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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Restaurant Review: Vegas Bar and Grill, Bellagio Mall, Jakarta

Aug. 06 (Jakarta Globe) A wager isn’t something I expect to find on a restaurant menu. But when the name of the restaurant is Vegas, it seems only appropriate.

The new menu at Vegas Bar and Grill offers its signature dish, the Gut Buster Burger, for free, provided that the diner can finish what’s on the plate. I’m a light eater so wouldn’t even try to attempt it. But I had high hopes for my colleague’s appetite on the evening we dined there.

Vegas has been open since November but just changed its menu two weeks ago. The changes were intended to reflect the venue’s mission statement — good simple American food with great service in a fun atmosphere.

The fun atmosphere is obvious as soon as you walk in to find an essentially open air venue with a long bar, comfortable sofa seating, as well as more traditional tables and chairs and two pool tables. The large room is surrounded by netting rather than walls and the roof can be opened at will.

This being Indonesia, the open setting means mosquitoes are a problem despite zappers and scent repellants, but the moment a waitress noticed I was being bothered, she brought a repellant spray to the table.

The pool tables were being put to good use by a group of young businessmen, four of whom, the staff informed me, had managed to polish off the Gut Buster on a previous visit. The venue apparently can fit up to 400 customers and would be an ideal place for a party, particularly with 2.5 liter pitchers of beer (complete with an ice-filled cooling compartment) for Rp 130,000.

The fun aspect also comes in with the restaurant’s themed days: karaoke on Mondays, competition play station on Tuesdays and barbecues each Sunday.

The lunch menu is also a bargain, with seven choices for only Rp 35,000 ($4) each.

I’d chosen Thursday to dine at the restaurant and found that it was Ladies’ Night, with two for one cocktails for the fairer sex.

I ordered a Lynchburg Lemonade and found it as good as any I’ve tasted in the United States. My friend chose the same and we ordered starters without first making a game plan for his upcoming challenge. The spicy chicken nachos were tasty with plenty of sour cream, salsa, chicken and cheese, although I personally would have enjoyed more spice. However, I happily eat raw chillies so making any dish spicy enough for me takes it beyond most diners’ comfort levels. Our second starter was jalapeno poppers, which I found had an enjoyable bite.

Our mains were the Gut Buster for my friend and a more ladylike 200 gram Tex Mex burger for myself (burgers are available in 200 or 300 gram sizes). I was tempted by the bbq menu, but Vegas specializes in burgers so I couldn’t bypass them. Both burgers were served with fries and coleslaw and the Gut Buster — 500 grams of meat in the patty and an oversized bun to match — looked truly intimidating. My mother once told me never to eat anything bigger than my head and, for that reason alone, I would have had to pass up this particular treat.

All burgers are freshly made of ground Australian beef on homemade buns and make the fast food travesties that use the same name look and taste like cardboard cutouts in comparison. My Tex Mex came with lettuce, tomato, beef patty and fried onion rings, as did my friend’s monstrous meal, but with the addition of salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The meat was well-seasoned and moist, but even the smaller portion proved too much for me.

My friend, who shall remain nameless out of embarrassment for him, barely managed half of his burger and only a few of his fries. He assures me he’ll do better next time.

Tracie Barrett is a Jakarta Globe copy editor who previously worked in restaurants.

Vegas Bar and Grill
Bellagio Mall, Mega Kuningan

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