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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Restaurant Review: Social House, Grand Indonesia, Jakarta

July 02 (Jakarta Globe) Despite its location on the Harvey Nichols premises in Grand Indonesia, the Social House restaurant, bar and winepost is not part of the UK-based luxury lifestyle store but a separate entity owned by the Ismaya Group, which also owns Blowfish, Dragonfly and Puro, among other such establishments.

And although not part of the lifestyle store, Social House fits in well with Harvey Nichols, with walls of pale wood shelving elegantly displaying many of the delectable items available on the same floor in the store’s food market. An extensive wine store displays a large selection of bottles from around the world to accompany your meal, four of which were available by the glass on the night we visited.

Social House has three separate menus: breakfast favorites offering classic breakfast and brunch dishes (eggs Benedict, toasted bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese); interesting tofu-based additions; a pizza, tapas and dessert selection; and a more extensive choice of sushi, soup, salads, sides and mains.

My friend and I arrived planning to sample from the main menu in the main dining area, but when we saw other friends by the bar, we decided to join them there. Situated on a corner of the building two floors above street level, Social House’s bar has fabulous views over the fountain and statue at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.

With windows that fold back completely, one can perch on a stool overlooking the chaos that is Jakarta’s traffic while enjoying a cooling breeze far above the fray. If you arrive early in the evening, as we did, it’s a wonderful spot at which to sip a cocktail while watching the sun set over the city streets and the sky grow dark behind the well-lit fountain.

However, only the tapas menu is available in the bar area. I was later told that this is to create a distinct ambience in the different areas and to reduce serving time by not overloading the kitchen.

While perusing the menu we ordered drinks, mine being a well-blended Cuban mojito with plenty of fresh mint to complement the Bacardi and soda.

The menu offered 5 types of pizza, 8 tapas and 15 desserts, and an afternoon tea set for two is also available between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day.

We chose a pizza topped with ham, caramelized onion, oregano, tomato, mozzarella and arugula; chicken and vegetable spring rolls with a sweet-and-spicy dip; and lamb ribs with lemon barbecue sauce. The pizza was delicious — a thin crisp crust cooked to perfection and a tasty mix of ingredients set off by the peppery tang of the fresh arugula.

Our spring rolls were beautifully presented, two thin tubes standing tall in a glass alongside strips of carrot and cucumber alongside the sauce. They were good, but not great — the flavors were not distinct, merging into one, and the sauce, though sweet and tasty, displayed little spiciness beyond the slice of red chili atop it.

The lamb ribs quickly made us forget that quibble though (and I hail from New Zealand, where we are fiercely proud of and just as fussy about, good lamb). The meat literally fell off the ribs and the sauce was thick and rich, making for a faultless match.

We ended our meal with another classic — a New York cheesecake served with balsamic-marinated raspberries and a selection of other berries. The tang of the berries set off the creaminess of the cake well. The restaurant also has a full selection of coffees, special coffees and a homemade grandma’s iced lemon tea with which to round off your dining.

I will return to try both the breakfast and dinner menus, but wish I could have enjoyed a plate of oysters from the dinner menu while also admiring the view from the bar area.

Social House
Harvey Nichols, Grand Indonesia
East Mall, Level 1
Jl. Thamrin No. 1
Tel. 021 2358 1818

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