New in Town: Downtown Bistro

Gazing upon the slab of piping hot red meat before me, I was amazed by the subtle colour gradation from dark caramel brown to lighter shade and seamlessly turns salmon pink in the center. The hues gave away the meticulous broiling process to result in this medium steak that looked slightly burnt on the upper and lower surface, but still somewhat wet and juicy in the middle.

With much anticipation, my knife sliced through a half centimetre off the edge of the steak, deeper and deeper, unexpectedly with much ease. I drenched the bite-sized slice in the balsamic reduction sauce and felt the explosion of flavours in my mouth. The medium broiled steak reached a perfect tenderness, I swear it was the best steak I’ve ever had (disclaimer: due to my limited experience in eating steak, my standard may be more lenient than an average person’s).

Okay, enough with the drama at the steak scene. Let’s rewind to the moment I had first set foot at this new establishment…
                                                                                                                       
No one would've expected to find a stylish brand new bistro in the vapid Landmark Centre building that's been long deserted by its tenants due to the flood that inundated the city years ago. Although I was never aware of the floods, the building does show obvious signs of neglect or simply old age.

As I stepped onto the wooden panelled floor, I noticed the sudden change of ambiance from the depressive, mouldy air, to become fresh, lively & inviting niche. Dark hues & soft lighting permeates the interior, creating a somewhat relaxing atmosphere, yet maintaining the seriousness with the bookshelves against the wall.

I am most intrigued by the tall library desk and stools, which are readily converted into a sleek dining counter anytime. These desks are perfect for solo diners (like me), because no one would notice whether you know the person sitting next to or opposite you.

What's impressive is the alternating set of triple plug sockets! Yes, you can sit & eat & drink & charge up to 3 of your gadgets at the same time, and you need not worry that anyone else is queuing impatiently behind, waiting for his/ her turn to use the electricity.

As a new bistro, the menu is still rather basic and limited, but they cover a good range of selection. Select from the simple Bread and Jam (served from 7 – 11.30am), perfect for convenient and quick takeaways during the rush hour, or settle with the complete and nutritious Breakfast sets from around the world, served replete with a cup of coffee grown on one of the owner's plantation, or tea. My favourite: the French Toast from the Paris Breakfast set (IDR 86k), eaten with the maple syrup, simply perfect to start one’s day. Take note that Breakfast is only available for 2 hours: from 10am until noon, before the menu swaps to the mains for lunch and dinner.

The mains selection is pretty standard: salads, sandwiches and burgers, Italian pastas, Asian favourites, main courses and desserts. Try the Crisp Glazed Orange Chicken from the Asian Favourites (IDR 45k) served with fragrant and slightly savoury basmati rice. The crispy chicken is fried in tangy and flavourful batter to give you crispy golden strips. Excuse me, can I have more of these please, because I’m on a carb diet, but I can’t say no to these chicken strips!

As if we don’t already have enough Americanization all around us, every now and then, you are reminded of the American touch that is central to Downtown Bistro, such as the Chicago Loop Sampler, Boston Red Sox, California Chicken Salad, Louisiana Super Dome, American Dogs, the George Steak, Sloppy Joe’s Burger and their friends. I can’t emphasize more, how much I love the George Steak (IDR 175k), 180gr premium Australian beef tenderloin, broiled according to your preference and served with mashed potatoes, crunchy asparagus and mushrooms, glazed with tangy balsamic reduction sauce. Simply heavenly…

Seal your meal with a luscious kiss from the Sticky Toffee Date Pudding (IDR 35k). Caution: this is for serious sweets lovers, anyone daring enough to call themselves sweet-toothed, sink your teeth in this gum-jamming, calorie-packed dessert. The pudding, eaten alone might make you roll your eyes out, but combined with the semi-sweet vanilla ice cream, they make a deadly and addictive combo.

There's also a selection of popular cocktails for post-office hours chill-out session such as the Lychee Martini, Mojito, Cosmopolitan, Daiquiri, etc. And for more serious alcohol connoisseurs, check out the Wine, Champagne and Spirits selection, available by glass (except the champagne) and bottle. My favourite cocktail is the DK 80 (IDR 85k), which may be too sweet for some, but appropriate for ladies and its tanginess leaves a refreshing after-taste in the mouth.

I need more drama (the George Steak) in my life, please!

*) This article has been previously published on The Jakarta Globe Blogs, Life Lived, on 16 June 2012.
All prices quoted are subject to 21% Government Tax
The George Steak IDR 175,000
Wild Mushroom Soup IDR 29,000
Escargot Linguine Pesto IDR 57,000
Smoked Turkey Sandwich IDR 59,000
Crisp Glazed Orange Chicken IDR 45,000
New York Breakfast IDR 82,000
Paris Breakfast IDR 86,000
The George Pie IDR 40,000
Sticky Tofee Date Pudding IDR 35,000
Crème Brûlée IDR 85,000
Landmark Central Ground Floor
JL. Jendral Sudirman No. 1
Ph: +62 21 52960064 / +62 82110003000
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Open Hours: Mon – Fri (8AM – 11PM) | Saturdays (4PM - closed) | Sundays (call in advance to inquire)

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