Front Page Bar and Restaurant Review, Plaza Gani Djemat, Jl Imam Bonjol, Jakarta,
Alighting from a DeadDogTM taxi, I was struck by how anonymous Front Page’s building looks and had to ask the satpam, as there was no indication that Front Page actually resided there. He guided us through the lobby and through a set of double doors – again no signage – and into the bar area. The smell of stale alcohol hit me and as first impressions go, this is not the best, considering the review ninja was beset with the woes of a hangover and was in post-traumatic child-teaching disorder (or PTCTD, to give it it’s snappy clinical abbreviation) mode, so alcohol was not the aroma I was in need of. Freshly beaten and barbecued child, yes.
The decor, extending from the bar through to the restaurant, is reminiscent of the decadent eateries Brett Easton Ellis describes in American Psycho, replete with iconic magazine covers and a predominance of black and chrome. Black and gold artwork adorns the walls, with the pictures disturbingly resembling highly-magnified single cell cultures. I worried that these were like the fish that you could choose from the aquarium to have freshly fried for you. “Which protozoa would you like with your meal, Sir?”
The menu runs through European food, Indian, Chidian and Asian fusion and features a conspicuous absence of beef, maybe due to the Indian-heavy focus.
I ordered a starter of Spicy Tomato Toast and a main of Balsamic Chicken with Mushroom risotto while Mz went for the Kung Pao Chicken. The food arrived at what I decreed to be the right time. I hate food arriving seconds after you order. It makes me anxious. But after a reassuring length of time, the pretty little triangles of cheese, chilli and tomato topped toast were delivered and devoured with the fervour borne of being in the proximity of other people’s spawn without a tazer.
The waiting staff did a really good job with the concept of starter before main meal. This might sound obvious, but it is rare in Jakarta to find a restaurant that can cope with waiting until you have finished before serving the next course. In a restaurant with quite strong air-con, this can often mean your steak is refrigerated by the time you come to eat it. The main courses were both extremely tasty and excellently presented. The chef obviously enjoys making a garnish both aesthetically and gastronomically titillating. Take that in the eye, Jakartan restaurants who believe a slice of cucumber and a slice of tomato on a wilting lettuce leaf constitutes a salad. The balsamic reduction was well-rounded and not cloying like it often can be. The Kung Pao chicken was aromatic and sweet. Both were demolished by the Marmz hungry hippos.
Despite Front Page being aesthetically not to my taste, the service gives this place a pleasant atmosphere which is in stark contrast to the elitest image engendered in the 1980′s-style decor. I would recommend Front Page as a dinner date kind of place if you want to show your date that you are familiar with some of Jakarta’s less obvious places-to-be.