In the shore side village of Canggu, where Batu Bolong dips towards Old Man’s Beach, stands Fishbone Local – a contemporary eatery and bar that captures the seaside state of mind.
Just a short stroll up from the waves, the restaurant has a clear focus: simple, precise preparations of the finest and freshest seafood available. The market list menu rotates daily, taking its cues from Balinese beachside barbeque, but calls upon other coastal cultures for inspiration too. One day you may find pan-seared barramundi with sambal alongside a Vietnamese-style slaw or a bowl of edamame, while the next may offer beer-battered fish and chips, swordfish tikka skewers or a tuna poke.
As for the drinks, the bar keeps things short and sharp with a compact list of beer and wine, but the cocktails play a leading role. No-nonsense takes on timeless classics are the name of the game, trading minimal sugar for maximum refreshment. Native ingredients like kaffir lime, pandan, and pomelo bring new life to spritzes, gimlets, Marys and Margaritas, while soft drinks, young coconuts and kombucha are also on offer.
At the very heart of Fishbone Local’s ethos lies a commitment to stewardship and fair trade. The restaurant has partnered with Bali Sustainable Seafood, a social enterprise company based in Denpasar, to not only minimise the ecological impact on our oceans, but to also ensure the economic livelihood of local fishermen and their communities through improving market access and development.
Sustainability seeps into the dining room’s sleek design as well. Recycled materials accent the 100-seat restaurant, whether it’s the timber tabletops, fishing net menu baskets or repurposed crab trap light fixtures. Much like the food, the whitewashed walls, raw concrete, exposed brick and generous outdoor area reflect the natural surrounds with an effortless, casual elegance.
Fishbone Local is the first of several planned projects for Brett Hospitality Group – a Bali-based joint venture between founder and restaurateur Dominique Brett, hospitality veteran Isabella Rowell, and venue developer Brant Bauer. On holiday in 2009, Rowell was shown the ins and outs of Bali’s burgeoning food scene by Benjamin Cross, the executive chef of Seminyak’s Ku De Ta and Mejakawi. The two became fast friends and often joked about opening a beachside seafood shack one day. Nine years later Cross and Rowell’s dream is a reality.
Rowell’s impressive track record spans nearly 15 years, covering every front-of-house role imaginable alongside some of Australia and Indonesia’s most recognised operators. Most recently, she opened outposts for Maurice Terzini’s illustrious Icebergs Group, including Seminyak hotspot Da Maria, as well as Bondi Beach Public Bar, in Sydney. “I’ve always loved beach barbeque,” she says, “and I jumped at the chance to bring a fresh aesthetic and perspective to a style of eating that never gets old, especially in Bali.”
It’s a resistance to trends and an unwavering dedication to simple things done by experienced people who care, that sets Fishbone Local apart, and it’s an attitude that welcomes all walks of life, be it vacationing families with children, barefoot beachcombers on the hunt for a post-surf snack, or locals looking for a sundowner after a hard day’s work.