That I love Indonesia is an open secret. It’s people are creative and extremely friendly. I love Indonesia for its multiculturalism, its tolerance and its pluralism. Despite a revamped conservative movement, freedom of expression is something deer to many, and these people do not let themselves been deterred as the following video clip shows:
By default I had some time for myself. I took the opportunity and strolled through Kemang, the area in Jakarta where my hotel, the Grand Flora, was located. The other day, I had briefly met friends at the “Elbow Room”, a brand new place to hang out in Jakarta but we only had a couple of beers.
I was impressed by the shiny new décor of solid wood panels and the copies of paintings by classical and modern artists. Also the high ceilings appealed to me, so did the non-smoking ban which provides the air of freedom in a world which more and more subdues private lives to the wisdom of a certain kind of political correctness. I consider myself a non-smoker despite my occasional cigar burning rituals I perform with great gusto.
Last night I went there again, this time for tea, as we say in Australia, which translates for non-Australian as “dinner”. Apart from the wood beams and wood panels, the bar contains also some type of ship-features, in golden metal colours. At first sight the large round window on the first floor gives the impression of a porthole. The smaller inner-circle is more reminiscent of an eyeball though which you can look through and out to the street. The toilets are done in ship-style too.
I choose a table on the first floor near the window and sat in the big and solid country-style leather chair, I like so much. I was not very hungry. Actually, a glass of wine would have done it for me. From the earlier visit I knew that you can only order whole bottles. The waiters are extremely friendly and helpful (great service). The jazz music gives the place a flair of intellectual sophistication. The lights are subdued, in fact the place is rather dark.
My little digital camera could not cope with the general darkness of the place. This is why I cannot show you pictures of the interior and of the food I consumed. I ordered bruscetta and fried zucchini, both quite tasty snacks. The Australian Shiraz (Penfolds) was out, so I settled for a bottle of ‘2004 Geoff Merrill Cabernet Merlot’, from South Australia, the only other red wine on offer.
I had not heard of this wine and this producer before. The Cabernet Merlot blend is a medium bodied wine with a wonderful dark red colour (14.5 % Vol). The black fruit aroma was quite nice, and the wine tasted also like black fruit. The mid-palate weight was very remarkable, the finish was OK but nothing spectacular, in short a solid wine. When researching the wine, I did not find it on the Geoff Merrill website (there is no cuvée of this type). But the wines are reasonable priced (16 to 30 A$). The Elbow Room charged INR 469,000.-, about € 30 for the bottle which I find to be a bit on the dear side.
I asked the waiter if I could take the bottle home in case I could not finish it and he kindly agreed (otherwise I would have left the place). I smoked some kretek cigarettes and had a jolly good time.
If you want to know what the interior of this bar-cum-restaurant looks like, you have to go yourself and find out. I personally prefer to eat in more lit up places. The prices for the snacks mentioned above were very reasonable. I recommend to the Elbow Room management to consider introducing a wine-by-the-glass policy. Check the place out if next time in Jakarta, it’s worth visiting. I will definitely visit again.
Elbow Room Restaurant
Jl. Kemang Raya No. 24 A