Restaurant Review: Chili’s

If it wasn’t because of Michael’s favorite place in the American TV serial The Office, I wouldn’t have any idea about this place existence other than the huge billboard right on the top of the old Sarinah Building shopping mall in Jakarta. There were numerous scenes taken place here in the serial so I figured that this place must be quite popular back there in USA. When we arrived there though, the place seemed to be quite old but it was neat and quite freezing so you’d best wear something warm. I don’t know why they don’t seem to make an attempt to expand it like other American brands you can find easily here.

My last visit took place some time ago, so I’m scraping through the remnants of my old memory. I’m planning to visit the place again soon in the near future because this very experience was very worth remembering! And I shall tell you why. In the menu, we can now finally recognize what theme this restaurant brings. Perhaps at some point you’d think that this place only serve steaks but that’s not all, Chili’s combines the Western cuisine notably American with Mexican. The most obvious place where the two cultures met can be seen around the states of Texas, New Mexico, and California. This fusion genre is famously called Tex-Mex cuisine that of course stands for Texan-Mexican. You can refresh your geography lessons back then to find out where they blend. LOL

Among all the unusual Tex-Mex dishes you may find there, I finally made up my mind to combine several perks in one dishes. Yes! It’s the Combo Fajitas (IDR 115,900). It’s expensive I know, but here you can try beef and chicken at one time. Seemed to be very tempting if you see the picture. On the other hand, my dear partner picked the more conservative dish which was called Margarita Chicken (IDR 63,900). The drinks were the same routine. You can spend less here to pick better food. That’s actually my policy. For example in Japanese restaurants, most of them currently serve ocha for free. I’d say let’s not waste such opportunity by buying more expensive drinks. Better to put your money in good use by trying the more exotic delicacies they may offer or something that normally you wouldn’t even bother to pick which of course undoubtedly because of the price, right? In Chili’s of course, I recommend you to enact the policy without thinking because this is no place where you would spend your time like everyday unlike Michael in The Office. Ah! Talking about economics and the buying power…

Combo Fajitas
Combo Fajitas

At last the dishes arrived. We had been famished and the very sight of the dishes were very heartwarming yet triggered the lust to dig in as quick as we can! My pick was indeed a beautiful one. Perhaps many of us here still not familiar with this dish. There were three separate vessels. The chicken and the beef were served upon a hot plate and dressed in onions and capsicum. Very inviting! The second vessel was closed and for my surprise (forgive my virginity in Tex-Mex cuisine), it was filled with huge layers of tortilla. Okay, then the last vessel was filled with the dressings. There are 4 elements here, the sour cream, shredded lettuces, the legendary guacamole, and pico de gallo. Questions? Hesitate to ask. Because I found them out by myself and I can assure you that this dish was heavenly! It’s like you’re making a sandwich. You fill the tortilla with the meat and dress it up in any style you want! That simple. It may be awkward to taste unfamiliar dressings with ingredients I mentioned earlier but you won’t argue with me if you have tried it! Extraordinary indeed!

Margarita Chicken

My partner’s dish nonetheless, was also a brilliant one. It may seem like an ordinary Western dish with a little bit of Mexican touch. The grilled chicken topped with lemon and shredded tomatoes, onions, and friends. Below the chicken you can find nachos-like thin sticks. Accompanied by sautéed vegetables and mashed potatoes snowed with cream-like cheese or something which I forgot. The most brilliant part was actually not the chicken, but it’s the potato! I tell you what, I HAVE NEVER TASTE MASHED POTATOES SO TASTY BEFORE IN MY LIFE ASIDE THE ONE HERE IN CHILI’S!!!!! I gotta scream! It was superb and I can’t say more in this. It’s like you’re given wings to fly. Seriously foodies, you gotta try it!

The dish proved to be too much to handle for my partner, so I must warn you that you gotta be really hungry if you’re coming here because it’s gonna be an adventure you’d surely won’t forget. I figure that people abroad notably in USA must be thinking that this place was only an ordinary Tex-Mex restaurant, but for a first timer like me, I can’t even forget how wonderful it was to be there even it took place almost a year ago. My dear foodies, let’s try it again then! ^^

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (3/10)

A total of IDR 270,039 for two. It’s too expensive though I know some ingredients might be imported, but still…

2. INTERIOR (5/10)

Way too outdated..

3. SERVICE (4/10)

There was no greeter and we have to call someone out for help. That’s no good.

4. TASTE (8/10)

Superb mashed potato! The rests were great too.

5. OVERALL (5/10)

I don’t know why Chili’s just not expanding themselves knowing that they’ve been here since the 80s. Perhaps you guys put it too expensive for Indonesians pocket.

