As I wander down Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, the sight of a new Starbucks sign next to the classic Café Wayan (established in 1986, the days of dirt roads and art shops owned by local artists) is enough to send me running back to my village warung.
However, I get over myself and continue, because time has moved on and amongst the ubiquitous global brands there are some gems to be found on this famous road.
Today I’ve returned to Bitter Sweet, a place that describes itself as ‘café, concept, gallery’. A friend from Singapore invited me here for coffee recently and an got me hooked on the tasty treats in the desserts cabinet. Thanks Laura!
Bitter Sweet is a place where bohemian style bumps into antique collectibles before meeting up with connected cool.
The space is cleverly divided into a series of spaces each with its own signature.
My favourite space is on the right as you enter. A very long narrow table heaving with interesting artefacts new and old is the centre piece. A dozen or so old style chandeliers hanging over the entire length of the table frames the space, bringing your attention to the treasures below.
I feel like I’m exploring a flea market, without the dust. Every item is artfully placed, yet I feel free to pick each piece up. Traditional masks and statues sit alongside bohemian styled jewellery, decorative objects, and the occasional candle.
No one bothers you. There’s a price tag on every item. We’re not talking market prices here, you can satisfy yourself with a $30 purchase or give your credit card a hit for a special treasure.
Nothing matches. This is eclectic next level. Downstairs, art lazily leans against the walls, upstairs there’s a full on gallery.
The centre space is taken up by small collections of shoes, bags, hats, clothes and sleepwear along with glass cabinets filled with trinkets and jewellery. As I flick through gorgeous linen dungarees in the latest shade of turmeric, I make a mental note to return when I need a treat for myself.
Tucked away in a corner is a florist stall. If you have your heart set on a romantic occasion during your stay, this is the place to order a bouquet of roses, delivery included.
Chandeliers old and new sparkle throughout the spaces bringing a touch of glam without the opulence.
There’s a choice of places to eat, drink, chat, or connect with marble topped round tables for 2; comfy couches and wooden tables for 4; a design bench with high stools for a group.
I settle in to one of the small marble café tables. As I tap away I have a full length crystal chandelier twinkling by my side. My aptly named ‘detox’ juice of mint, ginger and lime is refreshingly icy, packing a tangy punch.
You can go solo and settle into the uber-cool booths by the front windows. Designed for coffee and online connectivity rather than chat, each one has power and just enough space for you and your devices.
The breakfast menu is on from 8.30am – 3pm. Eggs every way. Pancakes. Smoothie bowls. Dine on main meals from 11.30am – 9.30am. There’s some tasty small plates – Sate starters. Ahi Tuna Poke salad bowl. Pumpkin soup with coconut cream. Pasta is made from scratch in their kitchen. Prices $5-7. The mains are a selection of duck, barramundi, chicken, beef, and local tuna. Prices $10-17. Drool over the dessert cabinet filled with sweets, handmade in the Bitter Sweet kitchen. Drinks range from healthy juices to wine and beer.
Bitter Sweet is cool and spacious, the perfect escape when the heat and hum of Monkey Forest Road gets too much. It’s now on my list of places to indulge in design, dine or snack, and connect with ease. Message me if you’re town, we can meet over drinks and sweets!