Java Bleu is one among the small, exclusive ranks of French restaurants in Jakarta but the very existence of it remains somewhat secluded and hidden although after almost a decade after its establishment.
Arrayed in Indonesian traditional batik shirt, Chef Antoine Audran the proprietor of Java Bleu, seemed to be relaxed about the fact. He’s not worry that Java Bleu may sound like a fabled French cuisine haven underneath the vastness of Jakarta.
‘Because that serves the purpose that only those who can truly understand and appreciate true French food will see through the disguise’, exclaimed Mr. Audran.
That feels like that only people with Jedi senses who can find the place. It’s not that hard actually. Reputation speaks, in my case here.
But then the fatal attraction should be because of the love for food. So what about them? Here goes.
Mr. Audran’s personal selections for our feast that night started and ended in trio of appetizers, entrées, and desserts. I asked the manager, Michael, about the ingredients and everything the chef’s got inside his sleeves. ‘The chef only picks the best and he ensures the freshness of every little aspect in his dishes’.
Sounds promising and indeed, the starters looked fantastic when they arrived.
First, half dozen imported snails baked and blanketed with garlic, herbs, and butter served upon a plat a escargot will quickly caught anybody’s attention. It’s the legendary escargot, ladies and gentlemen! Eye catching, unique, and dark but once you dig in, straight or with the accompaniment of warm Brioche bread rolls, thou shalt be amazed! The solid team performance between the rich butter and the snails were very special and too memorable to be forgotten.
The mushroom soup was also the star of the opening show. The finely blended seasonal field and forest mushrooms made into soup and laced with fresh cream was just too extraordinary. It was very flavorful and mild. Add the Brioche bread rolls with the mushroom soup for more life. ‘It’s groovy!’ remarked a company of mine that night.
To complete the trio appetizer fares masterpiece, Mr. Audran demonstrated how to make a great Quiche. It’s not all about the cheese or the meat, but it’s the balance. The soft crust, the mushroom, and the cheese were so harmonious and there’s not even a trace of meat to be found! It’s not the usual Lorraine or Alsatian, but it was Quiche Forestiere a la Java Bleu with Mesclun salad as the sidekick.
Mr. Audran successfully implemented the purpose of a starter itself. As an appetizer, a teaser for the next course! Felt like our stomachs emptied already and ready to ravish whatever comes next.
Then come along the entrées. First of all, a slowly cooked fillet of Barramundi (sea bass) caught fresh from the waters of Papua New Guinea served on a beautiful bed of Basquaise sauce. Paired with the oyster mushrooms, dried shrimps, baby potatoes in Persillade, and basked by something unusual, the genuine creation of Mr. Audran that finished the puzzle of the French cuisine fish dish with ingredients from all over the world by only with simple fragments of crackers! Starting from its majestic appearance, the supreme taste, and ended as a successful design of ‘unity in diversity’ concept.
Also, Mr. Audran generously introduced me the new entrée dish. Half organic chicken grilled to golden perfection with mixed pepper corn gravy and herbs. The chicken was fantastic and you won’t have to bother dirtying your hands eating it. It was crisp and savory. To make it even flawless, Mr. Audran added the magical potato gratin alongside the water cress salad. Be sure to check it out once available.
We were also served an entrecôte dish using the Australian beef Black Angus grade grilled to the medium-well level. The entrecôte was a bit tough and as the consequence may vary because mostly here, people prefer tender ones better. That was okay for me though quite unfortunate that I can only felt small amount of juice coming out of the beef. It’s a special dish to be exact, especially if you can comprehend the effort of how Mr. Audran personally created the Java Bleu sauce only for this dish in the first place and even pick the potatoes directly from France.
It was already almost two hours of pleasant encounters with great dishes and now it’s time for the desserts.
Legend has it that a certain friend of mine had told me about mythical dessert dish in Java Bleu and Mr. Audran generously recreated it for us. Washed in chocolate sauce, the coffee and vanilla profiteroles appear indomitably impressive. It’s ‘bittersweet’ in a good way. You’ll feel the good bitterness of coffee, the thick chocolate, and the balanced sweetness of vanilla ice cream flavor.
The rest of the dishes were also dominated by the presence of the homemade vanilla ice cream. Mr. Audran remarked that the French love vanilla ice cream and to my own personal preference, I agreed wholeheartedly.
So prepare yourself if you’re hoping for a light, fruity kind of desserts, expect Java Bleu to offer you almost none. If there was any, it’s probably only the peach or apple tarts that receive a sweet ending soaked under the glorious vanilla ice cream and sauce.
I have to happily admit that the rest of the dessert fares were also top notch especially the black and white chocolate melt. The peach tart and vanilla ice cream was lighter and simpler compared to this one and the majestic profiteroles, but you’ve got to see the big picture. Every element was blended carefully and Mr. Audran’s effort to consider all these aspects was to be applauded and appreciated.
Java Bleu might not be the usual French restaurant you might imagine, the glamorous and formal archetype. On the other hand, Java Bleu appears simple, modest and honest with the hearty dishes crafted by a man who’s truly passionate about food.
With decades of experience, Mr. Audran knows how to balance everything. That is to maintain the standard, ingenuity, and the authenticity of French cuisine, while keeping up with the aesthetics and balance. Also not forgetting to cope in somewhere between local taste and the expectations of the homecoming feelings of expats coming in to his good place. That night, he did it again.
So schedule your dinner. Dress a bit relaxed and expect to be indulged by hearty and stylish full course French dishes! Make it an early dinner because it’s going to take hours of a gleeful celebration. Rejoice each and every minute of it here, in Java Bleu.
Jalan Cikini Raya no. 15, Jakarta – Indonesia
RSVP : 021 – 314 45 45
Chef: Antoine Audran
Halal Meter: No pork, no lard, no alcohol in the dishes but meats and poultry are imported except for the chicken.
Ambience & Interior: A shabbily decorated colonial era building, though eerily gives a certain degree of comfort. Thanks also to the jazzy tunes they play, if not you may think it’s a horror movie scene manipulated with a beautiful entrance of stairs to the second floor.
Service: Waiters and waitresses uniquely dressed in batik but some with troubles on spelling the dishes name and definitely not a tourism school artificially mannered graduates though helpful nonetheless. The manager on duty will immensely help you for any assistance you might need and will ensure that everything’s okay to the contentment of heart.
Pricing: Appetizers IDR 35,000-IDR 83,000; Entrées IDR 79,000-IDR 160,000; Pastas & Sandwiches IDR 55,000-IDR 78,000; Desserts IDR 20,000-IDR 39,000.
Recommended Dishes: Baked Escargots ‘Burgundy’ style and Cream field mushrooms soup served with Brioche bread rolls, Fillet of Barramundi Fish ‘Basquaise’ – Sauteed ‘Pleurottes’ mushrooms with dry shrimps – Baby potatoes in‘Persillade’, Black & White Chocolate Melt with vanilla ice cream.
Reservation: Not required, but if want to make it safe due to Java Bleu small space, best to RSVP then.
Operating Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11 AM to 10 PM
Payment Methods: Cash, Debit Cards, Credit Cards
-As seen in Aquila Asia Sep-Oct 2010 Edition (unedited)-
-Photos courtesy of Saesarez Novandito, Sandy Tjahja and Aquila Asia Magazine-