Additional Information:

Location : Sarinah Building 2nd Fl. Jakarta, Indonesia

TGA Milestone: A New Header!

Ah at last I can install a cool new header that fits my blog well.  I can be pretty lame at designing things like these and my expectations by appointing somebody more qualified than me appears to be fruitful.

I really wanna thank Mamagala for her sincere effort to design this new header. Much love! ^^

Restaurant Review: Rosso (2009)

Sunday Brunch! That’s it! It’s time for the new level. Not just an ordinary all-you-can-eat buffet, but it’s an exclusively designed Sunday Brunch buffet with limited time and you gotta book yourself a seat first. Long story short, my friend had asked me out and of course I said I’m coming, and then booked the place one week prior. The price however, was a bit stunning since it was my first Sunday Brunch. Expect to pay IDR 268,000++ for Sunday Brunch with free flow soft drinks and juices or IDR 288,000++ with free flow red or white wine. I had to admit that before agreeing this offer, I felt reluctant a bit but since this was a rare offer and an intriguing adventure, I said to myself why not? Let’s hit the road then! *grinning*

Since Sunday Brunch only available from 10.30 AM until 2.30 PM, we decided to come a bit early so that there would be plenty of time should we wish to appease the monstrous appetite. Haha.. Intermezzo! So, lately I have been a quite frequent patrons for breakfast at Hyatt Jakarta with my other friend. They do close the breakfast buffet at 10.30 AM and we always start the breakfast at around 9 AM and that was a huge space of time for me to try everything. Let’s say that when we first came to Rosso, we were still rookies for a hotel dining. Therefore I conclude that coming too early does not necessary at all. Coming late would be a disaster of course, but at least 2 hours would be enough to taste everything from appetizer to dessert. Just take your time, don’t be too ambitious, prepare your stomach (a.k.a less breakfast), and don’t drink too much. That’s the secret art of maximizing the satisfaction in your all-you-can-eat dining experience.

We were given the menu explaining things about the brunch and we’re supposed to pick one from several options for the main dish. As for the rest, it’s gonna be all-you-can-eat! I picked Veal wrapped in cabbage, layered with mushroom, spinach, and cheese sauce. Sounds yummy eh? My partner chose Grilled sea bass with marinated vegetables, roasted potato, and balsamic emulsion. Enthralling! Haha.. Well, you can also pick other options such as Risotto with asparagus, tiger prawns, and fresh spinaches or Beef fillet mignon with pancetta sage potato, sauteed capsicum, and black truffle sauce. You might also want to know about ‘V’ crispy polenta with capponata, breaded mushroom, and basil pesto sauce or even try the Marinated chicken breast with roasted baby potato, grilled zucchini, and diavola sauce. Well, to be honest, these options might be obsolete by now. I do expect that Chef Alessandro Santi who runs the place, might do more experiments about the Italian main dishes there and the menu may be updated from time to time. FYI, that was the menu for March 2009, but at least you got the real image about Rosso right?

We can order the main dish anytime we’re ready. So first, we gotta indulge ourselves with the exquisite appetizers. There was a buffet made of ice blocks filled with fresh frutti di mare such as tiger prawns, scallops, crabs, and even lobsters. Further, we found the salad and pasta bars with many ingredients that I love such as asparagus, mushrooms, sliced beef made into carpaccio, many kinds of cheese, and others! You can also find meatballs that can be dipped with tomato sauce and pasta that you can take with ease. On the opposite table I found juices and drinks but you’d better save it for later.

Ravioli with Tiger Prawn Sauce

The most interesting part here was the pasta bar, made and served personally by the Head Chef Alessandro Santi. We’re supposed to pick the type of pasta and the sauce. Doesn’t sound that interesting eh? But you’ll find it interesting once you know that Rosso provide pasta dishes like starting from Traditional Lasagna Bolognaise, Dover Sole Cannelloni, Saffron Fettucine, Spaghetti Rustichella, Farfalle, Black Olive Gnocchi, or Sea Bass Agnoloti and with sauces that you won’t find anywhere like Tiger Prawn Sauce, Eggplant Pesto, Porcini Sauce, or Black Truffle Sauce. Now now, you wouldn’t wanna pick too many appetizers (except for the fresh raw seafood) if you know that Rosso make such recipes. Personally made and delivered by the chef himself, showing that he cares. Such personal involvements really do make people appreciate food more and not only through the taste. By the way, I chose Ravioli with Tiger Prawn Sauce and that was a good choice!

