QuikSkoop™: Sea Circus

As weird as it may sound, Sea Circus is actually not a parade of dolphins jumping through the fire loops or walruses doing cute stuffs while shrieking like Wookiees. Even if it is a circus, it’s not even located directly by the beach! So, Sea Circus is actually a restaurant, a bar, and most of all for me, a third wave coffee bar.

Sea Circus is conveniently located between the sprawling hotels of Jalan Petitenget and the forever busy Jalan Kayu Aya around Seminyak vicinity. You cannot miss it since it attracts passersby from early morning for brekkie and for late night parties or even weddings! It’s not a huge café but it’s more like a sunny, breezy, and somehow an intimate café with a casual décor but surely not a shabby one. In terms of privacy, they have this separator between the porch, which caters smoking customers but also shelters them from the street with those classic ‘naco’ windows’, and the air-conditioned inner section which appear more laid back and quieter. But make no mistake however because at nights, they open the separator for parties and stuffs, so Sea Circus becomes a lively watering hole in the end!

By the time you came, you’d be greeted with warm smiles from the waitresses. Josh, the owner, is usually around and in time will visit your table and asking how you’re doing. Not only with smiles, the service was also done attentively and most of all, quick. Sea Circus may seem to be your typical santai santai bar but it doesn’t leave a room for bad service. Tables cleared in no time and that happens as well after you finished your drinks or dishes.

After a few miles of walking and searching, at times also in doubt about the direction, exposed to the hot weather, or in short, all those hazardous hardships, finally it’s a rewarding experience! The only downside was probably because we already had our lunch back at Warung Italia which was not bad actually, so with our bellies full then a cuppa would be fancy!

A good friend of mine once promoted this place as a must-visit. He even expressed it in candor as a place that presents ‘orgasmic and majestic black water’. Josh just smiled and said that it was too much for a compliment but by the time I tastes its cappuccino, then I understood completely about what my friend had said.

The cappuccino was presented beautifully with a cute blue cup that goes well with the bluish theme of Sea Circus. Alongside the cup, they usually put a unique quote and a frangipani but unfortunately they forgot to put the flower on mine that time. But that’s okay, since the cappuccino was truly incomparable with any cuppa I had even back at Jakarta. It was not served with a big cup, I have to admit, but the coffee worked well from any angle. Not only that it was born and bred from Kintamani plantation from a special nursery built by coffee experts from 5 Senses but also, they devise their resources well. It was well balanced in acidity, thick, with a hint of nutty flavor, and the velvety foam that tasted like chocolate. I was actually hoping for another cup but then again, one too many would not be good for the curiosity. As always, I keep a good reason to return back again here and definitely for more coffee and Sea Circus’ intriguing dishes.

Cappuccino

Before writing this I was even curious enough to study a bit from their website about their bountiful dishes and drinks, the way they present themselves not only as a café but also as a place more than that, and most of all about their program to cultivate their own coffee by cooperating with local farmers. Now that’s the interesting part of third wave coffee based on my study and largely owing to my expert barista friend back at Oh La La Jakarta, Mr Daniel Kauranny.

Everybody at this level is seeking for a higher aspiration in coffee tasting and I found that in most places, coffee is something taken for granted. It’s a waste that these beautiful beads turn into something unworthy or even inedible. Certainly not in Sea Circus, their appreciation for coffee is seemingly immense. Apart from growing their own coffee, they also held this occasional barista championship and other kinds of appreciation. In the end of course, these achievements are dedicated for the patrons and for us, coffee lovers!

It’s a simple equation in the end – a beautiful place, great service, Synesso machine, single origin Kintamani coffee, excellent barista. You know what the answer would be right?

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SEA CIRCUS

Halal-friendly (some of the menu contains pork and some beverages contain liquor)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Wi-fi available

Address: Jalan Kayu Aya (ex Jl. Laksamana or Jl. Oberoi) no. 22, Seminyak – Bali

Opening Hours: Daily, breakfast from 8 am – 4 pm; dinner from 4 pm – 10.30 pm; cocktails anytime until 1 am

RSVP: 0361 – 738 667

BB Pin: N/A

Email: N/A

Website: http://seacircus-bali.com

Facebook: Sea Circus Bali

Twitter: @SeaCircusBali

Atmosphere: A sunny, breezy cafe good with quiet afternoons and full of life at nights.

Ambiance: Conversational with good indie tunes like Joy Division and also, relaxing stuffs.

Service: Attentive, full of smile and swift.

Pricing: Around IDR 150,000 – IDR 300,000 for two or around IDR 25,000 for a cup of coffee.

