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Playing With Fire

Sarah Douglas dines at W Resort’s seamless steakhouse fire … and loves it.

Outside the sunset washes the sky with pastel colours. Palm trees cast their final shadows. Couples mingle on the terraces and a smooth beat carries on the breeze. Arriving at the W Bali at this time of day is always spectacular, it is after all the ultimate playground for grown ups.

It’s with more than a little excitement that we wander into the glowing dining room that is Fire. Staggered tables rise towards the inspired chandelier, the grill chefs are busy with their prep in the open kitchen and our hostess wonders would we like to enjoy the last light outside or take an inside table? I always sit inside at Fire. It is one of my favourite places to eat and watching the chefs at work, masters of the grill, is my idea of entertainment.

Dining here really is theatrical. Fire has been inspired by Bali’s famous Kecak dance, it’s a little bit New York steakhouse meets Balinese ballroom, on a smaller scale. There is more to this menu than steak but it’s hard to go past the amazing selection, at least for me.

Menus arrive; tall leather bound wine lists, a cocktail menu and a food menu. The waitress pours a little wine and waits for approval before filling our glasses, and little canapés arrive to tease the taste buds before the main event. The service is seamless, and it all feels very sophisticated for a holiday resort.

Another waiter arrives with a large platter displaying the various cuts and grades of steak. From fillets to a large tomahawk, at least 10 steaks fill the board. Some are aged, some are graded wagyu, some are organic, dry aged, or grass fed. It’s not an easy choice but we decide on one of the cheaper cuts, an aged organic rib-eye from Australia. It comes from one of the oldest organic beef suppliers in Australia and is aged in house.

From there on it’s a matter of choosing the sauce and the sides. Beef jus wins my vote along with truffled creamed potatoes and spinach cooked with garlic topped with parmesan. I add a sliver of pan-fried foie gras, a treat I can’t resist.

Putting his own stamp on the W dining experience is a balancing act for this classically trained chef. With so many repeat visitors, the transition from one chef to the next has to be seamless, changes take time and have to be subtle in execution. Just over a year on, Richard Bias has done that and it remains a work in progress.

His most personal project is creating a more sustainable kitchen and his series of pop up ‘Scrap your dinner’ events has brought one of the world’s best sustainable chefs to the W already with another celebrity dinner planned for November.

Stalks, skins, peels, yesterday’s bread, wilted greens, bones and offcuts are transformed into restaurant quality dishes and creative cocktails. It’s clever and clearly a passion for this chef. This year Mads Refslund, co-founder of Copenhagen’s astonishing restaurant Noma and author of ‘Scraps, Wilt and Weeds”, joined Bias in the kitchen and the next event promises to be another highlight for food lovers.

Meanwhile our steaks arrive and we are introduced to the knife selection. This is impressive, with names like ‘the gangster’, ‘the Italian job’ and ‘the butcher’ it’s a little tongue-in-cheek but impressive nevertheless.

There is one more flourish to attend to firstly as our waitress introduces the signature salt and pepper collection. A crystal of pink salt is grated over our plates along with black or pink and green peppercorns. It’s deliciously camp in its way but adds to the theatre of this dining experience.

Steaks are perfect, charred outside, glistening pink inside and full of flavour with just enough fat. It’s my kind of steak, which is the way the menu is designed. To each their own.

The other great thing about dining at Fire is that the W’s Culinary Director, in this case Chef Richard, is based in this kitchen, and takes his time to talk food, menus, steak, world politics, local growers or whatever you have on your mind.

Starfish Bloo, the W’s Oceanside restaurant has Chef de Cuisine, Ashley Garvey, manning the stoves and the floor, so Richard rules the W’s culinary experience here.

W has a host of dining options, both casual and formal in addition to the room service menus. The lounge at the entrance, Fuel, has a healthy all-day menu that Richard is revising as a plant-based menu, there’s also the decadent afternoon tea straight out of Alice in Wonderland with giant cakes and cookies served alongside pretty teapots. I hate to mention the home-made candy that sits wickedly on the bar because I have yet to walk past without eating two or three.

All day and night, from breakfast and the famous weekend brunches through to late-night dining, there is always something of interest on the menu. Throughout it all is a renewed commitment to sustainable dining that is perfectly in tune with the W brand.

Happily wined and dined, we make our way out of the W, a sprawling hive of activity even post dinner. Whatever, whenever you visit, W is always a treat and tonight at Fire was no exception.