‘V’ Minestrone soup with basil pesto, roasted pine kernels, and extra virgin olive oil

Next, we’re ready for the main dish but first we’re served with another appetizer from the kitchen, the ‘V’ Minestrone soup with basil pesto, roasted pine kernels, and extra virgin olive oil. Well, I hate to say that it was like any other vegetables soup but still a decent one for sure. Not long after we finished with the soup, the main dishes came. My choice, the Veal wrapped in cabbage, layered with mushroom, spinach, and cheese sauce, was not exactly as I had thought. The veal might be tender, but the cabbage somehow didn’t fit into the taste. I actually favored the spinach only as the companion for the veal and topped that with mushroom for more decency in taste. However the so-called cheese sauce didn’t feel like cheese at all. It was nonetheless quite satisfying but it was beaten black and blue by the brilliance of the appetizers. That’s a shame because the main dish was supposed to be better.

Veal wrapped in cabbage, layered with mushroom, spinach, and cheese sauce

As for my friend’s choice, the Grilled sea bass with marinated vegetables, roasted potato, and balsamic emulsion was somehow better but still not that special. Well, I don’t know whether it’s because the tongue of an Asian, notably Indonesian, was suitable enough with European dishes because we seem to fond more for sharper taste equipped with plenty of spices. Pretty bland for my tongue so I suppose this would be the homework for the chef. Adapt and conquer! That’s what we’re doing wherever we are right? Well, that’s for March 2009 menu. Perhaps now should be better.

Grilled sea bass with marinated vegetables, roasted potato, and balsamic emulsion

Afterwards, we just can’t wait for the desserts! Plenty of cakes, ice cream, and colorful things to be plundered in the dessert section. I can tell you one thing, the best part of the dessert was the Pannacotta! Extraordinary! You gotta try it if you come to Rosso. Well, the tragic thing about the dessert was that I was beaten by my inability to try to finish all of the desserts. To wrap it up, they offer us coffee or tea as the finisher. After I finished the coffee, everything seemed to be blurry just like a dream that just passed away through a phase of my life. It was indeed like a dream come true and I do really wish to get a chance for another Sunday Brunch adventure. Perhaps Scusa for a comparison study. ^^

Pannacotta

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (6/10)

IDR 268,000++ for Sunday Brunch with free flow soft drinks and juices

IDR 288,000++ with free flow red or white wine

Pretty reasonable judging from ingredients used and things that you can’t find that easily outside. It’s a loss though if you can’t keep up with the goldmine. Hoho..

2. INTERIOR (8/10)

Dominated but red and good interior. Makes your dining experience doubled by the lascivious and elegant look of the joint.

3. SERVICE (7/10)

What else could you ask? Even the chef himself deliver the food personally to your table.

4. TASTE (7/10)

Excellent appetizers and desserts. They need to work out more for the main dishes though.

5. OVERALL (6/10)

Additional Information:

RSVP Required!!

Location : Shangri-la Hotel, Jakarta

Restaurant Review: Bibliothèque [CLOSED]

Arguably one of the hippest place in Jakarta now. Bibliothèque is a semi formal wine and dine place with the interior elegance, a mixture between the old school library bookshelves, wooden panels, old European streets lanterns, classic style furnitures but with the touch of modern feel and cozy lighting. Also, the grandfather’s clock and the grand piano make this place even more lavish. Not to mention that live DJ are also heating up the night with cool remixes of lounge and nu-jazz tunes after 9 or 10 PM.

My first visit was not premeditated. All of a sudden my friends asked me out to visit this new place for wine and dine. Even though this place resided in the premises of the lavish Sampoerna Strategic Square, I assumed that no matter how exclusive it might appear, it would be still the same like the previous places I had already visited like Social House, Cork & Screw, Pastis, or Poste. We stole our way in from the parking lot to the back entrance from inside the building when the security stopped me all of a sudden. I have always been an avid user of sandals no matter where I go. Well, as you can see, I love freedom bound activities, therefore I will always have to do everything dynamically and that can be sorted out only with casual attires. At any rate, they didn’t allow me to come in. Politely. Long story short, after several peaceful arguments, we then decided to drive me back just to fetch my shoes.

This time, we came in from their front entrance. Looking good! Lavish and filled with stylish people, no wonder why my friend had to book from a week before. Judging from the trends, Jakartans will flock into new hip places like this one though that doesn’t mean that the older places will be deserted. Best to book first, that’s rule number one.

So, we were seated upstairs, a bit far from the action but if you want a somewhat pristine atmosphere, you can pick the place. I recommend though to seat downstairs around just around the corner by the window. Unfortunate for us that everything downstairs was booked.

Baklava with Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, and Strawberry

Since we already had dinner, we decided to pick desserts and coffee. Well, from what I saw, in the food section they provide serious Middle Eastern cuisine and bit of Western. A good thing because most wine and dine concepts are serving Western only plus a little bit of Eastern, but certainly not Middle Eastern food like these. After I browsed through the dessert section, I immediately ordered the Baklava with Vanilla Ice Cream (IDR 39,000). As for the drinks, there’s not much action to be found in non-alcoholic section, but I picked the Hot Cappuccino (IDR 35,000). As for the rest and making the most of the pages in the menu, the alcohols!

