Two years ago, the Bali Hai reopened after extensive renovation by local architect Graham Downes, who restored the traditional Polynesian-inspired 1950s structure and beloved tikis while incorporating sleek 21st century design elements that open the interior and bring inside the tropically landscaped grounds.
“The community has great affection for this harbor landmark,” said Downes. “The Bali Hai is like a house you’ve lived in your whole life. Patrons want that hominess and comfortable familiarity. We strived to maintain that pride and history while contemporizing and freshening the environment.”
The renovation included an updated event pavilion, along with a tropically landscaped alcove ideal for weddings and other outdoor events.
Accompanying the architectural changes is a frequently updated menu focusing on tropically inspired Pacific Rim cuisine. If you’re looking for old Bali Hai favorites like coconut shrimp, ahi poke and crab rangoon, you’ll still find them. But expect to discover new twists on familiar themes, like the Hawaiian tuna poke stack, melt-in-your-mouth seared crispy ahi tuna tower, fork-tender char siu pork tenderloin and, for dessert, the chocolate coconut cream topped with crystallized ginger.
“Our menus will now change frequently, depending on what is freshly caught and available from local farms, markets and suppliers,” said Larry Baumann, co-owner with wife Susie, whose father founded the waterfront icon. The Bali Hai opened originally in 1955 as Shelter Island’s first “tiki temple” and was named after the popular song from the musical “South Pacific.”
A new feature is progressive pricing for happy hour, which runs from 3 to
6 p.m. The Bai Hai is located at
2230 Shelter Island Drive. For more information, call (619) 222-1181, or visit www.baliairestaurant.com.