Some tips for your restaurant:
Do not serve a side dish (grilled vegetables) 10-15 minutes before the course it was supposed to accompany.
Serve free bread. Don’t wait for your customer to ask for it.
Serve bruschetta consistently. Last visit, yes. This visit, no. WHY?
‘With ice’ means ‘with ice’, especially if I ask the waitress in her mother tongue.
A 30 minute wait between two people’s main courses is not acceptable.
Sticking a slice of potato under the steak is visually appealing, but ultimately cheating.
Turning the corners of your mouth upwards gives the appearance of actually being willing to interact with customers. Snarling doesn’t.
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Enjoy your noshing, Jakarta!
To all those injured in the recent bombings, I hope you recover and get over this horrific incident. To those families who have lost loved ones, I offer my sincerest sympathies.
I refer you a post I made in February anticipating such an attack.
I wish I wasn’t right about this…
I must admit this is not my first visit to Cazbar – closer to my 501st – but I feel that the popularity of this bar deserves explanation to those uninitiated in the ways of Cazbar and Bugils bars generally.
Recipe for a good Bugils bar:
1) Take space in area with a healthy amount of thirsty ex-patriates
2) Furnish aforementioned space with plenty of authentic slightly battered-looking decor with wooden bar, shelving, seating and flooring
3) Stick lots of random books on the shelves
4) Employ lots of friendly barmaids
5) Employ a ‘character’ for a manager
6) Encourage tangential conversation
7) Allow random behaviour from customers and staff alike
8) Add a liberal sprinkling of quizzes and promotions
9) Bring to boil
10) Season with regulars and a spicy iTunes playlist
Voila, your very own Bugils bar.
The Bugils group comprises 5 bars – Cazbar in Mega Kuningan, Eastern Promise in Kemang, One Tree Bar in Blok M, De Hooi in Pondok Indah and Bugils Bali, after its namesake finally succumbed to the persistent closure pressures in Taman Ria Senayan. This is where the branches derived their ethos of riding the waves of Indonesian life. These bars succeed because behind the facade of serendipitous success lies a group of highly,organised (but seemingly shambling) entrepeneurs with an eye for the bottom line and their respective ears to the ground. Staff loyalty, that most difficult of things to achieve in Jakarta is carefully maintained and the staff seem to treat the bars as if they, themselves, were the owners, so instilled is the sense of belonging.
In this particular bar, Cazbar, it took perhaps two visits before the staff were greeting me by name and asking if I wanted my regular order. This attention to detail impresses me and having not visited Cazbar for two months, it took the waitress, whose name escapes me, a quarter of a second before her recall kicked in. Sometimes it takes me longer than that to remember my name!
The bar is divided into three main areas: the downstairs bar; the rear lounge; and the sports bar upstairs. During the English premier league season it can appear to be very empty downstairs, only to climb the stairs (or take the lift!) to the second floor where the world and his wife are cheering on their favoured team of overpaid prima donnas. While visiting the second floor, you walk past the glassed-off kitchen. I love being able to see into the kitchen. I like restaurants that are comfortable enough with their standards of hygiene to allow nosey farts like me to watch them as they do their culinary tricks.
The menu is European, with Italian (pasta, lasagna) and Dutch dishes (Broodje Kroket, Frikandel Special) mixing with ASEAN dishes (Nasi Campur, Sop Buntut), and all the western staples you would expect of a pub restaurant. They also have an extensive breakfast menu which isn’t subject to any silly time restrictions – I have eaten the English Breakfast at 11pm!
The thing that brings me back to Cazbar is that it feels established and I know that my experience will be within the parameters of enjoyment. I am not giving myself over to chance, like with a lot of the newer places. It is like the comfy old sofa or that old t-shirt that you can’t bring yourself to throw away because it fits just right.
Cazbar – it fits just right.
My first question upon entering Glass Lounge was “Are you open?” as I appeared to be the only customer in the entire restaurant, bar the obligatory serious over-staffing. Without exaggeration the service to customer ratio was over 10:1. My service stalker radar starting beeping wildly.
Despite it being 1.20pm and me being ravenous, I was shown only the drinks menu, which has an extensive list of cocktails, mocktails, spirits and hot beverages, from which I ordered The Purple (Strawberry Juice, Strawberry Jam, Blueberry Jam and Soursop). While I waited for it to arrive, I entertained the notion that some time soon I might be presented with a food menu. Crazy idea, huh? When the waiter arrived with my drink, which incidentally was very good, he enquired as to whether I might like to order anything else. Having left my ninja ESP skills in my other bag at home, I asked if I might have a look at a food menu to decide on whether that was what I wanted to do next. I was presented with perhaps the least comprehensive menu I have had the opportunity to peruse outside of McDonalds. The food has a middle-eastern bent, with hummus and schwarma in the appetiser and main course section respectively. I ordered Beef Schwarma and this was served with a dip bowl of hummus, which made me pleased, because it was these two things I was dithering between when choosing. This is where pleased stopped, because the hummus was virtually tasteless and the Schwarma being of Doner Kebab standards. The waiter wasn’t happy unless he was irritating me every 30 seconds with a toadying ‘excuse me’ when he could have just done what he wanted to do. The tiny ashtray was full after one cigarette, thus giving him the opportunity to come back again and again.
The tiniest ashtrays ensured lots of visits from Mr Excuse Me.
The decor of the restaurant is bright red furnishings and, you guessed it, glass. Glass ornaments that were being passed over in house clearance sales 20 years ago are displayed with pride along one wall, while the kitchen wall is mirrored apart from a slot giving view on to the bored chefs in their immaculately clean kitchen.
My mother’s voice in my head said “Poor bugger who has to clean that lot!”. Poor bugger pictured in background.
The design is wine bar-by-numbers and I can’t imagine what niche they were hoping to fill. I can’t see this place being popular as a restaurant, or a cool, hip-and-happening place to be seen, a la Potato Head or Social House.
The music was simply stunningly bad, one ballad after another. It sounded like Late Night Love Hour on a parochial radio station. Not only did they play Chicago and James Blunt, they also played a Kenny G-esque version of Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’. Blunt is enough to make me choke without a twee clarinet version ten minutes later. Glass Lounge, you can safely assume you will never see this review-ninja again, unless it is to pass by your front doors to the amusing Poste or another staple of Jakarta’s dining life, the relocated Trattoria, also in the East Building and of infinitely better ambience.