Volcano Chocolate Espresso

Relentlessly but politely, the waiter suggested a bottle of wine for us but since we didn’t plan to drink alcohol and certainly not me, we declined the offer but my friend asked him about several brands of wine just to keep the ‘dignity’. Well, the truth is if you come into such places, you’re gonna be expected to blend into the culture of drinking wine or even spirits or at the very least, a beer. Seeing everything around you doing that, makes you somehow tempted to do so. But let me assure you that you really don’t have to get involved unless you wanted to.

Ah, I forgot about the delights we ordered before. Turned out that the Baklava was the star of the day. Accompanied with delicious cream, ice cream and a strawberry, the four small Baklava sticks were indeed very tasty! Classy, rich, and fully flavored, the Baklava has been the delicacy originated from Turkey centuries ago. It’s rare to find such recipes around here, therefore that’s the very reason why I picked that for my dessert. Everybody seemed to be happy after tasting my Baklava and of course myself. You’ll crave for more since they only serve you little for quite a price.

As for the coffee, it’s pretty much the same but they provide you with cube sugar, brown sugar, and simple syrup to be added to your coffee according to your taste. A comfortable night we had, but until they made the lamps less illuminated, the atmosphere upstairs became darker and less pleasant but you can ask for a candle to be lit in your table. On the contrary though, it’s still pleasant downstairs. Lucky that the DJ played some good music.

Well, let’s wrap it up. The place was indeed classy but somehow doesn’t have the balanced composition regarding the exterior if you comprehend what I argued earlier. The service was excellent too, the waiters have been helpful and most of all, they don’t allow casual or sandals. Well, that’s a problem for me but it’s pretty understandable judging from the place. The dessert was excellent but not with the coffee. I assume that the main dishes would be excellent as well. They don’t use foreign chefs, but since the dessert was tasty then it’s quite safe to assume that they keep such quality for the rest. This place also fit for a romantic dinner though it gets less romantic on Friday and Saturday (closed on Sunday) because of the crowd, but it’s indeed a good place to spend time with your friend.

The Judgment (based on scale of 10 score plus the comments):

1. PRICE (4/10)

Calculation Method

GT = (Principle Price + (Principle Price x Service Tax)) x Restaurant Tax

– Service Tax = 10%

The same trick Jakarta’s similar joints have in their sleeves.

2. INTERIOR (7/10)

No matter how lavish it may seem, it gets colder upstairs. Downstairs may be different. Indeed the music helps to ease that feeling but you gotta speak louder.

3. SERVICE (6/10)

Helpful and ready at all times around you though sometimes we want some privacy or just equipped us with a buzzer to call them.

4. TASTE (7/10)

Next time, I’ll be sure to check the main dishes. As for the desserts, they’re heavenly!

5. OVERALL (6/10)

Additional Information:

Location : Sampoerna Strategic Square (GF), Jakarta

Supermarket Sweep: 7 Eleven [CLOSED]

Hot Cappuccino Medium Size with free Syrups!

What’s with 7 Eleven? It’s only a mini mart! Yeah, I know that. But this one is special. Just opened recently in Jakarta. I heard we got one here back then, but this one’s probably the whole different story. Located on the intersection of Mahakam St., this place getting a bit packed with teens who would hang out around that place in weekends. One of the attendants also said to me that they’ll open one in Kemang next, so I guess that the next one would be in Sabang St. That’s a businessman acumen. Haha..

What’s so special then? Unlike those smaller 7 Eleven marts I saw in Singapore, KL, or Bangkok, this one got everything inside! Mostly they only got the Slurpee and Big Gulp right? Here, they of course got those too, but they also installed the brewed coffee machine and a machine for teh tarik, cappuccino, and latte for any size! Add your favorite syrups for free! I had 4 shots of caramel for my hot cappuccino for excellent taste.

They also got counters for ready food like the hotdogs, fresh pizza, fried rice, Japanese croquettes, and others! For the hotdogs, you can add anything you like inside plus add the cheese from the machine for free!!! Now that’s what I call heaven!

They also provide seats so that you can sip your coffee or have your hotdogs peacefully. Plus the instant photo box machine and the copier for your other needs. Though what I didn’t like was that they put so much lamps on the ceilings so it gets too bright and definitely energy unfriendly. Well, don’t expect to get pampered a lot in a mini mart like that, but at least they really provide many interesting things for us to see for the first time in Jakarta. Enjoy your visit there! ^^

Location : All over Jakarta!

The exciting gastronomic escapades of a foodie journo!

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