SEMINYAK, Bali, AAP | By Diana Plater
All the cool places seem to begin with the letter, S, these days in Seminyak and surrounds. There's Sardine, Sarong and Sip - restaurant/bars in the area, which also includes nearby Kerobokan (known more widely for Schapelle's not-so-salubrious accommodation) and Legian.
The old staples - which were tres chic when they opened - such as Ku De Ta and La Lucciola are still popular. But they're getting nudged out by even more stylish bars and restaurants such as Metis and fun ones like the Red Carpet Champagne Bar.
Seminyak for some time now has been Bali's capital of cool, in a triangle of traffic-hugging streets that fringe the beach, with the best boutiques and homeware stores, as well as scores of galleries, restaurants and hip bars.
It's the place to stay for those who like their cocktails without umbrellas and own a wardrobe that doesn't include a Bintang T-shirt. Such patrons know instinctively that stilletos shouldn't be worn with sarongs. And they never turn and stare if a movie star schmoozes past.
On the other hand, tattoos and dreadlocks are allowed if worn with style, I observe while having coffee at the Tuck Shop, a deli on a busy corner that is also a fashion boutique, and could be in Byron Bay if the northern NSW town was full of Europeans.
As I wave off hawkers peddling cheap DVDs from my large outside table, a girl arrives on a cute little scooter with matching helmet - and a laptop.
Braided hair, tiny shorts, midrift tops and thongs are NOT de rigueur in this part of town.
Shopping here is fun with ex Aussies, Balinese and European fashion designers coming up with the goods - unusual and beautiful clothes, shoes and bags.
While locals love sunset walks, fishing and soccer games on the beach, and Japanese couples have their wedding photos taken there, those foreigners not catching the last bit of sun from their beach beds prefer to observe the scene over their cocktails.
Arriving in our chauffeur-driven car at the latest place to be seen, Metis in Kerobokan, we are shown to a seat overlooking the rice paddy for our pre-dinner drink. The night is young so it isn't pumping as yet.
Sardine just across the road though is filling up although you certainly don't feel like you're packed in a tin. The rice paddy here has been especially sown, where a vegetable garden used to be, to give a more authentic feel.
Sardine was opened last September by couple Pascal Chevillot, a fourth generation chef and restaurateur from Burgundy in France, and Pika, a designer/artist originally from Slovenia.
Over dessert they explain they met in St Martin in the Caribbean where they lived for 10 years and Pascal ran the Cha-cha-cha restaurant.
Then for seven years in Los Angeles when Pascal worked as a private chef to the rich and famous, they would visit Bali for a couple of annual months before deciding to relocate.
Pascal goes to the fishmarket each morning and whatever is available influences the menu; the vegies come from their organic farm in the mountains.
They have used bamboo to create a contemporary, open design incorporating traditional roofing. Their "green" philosophy is aimed at using environmentally renewable non-wood forest resources.
The waitresses wear turbans and uniforms, designed by a local, which adds to the exotic and arty feel of the place.
Uniforms seem to be the go in Bali with staff at The Red Carpet Champagne Bar which opened last August in Jalan Oberoi sporting pillbox hats and matching cute red outfits.
With the government taxes on wine, the prices are expensive for wine and champagne at most establishments. Cocktails are often better value and the local beer is great (just don't wear the T-shirt if you want to feel at home in Seminyak).
Food can also be expensive at these places especially when you compare it to the prices for wonderful street food. But then the atmosphere makes up for that.
Further afield, and quite a drive are The Rock Bar at AYANA at Jimbaren and Karma Resort's Cliff bar, both reached by inclinator and also favourite sunset cocktail spots.
If live music and dancing is your thing, a few bars in Jalan Oberoi, including one owned by an English pianist who plays between sets and further afield Legend in Kuta owned by a Balinese pop singer, Dek Antony, are worth looking at.
A great local trio, TrafficBlues, plays some nights at Kori in Poppies Lane 11, and if you're prepared to venture even further Erin from the band also plays in a salsa band in Sanur.
S also stands for special in Seminyak and surrounds.
Places to stay:
Space at Bali: Jalan Drupadi 8 Seminyak. Call: 62-361-731100; email@example.com; www.spaceatbali.com.
Sardine: 21 Jalan Petitenget, Kerobokan. Call: 62-361-738202.
Sip Wine Bar: A French bistro opposite the Bintang Supermarkert in Legian. Jalan Raya Seminyak, Kuta.
Metis: Jalan Petitenget No6. Call: 62-361-737888; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarong: Jalan Petitenget No19x. Call: 62-361-737809; email@example.com.
La Lucciola: On the south side of the Petitenget temple car park opposite the beach at Seminyak.
The Tuck Shop: Jalan Laksmana 10A, Taman Sari, Seminyak.
Kori: Poppies Lane 11, Kuta. Call: 62-361-758605 or visit: www.korirestaurant.co.id
Red Carpet Champagne Bar: Jalan Laksmana 42c. Call: 62 361 737-889; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Legend Bar: Sahadewa Street No.09, Legian-Kuta. Call: 62-361-755376.
Karma Kandara's Nammos Private Beach Club: www.karmaresorts.com.
The Rock Bar, AYANA Resort and Spa Bali, Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaren: Call: 62-361-702222. Visit: www.ayanaresort.com.
Religion: Jalan Laksmana 4A. Call: 62-361-731916. Carries the Religion, Buddhist Punk and House of the Gods ranges.
Franklin Lee Boutique: Jalan Laksaman no 34a, Seminyak. Call: 62-361-730182. Carries locally designed women's clothes.
Word of Mouth: 9 Jalan Kunti, Kunti Arcade shop 10, Seminyak.
Allegra: Jalan Kunti, Seminyak.
The Prisoners of St Petersburg: 942 Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak.
Garuda Indonesia operates flights to Denpasar, Bali from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Prices are from Sydney to Bali $1034 pp; from Melbourne $1016 pp and from Perth $744 pp return economy, including taxes.
Valid for departures to March 31, 2011, black out dates and seasonal surcharges apply.
*The writer was a guest of AYANA Resort and Spa Bali, InterContinental Bali Resort, Space at Bali and Garuda Indonesia.