Ahhh the French! Now there's a topic! One of my best travel memories is of a Christmas spent in Bordeaux with a wonderful grandma who hosted me for 3 days. We spent hours in the kitchen, talking nonstop, her in French and me in English and neither of us understanding a word of the other. Despite the many flash kitchen bits and bobs hidden away in her cupboard (banned at Christmas!), we shucked kilos of Arcachon oysters and crushed hazelnuts galore, while working our way every so diligently through bottles of Bordeaux vinos. Then we popped down to midnight mass in the village and wandered home at some ridiculous hour to eat. That Christmas Eve meal was amazing. And here we are, many years later, in Kuta Lombok, and it is so refreshing to find French fare on offer here too, made with the same spirit as my dear old Joelene.
BZH Crepe - French Creperie Restaurant
BZH is a spacious, casual restaurant on the main road into Kuta town, right before PipeDreams Resort & Villas, open from noon to 11pm. Now I know,
some require their cafes to be all about the instagrammable surroundings, and in that respect, it is true BZH is devoid of pretty chandeliers and stylish
feature walls. They opt instead for a more stripped back, simplistic feel to the place, with the open style restaurant all white and blues, and casually
comfortable. Same goes for the food. No purple edible flowers or streaks of beetroot confit here, but, like some of our favourite eateries,
the food is the standout, and the reason we are here.
And as the name suggests, BZH
is all about the crepes, and the savoury version, the galette, which are made out of healthy, gluten-free buckwheat flour. The best seller is a true
beauty, La Norway. Take a crispy buckwheat galette, fill it with smoked salmon, spinach and goats cheese. Voila! Mouthfuls of creamy, rich
deliciousness. Now, I may have gorgeous (read annoying, garden destroying) goats living all around me, but access to quality goats cheese in this corner
of Indo is another matter. Top notch dairy products, much less from goats, is the stuff I dream of. (The easily accessible local stuff doesn't melt,
and doesn't go mouldy out of the fridge. Go figure).
Another that is first
off the menu is La Complete. Now this is a really authentic, traditional one, particularly around the southern town of Bretagne, which is where the
owners are heavily influenced by. The traditional buckwheat galette is filled with real Emmental cheese, eggs, chicken ham (no pork products
here!), though I had added onions in mine, and it hit all the right places! So rich, so tasty and so filling! All the galettes are accompanied
by a side salad, or more substantial ones can be ordered separately. I hear the Salade de Gasiers is delicious.
If galettes are not your thing, BZH has you covered, with French style cordon blue chicken or ribeye steak with all those trimmings that bring back memories
of my Joelene's kitchen, like creamy mashed potatoes and sauted vegetables.
Then, why stop there? The sweet crepes on the menu are just as amazing. These are made with normal flour, though can be substituted with buckwheat
if preferred. So many choices for the topping. Perhaps the classic lemon and sugar, or that naughtier classic nutella, (who said life was about being
good, anyway?) or even better, the salty butter caramel? Caramelised banana/apple/pineapple, topped with ice-cream and peanuts drizzled in homemade
chocolate sauce? Too much? Never! Now we're talking!
And of course, wash it down with a beer (they have options other than Bintang!), wine (even real French ones!) or a cocktail. A complete meal. Prices
here for the real deal start from Rp. 25,000 and up. Now it is true that the little crepe stall down the road will make you one for half the price,
but I can guarantee you it won't have authentic gooey cheese, or homemade caramel sauce! Quality, people, and French at that. Enough said.
Grab & Surf Sandwiches
Owned by the same good souls as BZH, Grab & Surf Sandwiches is a wonderful Kuta institution, situated in the little row of shops, next to
Temptations Deli, on the road out to Ashtari. Open from an astounding 6:30 am through to 8pm, this place is perfect for that pre-surf fuel up coffee
and bite to eat on your way past to Are Guling or Mawi, or alternatively, a perfect stop on the way back in. Let's be realistic; some days, nasi bungkus
just doesn't cut it. Essentially a takeaway joint, there are a few tables out the front for those of us that just can't wait. Must eat now. We know
Grab & Surf is all about the sandwiches, but of course, being French, they are made with baguettes! And because we're talking about the BZH
people, you can bet your bottom rupiah that the ingredients are all about the homemade freshness! Most sandwich bars would crack open a big bottle
of mayonnaise; instead, here it is made fresh, preservative free and authentic, in batches, up to 3 times a day! I kid you not! Then there's
the homemade sun-dried tomatoes, and the yummy olive tapenade made with quality olives. The hot popular is Supreme, which is stuffed full of
roast chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, lettuce and tartar sauce. Then there's Virgin, the classic for all of you who prefer your animals
living, which is guacamole, sun-dried tomatoes, olive tapenade, confit capsicum and lettuce. Yum. Take your pick of 30 cm of crunchy, fresh goodness,
or if you're the hungry type, the 55 cm. Now that's a lot of sandwich! Grab & Surf are out to prove, once and for all, that it IS about
size, as well as what you DO with it! Golly gosh.
There's loads of other things on the menu other than sandwiches. Take for example, the hot Croque Monsieur, white toast with melted cheese and proper
ham, slathered in bechamel sauce (or, if you're from the southern hemisphere, a flash cheese and ham toasty). Or opt for a carb-free salad to keep
the guilts at bay. Croissants, pain au chocolat and homemade brownies are a favourite of ours too, much to the demise of my waistline. And the
awesome new addition to the menu, the French style roasted whole chicken, all crispy skinned saltiness and delicious, with optional roast potatoes.
Pre-order one for ultimate freshness, walk up the hill at Merese, and watch the sunset with a hot chick and a Bintang in hand. (See what I did
there?). Or perfect for a beach picnic. Or do what we do, and take it home to impress dinner guests (and just hope they don't spot that we don't
actually have an oven). Spoilt for choice, really.
So, do yourself a favour, stop by BZH Crepes or Grab & Surf Sandwiches, stuff yourself silly with all that is delicious, sit back, and dream of those
French grandmas we all wish we had. Oui, oui!!