Aksara and Canteen has always been a cool tag team. Whenever you wish for good books at a relatively competitive price (amongst all these rackets of imported bookstores in Jakarta) plus a bit of eclectic music and backstreet genres, Aksara would be the right place.
I have been a quite loyal patronage of Aksara for new books. Of course, being a prudent buyer, I always give myself an opportunity to circle around the competitors, do my homework, and pick up the one who offers the best price. Aksara maintains its credibility within my heart with such ability. Up until this time, however, I never had the opportunity to visit the Kemang branch, but I always fancy myself with the visits to Pacific Place and Plaza Indonesia.
Now now, back to food. My very specialty. I visited this place twice and I gotta give them quite a good remark for the food. So come along Canteen in Pacific Place. But before that I gotta tell you something about this. Unless you have noticed, you should recognize the true beauty of bookstores in this modern age. Imagine the past where the great libraries packed with oak racks, big old intimidating books, gloomy atmosphere, dominated by the brownish color and smell like nobody ever clean the dust for centuries, and filled with librarians and people who are notably.. Nerdy and grim.
Now cast aside those!!! And look at the realities of today, of tomorrow, and of the future! It’s true that some libraries still possess that kind of eerie looks, but the bookstores now are setting the pace and the trend. Which I hope that future libraries will also adopt the good looks and the friendliness even to those who don’t fancy reading! Now look at Aksara here for instance, the one in Pacific Place feels like home. Also adopting the same interior concept, the Plaza Indonesia branch introduces a homey design with more woods and a big rug in the middle of the shop. Though somehow smaller but more comfortable for me, save the crowd though.
Okay, that would be enough librarian talks. I’ll create one section later for bookstores comparison study, but now let’s head back for a lunch at Canteen, the faithful neighbour of Aksara and the whole package about how a bookstore these days should run -> Combine it with a cafe!! And in this case, Canteen has the more wine and dine type rather than just a canteen or a cafe. Judging from the name, a canteen should provide cheap foods right? But not this one people. I don’t know whether Aksara management decided to name it Canteen for this purpose of attracting people into a belief that this place would offer cheap price. It does provide coffee like any other coffee bar with competing price tags but wait a second people, if a cafe resides in a mall then it won’t be cheap anymore. Trust me. Especially the ones in Jakarta malls!
But then again, this type of challenge has always been my appetite for risk. The risk to spend. That’s what most people are lacking. Are you? Haha.. That’s a challenge!
So let me spare you from doing a trial-and-error experiment, and read this out loud to your friends -> This place is OKAY, you can go and try it.
Why? I’ll tell you why. First, you gotta comprehend that if I say it’s GOOD, then it’s good. But if it’s OKAY, there are still some flaws but you’re okay to go. So turns out that this place is in the OKAY category. I’m bringing you a simple categorization for culinary critics because most people only say that, ‘XXX is a good restaurant, ZZZ doesn’t serve a tasty food’ and so on. The thing is, most people wouldn’t bother to do that or… but mostly and, of course, unable to do a comprehensive judging.
Now, let’s start. From the decoration and interior judging first. I’d say this place gives you the comfort through the lighting. No wonder, for places who adopt wine and dine genre, certain level of elegance must be applied. You wouldn’t wanna sit drinking wine and or eating good food in a fast food kind of place right? As for Canteen who neighbours Aksara, the theme would be clearly stated here, it’s not a kind of kantin you usually reckon (that’s why I don’t know why they named it Canteen), it should be a cozy enough for someone who might me hungry after buying several interesting books. You might wanna lean on a bit over a cup of tea or coffee but certainly in the right place. Sure you can go to Starbucks or any other coffee bars around the hood in Pacific Place, but Canteen already offers you the right atmosphere. First, from the calm lighting, second from the cozy couches they have, and third, of course, the music. These elements blend in naturally and you gotta agree with this right? Though this place doesn’t offer the perfect blend, but I would still recommend it.
Now, let’s go right on to the food. During my first visit, I picked the cheapest dish there (beside the pasta) and that was Chicken Mushroom (IDR 55,000), my partner picked Creamy Fusilli (IDR 55,000). The Chicken Mushroom was not that good, I mean it may look nice but I didn’t really agree with the taste. It was not special, it’s like a chicken cordon bleu filled with mushrooms plus the not-so-special mashed potato too. But the pasta my partner picked was great! It was thick, very succulent, topped with all-you-can-add parmesan, and unforgiving. She can’t even make it through the whole portion so I gotta help her.
The second visit there was because of something intriguing. I realized during my first visit that they have this brunch menu, but it was pretty careless of me to had neglected it. So when that time comes, it’s payback time! Intrigued by a certain foreigner who had ordered this dish, then I picked Big Breakfast (IDR 65,000) right away. My conservative partner chose the pasta again, a bit intriguing though, it’s Penne Arabbiata with crabs (IDR 55,000). So now you can measure a bit about the food price tag there.
The Big Breakfast itself came with free Carlsberg beer, in which I already ordered myself another drink before they let me know they have the promotion. I didn’t read about it in the menu (unless they really stated it there), but the fact that they forgot to remind me about it actually can cost other customers more than they should have. Lucky for them I don’t drink, so then I returned the chilled beer bottle back. Anyway, the composition for the Big Breakfast was quite similar like the ordinary English Breakfast. It’s big, of course, and contains many things like bacon, eggs (you can pick any style, I chose scrambled eggs), baked tomato, tatters, and halal version of English Breakfast ‘accessories’. The Penne Arabbiata was quite okay, but not that satisfying judging that during our first visit here the pasta was very delicious. However, it’s still a decent pick anyway.
For the drinks, well.. we had our coffee, tea, and distilled water. Nothing too special, but the place was comfy enough for a good chat over coffee or something warm. You can also enjoy the free wi-fi. So it’s your pick, whether you just want to enjoy yourself surfing the net and sipping your favorite coffee, gossiping with your friends at a nice place, or a relaxing dine out with your partner, you can always pick Canteen for that. Perhaps they do need to change the name. Let’s say.. Bistro, Food Court, Cafe, or anything bland. Ahahaha.. Just kidding.
The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):
1. PRICE (4/10)
GT = (Principle Price + (Principle Price x Service Tax)) x Restaurant Tax
– Service Tax = 10% (They even forgot to offer the free beer, this is outrageous!!)
– Grand Total = IDR 176,660 (2 people, first visit), IDR 193,600 (2 people, 2nd visit)
2. INTERIOR (8/10)
I like the design. The lighting makes you comfy, also they got these sofa in Pacific Place to make it cozier, and they design the interior neatly. The one in Plaza Indonesia also seem nice.
3. SERVICE (4/10)
For a 10% service charge, they provide lousy service by forgetting to mention the beer promotion, they dressed up unfashionably, but some of them were also helpful. But still overall, not good..
4. TASTE (7/10)
To save the humiliation for the service department, the kitchen provides good food with a decent taste.
5. OVERALL (5.75/10)
Location : Pacific Place and Plaza Indonesia – Jakarta