Brunch—an indulgent and sociable meal inextricably tied with last night’s debauchery—is a dirty, dirty word in Ubud. The once quaint hometown of Bali’s artists and craftsmen has transformed into a holistic healing hotspot inundated with a parade of cold-press-juicing, kale-munching dietary tribe and sun-saluting limbersexuals seeking spirituality with their spirulina and clarity with their chia.
Plant-based restaurants and clean-eating cafés are sprouting up faster than the mould on my walls. One can’t swing one’s eco-friendly cloth bag without knocking over five raw food chefs or yoga teachers. It’s easier to find a colon whisperer (I kid you not) than a cool brunch spot in this town.
Fortunately, a new wave of restaurants in Ubud is stirring things up and reviving the art of brunch and the joy of daytime drinking with hangover dishes that are earth conscious and body friendly. Let’s clink our glasses to my top picks for Ubud’s best brunches!
“My number one brunch place is glow for the fresh food and the relaxing atmosphere.” –Eva Natasa, Industrial Designer
A long-running smash hit among late risers, glow at the award-winning COMO Shambhala Estate Bali offers the best bottomless Sunday brunch deal. The healthy à la carte Mediterranean-inspired menu is curated to satisfy the fussiest retreat queens and health honchos, boasting homegrown organic ingredients, freshly caught seafood and the finest imported meats.
Nurse your hangover with an invigorating chilled soup of tamarind and young coconut, followed by “lean and clean green”, a detoxifying green juice that delivers nutritious goodness straight into your system. Start with the avocado and fresh soya bean dip with seaweed salsa and chia seed crisps.
The spelt-flour pide is a scrumptious Noah’s Ark of roasted pumpkin, spinach and caramelized onions sprinkled with goat’s feta and pistachio crumbs.
The less culinary restricted gastronomes will not be disappointed by the Australian Wagyu beef slider topped with Gruyère cheese or the harissa-spiced succulent tiger prawns with borlotti beans.
Check out the action in the open kitchen or sit back and watch the local village girls’ practise the traditional Balinese dance accompanied by a gamelan orchestra. This is guilt-free brunch at its best.
COMO Shambhala Estate Bali
Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar, Bali
T: (+62) 361 978 888
“I love the variety of delicious freshly made Italian specialties, and since it’s just across the street from Room4Dessert, I can sneak back into service quickly. My daughter loves the vegetarian options.” –Will Goldfarb, chef-owner of Room4Dessert Ubud
Leave it to the Italians to bring back the tradition of spending Sundays with family and friends over a delectable meal. Uma Cucina is a chic Italian restaurant at Uma by COMO, Ubud that epitomizes the Italian way of celebrating life’s simple pleasures: good food, beautiful art and great company.
Uma Cucina’s all-you-can-eat Italian Sunday brunch with punch has won the hearts and stomachs of many with its wood-fired brick oven pizzas and bread, house-made pasta, cheeses and sausages, classic Italian gelatos and granitas and free-flowing beverage packages.
Delightful, easily shareable antipasti include yellowfin tuna crudo, bruschetta, jumbo octopus and calamari fritti. Tuck into memorable mains like the baby chicken and the signature pizzettas—my favourite is the prosciutto di parma with organic egg, caramelized onions, radicchio and black pepper.
The restaurant—designed by architect Cheong Yew Kuan—oozes conviviality and stimulates lively interactions. A large communal dining table at the heart of the restaurant, an outdoor terrace seating and a laid-back lounge bar with a robust wine list and very crafty cocktails encourage guests to kick back, relax and enjoy la dolce vita.
Uma by COMO, Ubud
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud, Bali
T: (+62) 361 972 448
Rise and shine! The early bird catches the fabulous breakfast at Bisma Eight’s Copper Kitchen & Bar, a rooftop restaurant offering Asian-inspired comfort foods with a contemporary touch. Melbourne-born Chef Duncan McCance, affectionately dubbed “The Beard” for sporting some sexy scruff, loves to get down and dirty and grow his own vegetables in the nearby organic gardens.
The cuisine of Copper highlights this bountiful blessing of the seasonal harvest and locally sourced ingredients with great finesse, fusing indigenous Asian flavours with modern cooking techniques in a way that is subtle, complex and balanced.
The breakfast menu is decadently brunch-inspired with waistline-friendly options: Classic rösti with orange and miso cured salmon, blanched spinach and fried eggs sprinkled with black sesame; honey-drizzled waffle with yuzu parfait, poached apple, matcha-infused rye, date and rosella jam; and sago, coconut and chia pudding tossed with fresh mango and dragon fruit and topped with toasted coconut. Everything is served with house-made sourdough or pastries and your choice of coffee, tea or freshly squeezed juices.
Whether you choose to dine alfresco on the sunbathed patio with white curtains billowing in the balmy breeze or savour your brunch in the airy indoor seating with rice field views, a morning at Copper is nothing short of glorious.
Copper Kitchen & Bar
Jl. Bisma, Ubud, Bali
T: (+62) 361 479 2888
From the passionate food creatives behind Copper Kitchen & Bar comes Folk Coffee Bar, the newest kid on the touristy block of Jalan Monkey Forest. Led by Copper’s Chef Duncan McCance, Folk charms with a down-to-earth modern cuisine built upon Duncan’s multi-cultural Australian heritage, effortlessly marrying diverse global flavours with contemporary cooking methods.
Duncan has a natural flair for plating up simple soulful food that lets his homegrown ingredients shine. The rice, chia and coconut pudding with sliced banana, strawberry, tangerine, preserved rosella and fresh mint pays homage to Bali’s seasonal produce.
The poached eggs on fresh-baked sourdough toast with tomatoes, bocconcini and bacon screams brunch, while the soft shell crab burger with coleslaw, wasabi mayo and fresh coriander is a tasty little catch guaranteed to please any crowd.
The standout dish for me is the beetroot-cured salmon with savoury croquette, black sesame fried egg and crunchy lettuce, elevated by a surprise kick from the dried chilli vinaigrette.
The inspiration behind Folk’s unique design philosophy is the curious masyarakat (community) of Gianyar province and the challenges they face as they straddle the traditions of yesterday and the reforms of today.
The longing for simplicity, harmony and a reconnection with nature are reflected in the rugged, patchy local polpolan—painstakingly handmade earth walls—adorned with fitted terracotta light pots and replicas of primitive scratchings.
Folk is a cosy bustling brunch joint that radiates warmth, evokes creativity and delivers heart-warming food. Sit by the people-watching window, sip the special blend from Tetap Happy Coffee Roasters and enjoy your lazy weekday brunch. That’s all, folks!
Folk Coffee Bar
Jl. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali
T: (+62) 361 908 0888
This article was first published in Foodies — May 2016.
Photos by Meliana Salim and Chema Calvo unless otherwise stated.