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Pictures courtesy of Sea Circus, except for the cappuccino photo

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Restaurant Review: Otel Lobby (2012) [CLOSED]

Kunjungan pertama saya ke Otel Lobby di waktu malam mengesankan sebuah suasana yang intim sekaligus relaxing. Bila anda tidak keberatan dengan warna gelap yang menyelimutinya, tentu penampilan Otel Lobby tidaklah intimidatif. Lain halnya di waktu siang ketika panasnya Jakarta menyeruak, Otel Lobby tampil segar diterangi sinar mentari melalui jendela-jendela raksasanya.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad

Namun tentunya panasnya Jakarta tidak menghalangi saya dan siapapun yang tengah bersantap siang di sana atau sekadar menikmati panganan kue modern seperti red velvet cake dengan homemade blueberry ice cream. Tidak luput juga tentu berbagai pilihan minuman segar yang dapat kita pesan sesuai selera di luar menu. Konon sang mixologist Benjamin Browning yang sarat pengalaman memang handal dalam menciptakan berbagai kreasi baik untuk cocktail maupun mocktail.

From start to finish

Pada siang itu saya berkesempatan mencoba berbagai hidangan Otel Lobby yang terlihat simple namun kreatif memadukan berbagai unsur Barat maupun Timur. Sebagai pembuka saya menikmati kesegaran serta kelembutan tuna carpaccio yang dipadukan dengan saus jeruk serta Caesar salad dengan cabikan ikan bilis yang mengundang nafsu makan saya dengan rasa asin sekaligus gurih dari kejunya.

Beef Wellington serta steak & onion menjadi dua pilihan seru makan siang saya. Dengan temperatur tepat dan kualitas daging yang mumpuni menjadikan kedua masakan ini layak didaulat sebagai salah satu yang paling nikmat di Jakarta. Steak & onion terdiri dari rib eye seberat 250 gram yang begitu juicy di berbagai penjurunya dan begitu padan dengan sausnya. Bawang bombay yang meliputinya dagingnya serta onion ring besar yang mendampinginya juga terasa padu dan renyah.

Beef Wellington

Sementara beef Wellington yang mengingatkan pada menu yang paling sering dipesan di reality show Hell’s Kitchen dan memang bukan sebuah hidangan sembarangan. Lapisan roti yang lembut dan berisi berbagai rempah dan melindungi daging yang prima ini agar tetap moist dan juicy. Wonderful choices here!

Ruang untuk perbaikan

Tapi sayang bukan kepalang ketika saya hendak menikmati menu penutup. Perpaduan gemilang antara chocolate soufflé dan saus alpukat adalah suatu hal yang menyenangkan tetapi saya berharap akan sebuah soufflé yang benar-benar mengembang. Kritikan telah disampaikan dan janji perbaikanpun akan segera dilaksanakan.

Lemon and Pear Souffle

Sungguh sayang apabila hal-hal seperti ini merusak sebuah harmoni yang telah terbentuk dengan baik mengingat berbagai pencapaian yang sangat promising dimulai dari segi harga yang memadai, kualitas makanan yang baik, dan kegetolan dalam menelurkan ide-ide baru dalam masakannya. Tapi saya yakin segalanya akan menjadi lebih baik ke depannya.

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OTEL LOBBY

Halal-friendly (some of the menu contains pork and many beverages comprise of liquors)

Some menu suitable for vegetarians

Address: The Annex Building of Bakrie Tower, Epicentrum Kuningan, Jakarta

Opening Hours: 10 am – 11 pm

RSVP: 021 – 29941324

BB Pin: N/A

Email: N/A

Website: http://otellobby.com

Facebook: Otel Lobby

Twitter: @otellobby

Atmosphere: Intimacy during lonely nights, cheerful during the sunlight period.

Ambiance: Relaxing but music feels non-existent.

Service: Reliable but not without its flaws.

Pricing: Around IDR 200,000 – IDR 300,000 for two

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Pictures courtesy of Otel Lobby

Jean-Luc Chretien: Putting a foot wrong can be step on ladder of success (Jakarta Post – June 23, 2012)

Learning from mistakes is an inseparable part of achieving success. It is something Jean-Luc Chretien of Accor has gleaned from his career in the hospitality business.

“I learned a lot from experience because we don’t have the hotel anymore,” he said of the hotel group’s failure to develop its business in Thailand.

“We learned a lot in terms of pricing, how to work with local operators, choosing the right partners for distribution. From that we try not to do the same mistake twice.”

Accor opened its first hotel in Thailand in 1988, two years after Chretien joined Accor Resort as its marketing and sales director, but closed it abruptly.

