The Best New Bar in Bali

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Courtesy of Potato Head Beach Club

Sunset drinks in Bali were for many years synonymous with Ku De Ta, the Seminyak bar-restaurant that has been a favorite of the international party crowd since its opening a decade ago. That's changing, however, with the surging cachet of the six-month-old Potato Head Beach Club, tel: (62-361) 737 979, an offshoot of the trendy Jakarta bar-bistro.

Tucked behind a vast wall of thousands of antique shutters salvaged from colonial-era buildings, Potato Head towers over Kuta Beach. And if the exterior looks a bit like a tropical teak Colosseum, that's no accident. The Roman ruin is an obsession of Potato Head's co-owner Ronald Akili, who has visited it eight times.

Although you might think the shutter wall has a practical purpose — keeping rain out and sound in, perhaps — the owners say that it was simply born of a desire to "create something original." The shape of the building, on the other hand, does fulfill the useful function of maximizing sea views. "Every level is focused at the ocean horizon," Akili explains.

Being of aesthetic bent — Akili is an avid art collector and business partner Jason Gunawan an admirer of midcentury modern furniture — Potato Head's founders saw no reason to seek advice when it came to the look of the venue. "We didn't hire any designers because we wanted to show our character," Akili says. Featuring pieces from the pair's trove of 1950s Scandinavian and Indonesian furniture, and Southeast Asian artworks, the club looks as hip and as laid-back as its 30-year-old owners.

Both bristle at comparisons to Ku De Ta and say they're out to create the kind of club that offers more than drinking and DJs. Organic-produce markets and mini film festivals are all part of the program for this colossal amphitheater. Decadent gladiatorial entertainments, however, are not.