups who came later. We imagine they’ll eventually have the tables spun out and ready for customers in the future.

Once we were seated, service was prompt and helpful. We ordered a Fifty Seven Magnum (70,000 Rp++) and a Chamango (70,000 Rp++). We’re all too aware of the liquor pricing issues in Indonesia, but in a place like Metis, we expected to pay more for our drinks — and get a martini glass of the size KuDeTa serves up. Beer nuts with toasted garlic accompanied the drinks. A margarita served for round number two was a better size. Service had to be called over to make a second order, despite an empty glass on the table for five minutes or so. Napkins didn’t arrive till the second drink. Beer nuts were not refilled. The jazzy music was audible but not too loud and as it wasn’t crowded, it felt quite intimate. We can’t help but wonder what they will do in wet season though — as it was the lounges felt a touch damp and the rains haven’t even begun. When I asked a waiter about protection in the rain, she said they would cover everything in plastic sheeting.

Metis long bar image from Metis website

Once back at our table, we perused one main menu each, a specials menu, a foie gras menu and the wine list. A small canapĂ© was served and we asked for bread — twice — but it didn’t appear until our appetizers did, 30 minutes later. The lack of bread was annoying, as was the floodlight directed upwards into the frangipani beside our table, which needs some shielding.

The food:
The business end of the evening! If you were a fan of Warisan, you’ll not be disappointed with the fare at Metis. An expansive menu, one of us had a lot of trouble deciding just what to have. Describing a dish as containing the restaurant’s “legendary foie gras” when the paint is barely dry on the walls, was a little presumptuous. You *were* Warisan, and now you are Metis! We ordered grilled scallops with foie gras (195,000 Rp) followed by barramundi (165,000 Rp) and grilled fresh Japanese scallops with gratinated sea urchin sauce (180,000 Rp) followed by Moroccan lamb rack mechoui (215,000 Rp). We asked for and received a twenty-minute break between courses.

Unfortunately wine in Indonesia is taxed to a completely ludicrous degree and as we’re just not willing to pay $75 for a $15 bottle of wine, we tend to make do with the “local” Hatten wines. Metis had both their white and rose on the menu, at a slight mark-up, but not the red. I’m the first to say the Hatten red is far from memorable, but its drinkable and not outrageously expensive. We’d have got a bottle of the Hatten Red if Metis carried it, but their next cheapest, (3Rivers Shiraz Cabernet) carried a substantial mark-up — so we just went with a glass of 3Rivers (120,000 Rp per glass) with the main and a couple of Heinekens (35,000 Rp per bottle).

On the upside, water comes cheap — free flow Evian for the evening cost 25,000 Rp per person, though we’d suggest the water be decanted into something more attractive than 1.5 litre plastic bottles that look to be straight from the Circle K.

Metis bar area. Image from Metis (note image on their website is reversed)

The Japanese scallops were fabulous. Set on a creamy sea urchin sauce, the dish was especially rich, but the scallops had a smooth, succulent texture and delicious flavour. The bread — at last! — was perfect for mopping up the sauce. That plate went back glisteningly clear. The fois gras with scallops and puy lentils was outstanding. We usually feel sufficiently guilty to never eat fois gras, but were tempted and it was delectable. Despite the fabulously rich sauce, even the flavour of the lentils came through.

By the time we’d finished the entree the restaurant was humming. The staff coped well and we were never left waiting. One distraction was that as the restaurant got busier the double swinging doors into the kitchen area were swung open and closed near constantly. This continual flicker of light and moving people was mildly irritating — and we were on the opposite side of the restaurant — yet people were being seated right beside this. Reserve ahead and specifically ask to be seated away from the kitchen doors.

If our scallops were fabulous, the lamb rack was superb — we’d go as far as to say it was probably the best lamb rack one of us has eaten — ever. Set on a base of vegetable ragout with a side of couscous, the etched crackle skin (easily removable for those who watch what they eat — not us!) sat atop lamb that fell off the bone. There was a slight spice-y aftertaste — star anise? — but the complex flavours were delightful. This was a hearty serving and it took a long, thoroughly pleasurable time to work through.

Our barramundi meanwhile was perhaps just a touch overdone, but the risoni underneath had perfect bite and was nestled in yet another amazing sauce. A win, but with some order envy alongside that lamb.

Dessert? We couldn’t fit anything in, but it must be said, after spending a lot of time trying to decide on the mains, the dessert offerings left us a little uninspired.

All food and beverage plus service (6%) and tax (10%) came out at 1,614,910 Rp which was a bit less than the expected million per head we’d have guessed ahead of time.

As we left, we suddenly found inspiration lurking again in the

little sweet shop. We selected some chocolate mint truffles and a few macaroons to take home, with a selection of six coming to 33,000 Rp. We also perused the antiques — a lovely Chinese wedding box jad a cool price tag of 37,5000,000 Rp — not sure if the price includes a wedding ceremony.

Our advice?
Book ahead and ask for a table by the lawn. Specifically ask to be away from the kitchen doors. Get there early, perhaps 30 minutes beforehand to enjoy the bar area. Get the lamb!

Jl. Petitenget No. 6, Bali, Indonesia.
T: (0361) 737 888

All images taken from the Metis website – note the last images is reversed on their website