Seasoned by the experience, he vowed not to make a second mistake twice in anything. He quoted one of his superiors in Accor who said: “You can always make a wrong decision but what you cannot do is to make the same one twice.”

Chretien, Accor’s executive vice president for sales, distribution and loyalty in Paris, was in Jakarta recently to inaugurate an Indonesian-language version of accorhotels.com.

He pronounced it one of his most memorable moments with the group because it has been a long journey to transform traditional distribution into something web based.

“It’s a very symbolic thing because we transformed e-commerce into a strategy beyond traditional languages and markets,” said the 54-year-old.

“Every time, every step that I take and every company that I work with, I become a part of the transformation process. Clearly my mission with Accor is to increase its capacity in distribution and to help develop new channels from e-commerce.”

He is self-effacing when asked to describe modern challenges in distribution.

“For me, the biggest challenge is the fact that I was not born in the Internet era,” he said disarmingly. “It’s like when I told my kids that TV used to be black and white and they didn’t believe me.”

He emphasizes the urgency of adapting to the changes through building a team of experts for optimal use of technology.

“The key to success in this is not simply about the website but about how you’re going to use it, to develop it, to create the traffic, to develop a partnership, etc…”. It also has been a learning process.

“We were not properly up for the challenge and we didn’t have the internal experts. We created a strong team for our website and in each country we recruited new people,” he explained.

“It’s a whole new management scheme in the hotel business since it requires so much expertise. But the people need to be looked after. We need to give them opportunities to develop themselves, otherwise they will sell themselves to somebody else.”

As a result of these focused efforts, his team has gained the trust of Accor hoteliers all over the world with unprecedented revenues.

“I try for my team as well for my company to be creative, but also to be very result-driven. We need to deliver the best results and to transform the way we do business,” he said.

When it comes to solving problems, he underscored the importance of listening to what people had to say and analyzing the situation first before deciding on a course of action.

“Because the worst thing you can do is to not to listen to what people tell you before making a decision. It’s not that you have to cope with everything they say, but you benefit from all the advice and then it’s your responsibility to make the decision.”

It’s all about teamwork in the end because, according to him, he will never become as good as the talented mix of people who work for him.

Multi nationals

Chretien’s career in the hospitality business dates back to 1986 when he started with Accor Resort as its marketing and sales director. A few years later he was appointed senior vice president for distribution for the Disneyland Resort Paris; after a series of distribution and marketing endeavors with high-profile companies in Europe, Chretien returned to Accor in 2007.

Chretien’s ability to work on an international scale and to manage people from different nations and cultures probably also stems from the diversity in his family.

He and his wife, who is from New Zealand, adopted children from Cambodia and now they all reside in France. From the state of his family, he feels the world is now open to new things in many aspects of life.

While his job takes him all around the globe, he has also short-listed his dream places to vacation.

He picked Monument Valley near the Grand Canyon in the US as the best spot because he is fond of cowboy movies. Next up is Luxor in Egypt, New Zealand and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

“That’s it. I have to stop there because I hope the fifth place will be Bali,” he said cheerfully.

Although it’s a rare treat for him to visit Southeast Asia, he wishes to see more of the country, learn about its many cultures and work for the betterment of its people.

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Name: Jean-Luc Chretien

Age: 54

Experience:

Jan 2011 – present: EVP Sales, Distribution & Loyalty, Accor Paris Area, France

June 2009 – April 2012: EVP Marketing & Distribution, Accor Hospitality

Oct. 2007 – June 2009: EVP Distribution and Sales, Accor Hospitality

Feb. 2005 – Oct. 2007: Administrator, Rail Europe Group

Feb. 2005 – Oct. 2007: Director, International Distribution, SNCF – French Railways

May 2001 – Nov. 2004: SVP Sales and Marketing, Pierre & Vacances Tourisme

Nov. 1992 – April 2001: SVP Distribution, Disneyland Resort Paris

Jan. 1986 – Oct. 1992: Director Sales and Marketing, Accor Resort Hotels Division

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– Featured in Jakarta Post on June 23, 2012 – 

Restaurant Review: Super Steak (Kabare, June 2012)

Sensasi Daging Panggang Ala Super Steak

Acapkali sebuah pengalaman hidup di mancanegara ternyata membuka wawasan dan menghasilkan berbagai ide menarik sekembalinya ke tanah air. Itulah asal muasal Super Steak, sebuah restoran keluarga dengan ciri khas tersendiri ketimbang steakhouse pada umumnya.

