When it comes to affordable but gourmet culinary affairs, Canggu never fails to outdo itself. We’ve heard this place referred to as the ‘Food Capital of the World’ and, sure, that’s a little ambitious, but name somewhere with a more diverse and accessible spread… You can’t. Berawa’s latest addition, Alma, will make any sceptic a believer in the magic that is being a hungry-human on this island. This time, we’re transporting you to a small, traditionally-styled bar in the south of Spain (well, actually, it’s just Jl. Pantai Berawa) and indulging you in some of the best appetisers la region de Europa has to offer.
Alma plates up tapas but don’t get it twisted, this place will fill you to the brim. If you’re a re’GUlar reader you’ll have noticed we like to set the scene before describing the eats. On this occasion, we’re going to jump straight into the food so that we can relive the experience sooner ourselves.
We’ll begin with the cheese. Order it in as many varieties as you can fit – cow, goat, soft, hard, local, import. It comes served on a board with the most delectable toasted bread you can imagine (think: toasted sambo spec) and in generous chunks. The cured hams and cold cuts all hail from Spain so if you’ve got a hankering for something salty then this place is your refuge. From the aged ham of an acorn-fed Iberian pig to the cheese of a sheep who grew up in La Mancha, Spain, Alma knows how to switch the palette on.
Since we’re there, why not an aperitif to kick things off as well? The Spaniards will often spend an entire evening drinking only vermouth, with various flavourful additions like cinnamon and orange, or olives and rind. Of course, you can do as the Spaniards do or you can do you, boo, but with Alma’s house cocktail list you may want to save some space for the other well-thought-out liquid God sends. Alma infuses its own gin so… that’s a thing. But if it’s not your thing then keep those eyes peeled for unique flavours like lavender, paprika, osmanthus (devilflower), pineapple tepache and traditional Balinese rice liqueur dotted throughout their extensive list.
Alma also possesses an impressive range of spirits, all of which can come as-are or in pre-suggested gin concoctions (with their house infused). If you’re more of a wine-whilst-you-dine type, the grapes list boasts drops from France, South Africa, Spain, New Zealand and Argentina by the bottle, and Chilean and Aussie numbers by glass. If you’re only out for a drink, Alma is still a great place to land. Its cosy, eclectic decor exudes a social vibe and makes it the perfect location for dates or small groups in need of thirst quenchers. Although, we highly doubt you’ll be able to look past the tapas…
The main event is broken into three categories – from the land, from the sea, and from the garden – and the quality of options far outweigh the quantity. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it any easier to choose given how mouth-watering everything looks. Best of luck with the pronunciation if you haven’t a native Spanish speaker at the table. Try to think of stumbling your way through the order as a warm up for the mouth gymnastics to come.
The focus of Alma’s menu isn’t to do anything super unique or earth-shattering (although the smoked tartars and truffle croquetas are worth noting). Instead, their aim is to zoom in on the feel-good factor of the food. The place has a warm ambiance to it and so too do its meals. Nothing is overly experimental, yet every dish has the kind of distinct detail that makes you think, “would it be so bad to order a second serving, or should we try something different?” It was hard to pick favs among us gals but there seemed a resounding silence when the honey glazed chicken wings came out (followed by a, “um, can we have another of these?”). That’s usually a good sign.
Alma’s decorative component is rustic and traditional, but there are elements that have been quite obviously repurposed to look modern. The cathedral-esque arches and hand painted tiles are reminiscent of an old European design standard, but the backlit bar and funky chairs let you know you’re still in the 21st century. Oh, and the mini fountain towards the back of the venue? That triples as a wishing well and tranquil sound feature, too.
Alma is simple in its concept but highly impressive. It is effortlessly boujie but with a reasonable price point for the quality on offer. If Alma means soul in Spanish, consider us already soul-ed.