All Fired Up by The Yak

Wow, great article by The Yak Online! We feel very honored that Barbacoa is marked as ‘a keeper’. Read the full article that was written below. If you want to the full article on the website of The Yak, just click: The Yak

All fired up

Barbacoa brings the flavour of South America to Bali

I’M going to go out on a limb here and say that Barbacoa is a keeper.

The 120-seat South American fusion restaurant is new and fresh, the food is fine and the cocktail menu is enough to keep us hanging around, long after we have gleefully consumed their homemade honeycomb ice cream sandwiches.

Somehow the locally produced sustainable materials, including a huge area tiled in beautiful hand-made local tiles, has blended perfectly with a South American sensibility, complete with black wrought iron detailing, to create an atmosphere that sells us the best of both.

The location is pretty as well. Opposite Sardine, up the road from Metis on Jl Petitengett, Barbacoa enjoys a fabulous view over rice fields at the back where a wide terrace is the perfect spot to sample some of those high-end tequila type drinks before heading into dinner.

Without a doubt the highlight here is the wood-fire built beside the kitchen where a classic asado has been created. This involves a whole beast being splayed and cooked by indirect heat for hours and hours. Resulting in the main attraction on this menu, succulent roasted meat with a skin so crisp you can almost hear the crunch. It is a flavourful meat lover’s dream come true.

“Originally we set out to do an Argentinean concept restaurant but the availability of fresh, quality produce didn’t lend itself, so we branched out and decided to include a range of classic South American styles that kind of tango together,” says chef/partner and currently General Manager, Adam Dundas-Taylor.

Formerly at Jamie Oliver’s Restaurant 15, this guy has the creds. He also worked at Nobu in London, he’s worked for a few stars as well, including Elton John, Kate Moss, the Parker-Bowles family, and ended up heading up his own catering company based in Bondi Beach.

His approach to food is simple; it has to be fresh, simple and high quality. We get it. He also has a thing about cocktails and brings the expertise of his partners to call. Mixologist Kieron Prenter is the man behind the cocktail bar and clearly has a great love of top shelf tequila as there is a dedicated tequila terrace upstairs.

Margaritas head the list and starring on the menu is their signature chocolate margarita. The wine cellar is another highlight of Barbacoa and the list is growing. The other two partners are Consulting chef, Sean Prenter and fashionable guy about Bali, Peter Zuitton, who all bring something to the table that is fresh and full of personality.

Food though is what restaurants are about and this one has lots to say.

Despite being a meat-driven concept, there are some vegetable dishes on the menu that are full of flavor and worthy of a meal unto themselves. Portion sizes here are big and the prices are very reasonable with many dishes under the $10 mark and only two that come out over $20: the asado and the 250gram rib-eye steak. Both are big enough to share. The concept of this menu is a shared table experience so diners can order a sampling and pass them around.

Vegetable dishes include the unlikely charred baby carrots served with parsley, lemon and maple vinaigrette. This method is a classic apparently, frankly I had only ever seen a sad demonstration in my own kitchen, while this one is delicious. Fried cauliflower with cumin, chickpeas, pine nuts and raisins is vaguely Indian but we didn’t care and the green beans with anchovy butter, lemon and oregano is still haunting me.

Adam is a keen fan of anchovy (perhaps that Jamie Oliver influence?) and though I am not, I have to admit there’s nothing fishy about his dishes. He has some chocolate-anchovy truffles on the dessert menu as well, perhaps a few of those margaritas might lend me some Latino courage to try them.

Our feast centred around vegetables and the eight-hour lamb which well and truly lived up to the hype; juicy and falling apart with skin that was so good your skinniest friends would be hoovering it.

The signature dish is the suckling pig cooked in the pit which was not on the menu the night we ate at Barbacoa but I will be going back for that. Beside this we were convinced to try another of their signature dishes, charcoal octopus with chorizo and crispy polenta. The dish features big knobs of fresh octopus, charred and then bathing in all those salty juices, I would never have ordered it but I’m glad it arrived.

Despite the fact that they gave us half portions, we were already sporting bellies that a Columbian drug lord would be proud of, and then came dessert. It isn’t often that you find a restaurant that does everything well and I will single this out as a fabulous ending. A three-hour pudding turned out to be a rich, smooth baked custard bathed in caramel, while the ice cream sandwich that my guest ordered was perfection without the stick. Two thin wafers surrounded a rich creamy ice cream studded with homemade honeycomb. We’re still talking about it.

Barbacoa is the source of the word barbecue and there’s a whole lot of fire happening here, hot food and cool interiors; a beautiful breezy terrace, the tequila terrace upstairs and a large air-conditioned dining room with a central bar, open kitchen, lots of worn leather banquettes and a whole heap of style.

We came, we ate everything, we drank in style and we left happy.