Seorang Windu Mashud dibesarkan oleh keluarga yang memiliki kecintaan terhadap makanan khususnya terhadap masakan daging panggang dari Amerika Serikat yang lazim kita sebut dengan steak. Tentu di jaman sekarang ini semakin banyak orang yang memiliki minat serupa namun bagi Windu rasa cinta ini ia tuangkan menjadi sebuah bentuk aspirasi yang nyata.

Berbekal pengalaman kuliah di Amerika Serikat, ia menyaksikan betapa luasnya variasi dari masakan yang berbahan dasar utama ‘hanya’ sebuah daging sapi yang dipotong dan dipanggang ini. Sekembalinya ke tanah air, ternyata beliau menyadari bahwa tidak cukup bila hanya bersaing dengan cara yang sama. Dari sinilah beliau menciptakan sebuah konsep bahwa sebuah steakhouse  tidak hanya harus menyajikan daging berkualitas namun juga berbagai saus yang orisinil dan unik. Setidaknya begitulah cerita sang ayah dari Windu sekaligus sang PR dari restoran rumahan ini yang tampil santai dan menyapa setiap pengunjungnya dengan hangat.

Reserve your meat first!

Bila memulai dari awal, saya sendiri saja cukup terkejut dengan penampilan Super Steak. Halaman depan rumah dimodifikasi menjadi restoran sederhana yang terletak di dalam sebuah kompleks perumahan yang tenang dan diteduhi hehijauan. Berlokasi di Jalan Dempo – Kebayoran Baru, siapa yang akan menyangka akan adanya sebuah steakhouse yang tengah meniti jalan menuju popularitas hanya dengan promosi dari mulut ke mulut?

Selain itu calon pengunjung tidak hanya harus memesan tempat duduk sebelumnya namun juga disarankan untuk memesan dagingnya terlebih dahulu karena stok dan pilihannya terbilang terbatas serta dibanderol dengan harga yang cukup mahal mengingat standar kualitasnya. Pilihan daging sapi lokal serta Australian Black Angus Beef tersedia serta masing-masing untuk bagian tenderloin, sirloin, dan ribs.

Bagian berikutnya yang paling seru adalah tentu pemilihan saus bagi steak-nya. Sebaiknya lupakan trio saus standar yaitu BBQ, mushroom, dan black pepper karena di Super Steak sama sekali tidak tersedia. Keluar dari jalurnya adalah saus-saus hasil racikan Windu seperti butter garlicCajun delight, honey herbs, lemon herbs, Asian delight, dan lain-lain.

Keunikan daging dan saus khasnya

Betapa mengejutkan ketika mendapati sirloin Black Angus yang saya pesan tampil cantik dengan taburan bawang putih goreng yang diiris tipis-tipis dan memenuhi bagian atas steak tersebut. Rasanya seperti percampuran gurihnya mentega dengan kerenyahan dan rasa khas dari bawang putih. Tentunya tidak mau kalah, daging sirloin yang bertemperatur medium terasa kaya dengan rasa dan jus yang senantiasa mengalir di setiap potongannya. Pendampingnya berupa french fries dari kentang yang berasal dari pegunungan Dieng, masih disisakan kulitnya dan terasa gurih setelah dibumbui dengan pas.

Tenderloin steak yang berasal dari daging sapi lokal juga tampil impresif. Dengan warna kemerahan seksi dan kelembutan yang luar biasa, rasa tenderloin ini semakin memesona dengan lumuran bumbu pedas ala Cajun dengan segarnya jeruk lemon.  Rasanya begitu menantang lidah yang terkoyak di antara kenikmatan serta rasa pedas. Beruntung tingkat kepedasan tersebut bisa diatur sesuai keinginan kita.

Perhatian para pemiliknya

Di tengah kegemilangan masakannya, tetap patut dicatat mengenai servis yang terkadang agak terlambat dan menguji kesabaran para pengunjungnya. Beruntung perhatian dari para pemiliknya yang senantiasa perhatian cukup bisa mengobati beberapa kekurangan dari servis di Super Steak ini.

Selain itu kondisi dari restoran halamanpun tidak lepas dari gangguan seperti gigitan nyamuk, udara panas lembab Jakarta di malam hari dan resiko terekspos oleh hujan. Hanya dengan bermodalkan kesungguhan, kecintaan, dan rasa penasaran terhadap makananlah yang justru akan melawan itu semua. Semoga saja anda yakin dan beruntung seperti saya yang telah melewati semua itu dengan baik dan dihadiahi dengan hidangan yang tidak terlupakan.

