Tucked away on Franklin Street and aimed more at the student than fine dining end of the market, Bali Bagus offers a reasonable range of simple but tasty Indonesian dishes.
Inside is uncluttered, with bare floors and plain tables. A few decorations and a water feature break up the industrial atmosphere a little, but it still feels like you're eating in a converted warehouse. On the plus side though it's well lit, relatively quiet and you aren't sitting in your neighbours lap when trying to eat.
The food was a mixed bag. The only dish I'd describe as disappointing though was the satay ayam (chicken satays). We'd ordered these as an entrée, as we were hungry and didn't want to wait until the other dishes were ready. However, while the satays gave the impression of being ready before the other dishes everything came out at the same time. Result - satays not as hot as they should have been.
Better were the three mains. The fried chilli prawns (Sambal Goreng Udang) were good, soft and juicy and reasonable in number. To be picky the sambal could have used more of a spicy kick to it, but then you're paying student café prices not restaurant.
The Ayam Penyet was juicy and tender. While nicely grilled chicken, again it was lacking a little something, in this case hints of smokiness from the grill.
My favourite though was the grilled fish - ikan bakar. The skin was dark and crispy on the outside, with white and tender flesh in the middle. Again not perfect, slightly overcooked so that the flesh could have been moister, but a perfectly acceptable version of a dish I like.
My overall impression is that there is a lot to like but maybe not a lot to love about Bali Bagus. The food is quite simple in style but it's also cheap, fast, tasty and non-pretentious. Add to this reasonably friendly service and most of the time that's probably all that most of us are looking for.
Food - 7
Ambience - 6.5
Service - 6.5
Price - 8
85 Franklin Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9662 1474