Simple food, a beautiful sunset
Sometimes an establishment stands out precisely because it doesn’t try too hard to stand out. Rooftop, a cozy restaurant on, well, the rooftop of The 101 Legian Hotel, is one of those kinds of places.
101’s general manager, Dewi Mas Bloem, passionately explained that Rooftop is a simple place with good food and an exceptionally good view for those who love sunset.
It aims not at the fine-dining crowd, who demand dishes with names that will leave you scrambling for a dictionary, nor the backpacker hordes, who would be satisfied with mainstream burgers and hotdogs anyway.
“We are targeting those individuals, locals and foreign alike, who want a good place to have dinner and listen to good music before they head out to the nightspots and clubs along Legian Street,” Dewi Mas said, proudly proclaiming that Rooftop was the first dining and sunset lounge in Legian.
The responsibility for translating that concept into reality is entrusted into the hands, and brain, of course, of the recently recruited chef and beverage manager, Sebastiaan Laffeber, a charming Dutch culinary expert, who prefers to be viewed as “hijack-able” than “available”.
“I was working in Africa when a Canadian lady ‘hijacked’ me and took me to Taiwan, the first step in my long Asian adventure. Two years later she went back to Canada, looking for a cooler climate, while I had grown accustomed to the hot and humid temperature of Asia,” he grinned, recalling a decisive event around 10 years ago.
Laffeber takes his inspiration from the things he sees in Bali: its spices, its fresh vegetables, its gentle and laid-back people, and its fresh, invigorating culture.
“The new menu at Rooftop is a reflection of the lightness, gentleness and freshness of this island. We don’t want to serve heavy dishes, because most of our patrons will go clubbing after having dinner here. We want them to be able to dance, to have a good time after they leave our place,” he stressed.
So, he threw away all the heavy stuff and brought in a large number of fresh things, literally. Previously, there was no salad on the menu. Presently, Rooftop offers seven different salads, including the heavenly Nicoise. Its briefly seared tuna fillets are so tender and deliciously fresh that you can almost taste the salty water of the ocean caressing your tongue.
Laffeber is also the person responsible for creating the Rooftop’s seafood paella, so far the establishment’s bestselling dish. It is probably the only paella a hungry Spaniard could find along Legian.
“When I presented it to the hotel’s top brass, they retorted ‘why are you serving us nasi goreng [Indonesian fried rice]?’. After they tasted it, all they could say was how delicious it was,” Laffeber recalled.
Another treat offered by Rooftop is the view of Kuta’s skyline and a magnificent sunset.
A portion of paella, a glass of Dirty Bit, and a beautiful sunset are really the kinds of things that will add
another chapter of happiness to your daily existence. Having the charming Laffeber sitting next to you and, in his roguish way, narrating his journey, and probably picking up the tab, wouldn’t hurt either.
— Photos by I Wayan Juniarta