Sungguh sebuah penampilan ciamik dari pendatang yang relatif baru ini. Meskipun berawal dari tampil rumahan, belakangan Super Steak juga sudah singgah di mall Living World Tangerang. Bukan tidak mungkin juga dengan konsistensi serta passion para pemiliknya, Super Steak bisa saja menyaingi Holycow Steak yang sudah lebih dulu menjajal hingga sejauh negeri Singapura. Namun apakah ambisinya hingga sejauh itu? Marilah kita nantikan bersama.

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SUPER STEAK
Halal-friendly (some using imported beef and a choice of sauce contains beer)
Unsuitable for vegans

Address: Jl. Dempo I no. 76, Jakarta

Opening Hours: 5 pm – 11 pm

RSVP: 0817 639 6255 / 0817 633 2100

BB Pin: 218021FD

Email: N/A

Website: N/A

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Super-Steak/223985570968401

Twitter: @SUPER_STEAK

Atmosphere: Quiet neighborhood and possibility of mosquito bites and rain.

Ambiance: Relaxing.

Service: Tend to be slow at times and don’t hesitate to express your needs.

Pricing: Around IDR 200,000 – IDR 400,000 for two.

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Featured in Kabare (June 2012)

Pictures courtesy of Super Steak

Five Juiciest Steakhouses in Jakarta (Hang Out Jakarta, May 2012)

Steak! Who doesn’t love it? Steak adalah esensi paling murni dari kenikmatan menyantap daging. You can make any kind of dishes from meat but nothing can beat the simplicity of enjoying it as in steak! Make it medium-rare, medium-well or even well-done from any juicy parts of the cow, semuanya pasti masih asyik untuk disantap.

So without further due, note these joints and check ‘em all out!

1.       HOLYCOW STEAK

Easily one of the most famous steakhouses in Jakarta. Memulai usahanya dengan sederhana di Radio Dalam, namun berkat racikan steak-nya yang sedap dan popularitasnya kini Holycow kini telah memiliki cabang hingga di Singapura. Menu favoritnya tentu Buddy’s Combo yang tidak hanya lezat tapi juga affordable for your date. And the rest? All those ‘wagyulicious’ stuffs!

–          Jl. Bakti no. 15 // (021) 527 0673

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2.       MIRANDA (D/H TAN GOEI)

Miranda may not really be a steakhouse but it’s a ‘bestik’ legend in Jakarta. Restoran yang sudah berdekade-dekade bertahan ini tetap memertahankan suasana jadul yang kental dengan iringan organ solonya dan restoran berinterior gaya film-film yang biasa kita tonton dari dekade 1980an. Menunya berkisar antara bestik sapi, ayam, udang, hingga beef schnitzel yang menggunakan saus rahasia warisan turun-temurun yang khas dan gurih!

Jl. Besuki 1A // (021) 314 0829

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3.       Q SMOKEHOUSE

Cukup jarang untuk pemain lokal bermain di arena smoked meat and grills at the same time. Meskipun pemain lama, Q Smokehouse adalah your one-stop spot yang paling cocok untuk menikmati smoked and grilled beef brisket yang lembut, lumer, dan gurih dengan imbasan nikmat pedas dari cabe jalapeño. Jangan lupa juga untuk mencoba Mexican parade di Q Smokehouse dengan trio grills of beef, chicken and shrimps bersama sour cream, guacamole, dan salsa sebagai isian fajitas kamu. Holy smoky!

–          Setiabudi One, Unit I – 156, Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 62 // (021) 520 7078

–          Jl. Suryo no. 20 // (021) 723 5728

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4.       SINOU STEAK

We vouch for Sinou Steak in one of our past editions dan tidak ada alasan untuk mengecualikannya juga di sini. Affordable, juicy, and no fuss. Get your short ribs, rump steak or bolar blade steak done, pilih sidedishes yang seru, dan jangan lupa tambah Sinou sauce yang legendaris untuk steak kamu. Seperti apa rasanya? You gotta find it out by yourself.

Jl. Senopati Raya no. 35 // 021 – 521 3011

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5.       SUPER STEAK

Sebelum go public ke Living World keberadaan Super Steak benar-benar seperti mitos yang diceritakan mouth-to-mouth saja. Selain menggunakan daging Black Angus yang prima, Super Steak juga berinovasi dengan menciptakan saus-saus baru seperti butter & garlic, lemon herbs, beer, dan lain-lain. That does intriguing, right?

–          Jl. Dempo I no. 76 // 0817 639 6255

–          Living World, Alam Sutera Boulevard Kav. 21 (will soon move to Senayan City, TBA)

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-Featured in HANG OUT JAKARTA May 2012 edition-