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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Restaurant Review: Rustique, Plaza Senayan, Jakarta

Sept. 17 (Jakarta Globe) I try to avoid superlatives in reviews, but at Rustique Grill and Wine I ate what was unquestionably the best steak I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve dined at some of America’s (and Australasia’s) finest (and most expensive) steakhouses. The secret — executive chef Fany Hermawan dry-ages his own beef, hanging it in a temperature- and climate-controlled storeroom for from 18 to 40 days, depending on the particular cut. The result — beef so tender that both myself and my dining companion lay down our cutlery after our first bites, sat back and breathed “Wow!”

Such a treat on its own would bring me back regularly, but Rustique does not rest on its signature dish alone. The restaurant, which celebrated its second anniversary on Aug. 1, also offers innovative seafood dishes, inventive takes on classic dishes and truly sinful desserts.

Chef Fany’s family moved to Australia while he was still in school, and before returning to his native Indonesia he trained and worked at some of that country’s most acclaimed restaurants. The Australian influence can be seen in the fresh, innovative combinations on his menu. Joining him in the kitchen recently is Japanese chef de cuisine Shigetoshi “Gio” Uramoto who, after 10 years in San Francisco restaurants, brings his own style of Japanese-American-European fusion .

A quieter but just as important presence in Rustique is co-owner Christoph Darjanto, who has taken the lessons learned from a family of restaurateurs and created a space that is comfortable and welcoming while still impressively elegant.

My friend Lisa and I had already decided we would sample Rustique’s steak as a main course and wanted to share a seafood dish to begin, but had difficulty selecting from the interesting choices. We finally settled on a seafood salad, featuring squid, prawns, scallops and fish in a spicy dressing atop a bed of warm sauteed carrot, zucchini and yellow pepper. The julienned vegetables complemented the seafood well and we quickly cleaned the plate.

On the meat menu, either rib-eye or sirloin steak is available in various weights, or non dry-aged tenderloin or tenderloin wagyu beef. There is also a grilled meat sampler, offering Australian rib-eye and US tenderloin alongside chicken in a coconut sauce, or diners can select from prime rib, chicken breast or lamb rack.

We had come for the steak, however, so ordered a dry-aged rib-eye, medium-rare. From a choice of eight sauces and nine side dishes (including potatoes served six ways), we selected a red wine jus, a mushroom jus, sauteed spinach and sauteed mushrooms.

We completed our meal with an orange custard pudding with hot orange sauce and a dark valrhona chocolate fondant with hazelnut praline ice cream. The chocolate dessert contained a hot sauce offset perfectly by the ice cream and I was tempted to lick the plate clean.

Rustique has a warm, softly lit decor, with an open kitchen, brick walls and huge black mirrors opening out the space. The staff are attentive without being annoying, a balancing act that is not always easy to achieve. Add in an extensive wine list compiled by the head bartender, who recently placed fourth in an international sommelier competition, and there was nothing we could fault the restaurant on.

Rustique Grill and Wine
Plaza Senayan
Level P4 #413
Jl. Asia Afrika No. 8
Jakarta 10270
Tel. 021 5785 2760

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