The opening of Cocoon in 2010 heralded the winds of change, breathing life into the Double Six seafront and marking the rise of a new wave of beach clubs that took the resort-style experience out of the hotels and onto the beach.
The saying ‘life is a beach’ is particularly apt in Bali; but as I nestle into the cushions in a pool side pavilion with a fluffy pink cocktail in hand, I am thinking that life is actually a beach club. No annoying sand, no sarong sellers, no amorous beach boys. Instead, I can float in the pool, enveloped in a luxury bubble of plush day beds and billowing white drapes, while a dj spins cool house tunes and fabulously attentive staff serve a steady stream of gourmet food and drinks. Yes, this is the life!
Swanky and elegant, at first glance Cocoon seems like it might be pretentious, but actually it’s refreshingly attitude free – and small enough to feel intimate and welcoming. Mediterranean influences prevail with a design of gleaming white sensual curves set again a vivid blue ocean; but there is also plenty of Balinese flavour, with bamboo ceilings, carved wooden bar and of course the fabulous setting on palm fringed Seminyak Beach. The roof top has panoramic ocean views – perfect for a sundowner, and equally ideal for those looking to infuse a party vibe into their weddings and private events. As the name suggests, Cocoon provides a sanctuary, enticing you into a journey of subtle transformation. Lazy mornings roll into chilled afternoons that morph into groovy sunsets. Evenings are sleeker, with a more sophisticated menu and vibe that is worth dressing up for. The transformation is complete as the diners dwindle and an up for it party crowd gather to see in the new day.
Executive Chef, Australian born Nick Philip has been with Cocoon for just over a year, creating a modern international menu with various influences. French cooking techniques are apparent in complex emulsions; Asian flavours are created with the extensive use of fresh herbs; Mediterranean cuisine is represented in tapas and wood fired pizza; while fresh Balinese seafood inspires many of the dishes. An enthusiastic and thoughtful chef, Philip is big on flavour and loves experimenting with local ingredients, citing “the bitter sweet taste of kalamasni lime” as a favourite. Fresh turmeric root is another recent discovery which he grates into sauces and risottos for great colour and fresh earthy aroma, adding “It also has health benefits you wouldn’t believe, from treatment of cancer to alzheimer’s disease.”
As the midday sun hovers overhead, we take shade under a sun parasol on the terrace and indulge in exquisitely soft, finely sliced citrus cured coral trout gently laid over a fragrant salad. The lemon and olive oil marinade combined with tangy bursts of pomelo create a dominant citrus flavour, off set with a hint of anise from the shaved fennel, a sprig of mint and a smooth sweet/sour raspberry emulsion. We follow with the Malaysian Laksa Broth, beautifully presented with seared tiger prawns and plump scallops afloat a delicious, thick yellow broth textured with shaved coconut, wilted bok choy, rice noodles, coriander and peanuts.
All day Grazing
Afternoons are best spent lounging pool side, where a casual menu includes tapas, homemade dips, Thai fish cakes, and salt and pepper calamari. We opt for a couple of snack-sized wood fired pizzas. The serrano comes with bocconcini, semi dried tomato, oregano, and thin slices of ham; while the goats cheese pizza is as sweet as the serrano is salty, thanks to a topping of fresh pear, walnuts, and truffled honey. At first the sweetness is disconcerting, but after a few mouthfuls the combination makes a whole lot of sense!
Evenings are all about fine dining – and romance, with flickering candles and the soft glow of lamps dangling from the trees conspiring to create a sensual allure. We have an entrée of blue swimmer crab salad, the strong flavour of crab softened by the sweetness of pomelo, the tender crunch of celery hearts, and a wonderful sorbet of kalamansi lime and coriander flower. The gazpacho dressing has the same tangy tomato flavour as the soup but a thicker substance. Our main is grilled lobster & seared scallops served atop a black creamy risotto enriched with fish stock and squid ink. This dish is beautifully composed, the rich heavy risotto contrasting with the light, aromatic coconut and kaffir lime foam, the freshest of seafood, and a salad garnish of slivered pineapple, shaved coconut and sprinkling of fresh herbs. Dessert is Chocolate Creameax Cannelon, with dense chocolate mousse encased in tubes of biscuit tuille served with swirls of blood orange syrup, aero bar and an interesting scoop of olive oil ice cream to balance the sweetness.
Cocktails any time
The cocktail list is extensive, but my favourites are definitely the signature creations by talented Mixologist and Bar Manager, Jakartan born Badru Salam. His island spice is the perfect drink for the tropics; an exotic blend of the most magical of rums – Bacardi Gold, infused with fresh mint leaves, stirred with a stem of lemongrass and topped with a good and spicy homemade caramel ginger beer. The truffleberry mixes vodka, crème de cacao, raspberries and cream into a delightfully frothy pink concoction, crowned with a fluffy white rim of dried coconut. It looks like a fairy drink, but beware, its sweet taste is dangerously moreish.