Nathan Coffee, Plangi Sky Dining, Plaza Semanggi, Jakarta
I have to admit to being in somewhat of a snarky mood when I began this review. Gone was the joi de vivre of the previous review, due to having to drag myself through Plaza Semanggi which for some reason always reminds me of a vertical pasar, rather than a modern mall. It is poky and scuffed and somewhat like one big painted-over crack. Seeing six squillion people queueing in the XL centre, where I needed to go didn’t help my cheeriness.
The section of Plaza Semanggi devoted to the Jakarta Globe offices and Sky Dining above them is a pleasant respite from the rest of the place. Sky Dining, as the name suggests, is the roof area where you can overlook Jakarta as far as the smog allows, while eating, drinking or socialising. Being slapbang in the middle of the city centre, this may not seem terribly appealing, but as the day melts into dusk, Sky Dining has its draws. The brownish-grey sky is streaked with smudges of pink as the sun gives up its relentless attempts to scorch Jakarta for another day. Watching this panorama give way to an encroaching downpour, with tall buildings being swallowed whole in its approach is really quite spectacular. We decided on Nathan Coffee as it seemed quiet, but I almost turned on my heel when the waiter clocked my bule features and said “Club Sandwich, mister” while brandishing the menu at me. I am white – therefore I must want sandwich! Opting to go inside, where you can still appreciate the view in dryness we picked a spot just inside the door with a comfy sofa and armchairs. Upstairs in a gallery, the view from the other side of the building can be savoured in a really cosy seating area, where you could be forgiven for forgetting you were at home (if your home is ten storeys above Jakarta).
So, on to the nosh. I scanned the menu and found nothing that either intrigued me or surprised me. This is something of a fail for me. So I ordered Barbecue Ribs and Mz went for Nasi Panggang, which turned out to be just about as Indonesian as I am. Mozzarella, vegetables, smoked beef and rice are all baked together to form what appeared to be to a carbo-swap lasagna. She wolfed hers down, and was happy enough with the results. I didn’t tell her until afterwards that I thought hers still looked frozen, despite the reassurance of steam coming off it. It had a ‘set’ look, much like a TV dinner. A stir wouldn’t have gone amiss. My ribs arrived and where exactly what they said – ribs. Some meat on those ribs would have been a bonus. And where, oh where did the chef learn that five-spice forms part of a barbecue sauce? The fries were bog-standard stringy 3-minute fries, which go cold in about the same length of time. And did. I fought with it for a while and then gave up.
So we decided just to kick back and chill, with a couple of more drinks. I noticed a poster on the wall saying that on Monday and Wednesday nights, they had an acoustic band from 7pm onwards. This didn’t figure on my radar until they started tuning up. This was semi-acoustic, with the use of amplifiers and didn’t add anything to my relaxation. I have been in a band before and I generally skipped sound checks because I hate the tedious twinging and twanging. My housemate is a big fan of beeps and bleeps ambient weirdness, which generally has no rhyme or reason to it. So having this going on right behind me set my teeth on edge.
The service was fine, with the waitress coping without any unnecessary faffing, and the drinks arriving promptly.
As a place to grab a drink and chill after a hard days shopping in Semanggi (or Pelangi, as the gaul kids call it), this is a nice enough coffee shop that does nothing whatsoever new. Apart from misunderstanding the notion of ‘acoustic’ and meat on barbecue ribs.
I will not be returning on a Monday or a Wednesday. Twannnnnng!
(Being completely honest, the female singer and the guitarist were excellent, despite the music not being my cup of Nathan’s coffee. The male singer uttterly raped ‘Careless Whisper’.)