The narrow stretch of Jalan Arjuna in Kuta, Bali’s legendary tourist hub, is clustered with tacky shops and dodgy late-night bars. The last thing one would expect to find hidden in the side alley off this notoriously congested street is an oasis of elegant dining. And this is part of the charm of Pearl Restaurant, Bali’s best-kept French fine dining secret.
When you are young and carefree, you feel as if the world is your oyster. This certainly rang true for French chef Jeremy Blanchet, who relocated to Bali aged 22 upon completing his apprenticeship under Thierry Maffre-Bogé at his one-starred Michelin restaurant La Petite France in Provence. It is in the expansive grounds of Bali Hotel Pearl, a quaint boutique hotel founded by his parents in 2008, that Chef Jeremy began to build his idealistic dream, opening Pearl Restaurant in the heart of Kuta in 2009.
Pearl is a tropical sanctuary infused with French flair and the ubiquitous Balinese charm, offering chic indoor dining and breezy garden terrace seating beneath the starry skies. The 60-seat restaurant serves up refined French classics elevated with Chef Jeremy’s creative touches, integrating local produce and subtle hints of Asian flavours into his dishes.
Start your evening with the succulent grilled scallop wrapped in Parma ham, sitting pretty on light asparagus mousse with a refreshing salad of passion fruit and balsamic vinaigrette. All-time favourite appetizers include tuna tartare, lobster bisque and smoked pan-seared foie gras with caramelized apple.
One of Pearl’s signature mains—and a personal favourite of Chef Jeremy’s—is the salmon confit on lightly sautéed edamame, artichoke, snow peas and slow-cooked fennel, served with kaffir foam and a side of freshly shaved fennel on top of rich, earthy shitake risotto.
It is no secret that Chef Jeremy has a soft spot for the sweeter things in life. His savoury courses often contain a saccharine element of surprise—a slice of candied mandarin here, a smidgen of sweet kaffir lime gel there. His true passion lies in the cool comfort of his “pastry lounge” and it shows. Watching him whip up a decadent assiette gourmande (a selection of mini tasting desserts) of fondant au chocolat, crème brûlée, panna cotta and dark chocolate mousse is like witnessing an authentic love in action; he’s like a kid in a candy store. Pearl is renowned for its indulgent desserts, more than anything else.
Chef Jeremy is a young, spirited culinary artist with endless talents and a contagious love of life. Together with his brother Anthony (who seamlessly shifts between managing the hotel and helping at the restaurant on busy evenings), the dynamic duo have carried on their parents’ legacy beautifully, unleashing their potential and bringing a breath of fresh air into Bali Hotel Pearl and Pearl Restaurant.
Bali Hotel Pearl
Jl. Arjuna (Double Six)
Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
T: (+62) 81 934 334 060
This article was first published in Exquisite Taste, February-April 2015.
Photos courtesy of Pearl Restaurant.