Our expert epicure continues an undercover operation to bring you the truth about Indonesia’s dining scene. No spoon is left unturned in the quest for honest, balanced reviews, from long-established favourites to the hottest new tables in town.
VUE 46, relative newcomer to Jakarta’s French fine dining scene sets the bar high for its competition.
Lately, my quest for a restaurant in Jakarta that excelled in all aspects of food, drink and hospitality had left me in a funk. If one meal was decent, then the service was generally inept. If the service was decent, the kitchen churned out disappointments. If the bar enticed, then everything else suffered just slightly more.
However, there have been a few whispers amongst my gastronomically inclined circle of friends in the past few weeks of a restaurant in The Plaza tower that could possibly tick all the boxes. I was wary. I could not bear to be disappointed yet again by the allure of a fancy chef in a lofty locale only to have my hopes dashed on plates of despair by wait staff bleating “maaf” in bow ties. So, I booked a table for lunch and steeled myself in advance.
What was revealed over the course of my meal at VUE 46 was heartening. The restaurant has been open less than a year and is currently one of the best representatives of modern French fine dining in Jakarta.
No expenses were spared in the creation of the dining room – from the Bose sound system to the branded white linens draped over the tables and lining the bread baskets. Individual leather chairs were so wonderfully comfortable to sit in, with just the right amount of cushioning and height. The classic and elegantly understated yet warm and inviting main room provided an easy contrast against the million-dollar coastal view with the Monas Monument and Istiqlal Mosque in the foreground.
The silverware was brilliantly polished! The chairs pulled out by staff in sequence of age of guest upon arrival! The table was set to the correct number of diners for the reservation! I experienced joyous little palpitations every time I recognized professional service cues being executed by the staff.
At VUE 46, there are prix fixe menus with a few interchangeable items – mostly during lunch. There is also the option of the ‘menu express’ at midday, which is a three-course prix fixe menu that provides a quicker option for diners who are hindered by a one-hour lunch break. After ordering, the server asked if anyone in the party had allergies or special preferences (gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.).
Service was unobtrusive, timed well and attentive. Water glasses were never empty. Warm miniature ficelles and boules stuffed with tomato and chilli were served immediately after our order with a plate of sea salt and butter for each diner. The signature dish is presented first: angel hair pasta with black truffles and caviar. The liberal use of black truffles against the briny caviar was brilliantly captured by a base of perfectly cooked angel hair pasta. I understand some may feel that the truffle flavour is overpowering, but I am not one of those critics. When there are truffles in pasta to be eaten, I believe in the old adage: the more, the merrier. What good is pasta if not for providing a canvas to something as exquisite and divine as truffles?
The signature dish would have been a hard act to follow if not for the exceptional langoustine wrapped in paper-thin wonton skin and then deep-fried like Japanese tempura. The skin was delicately brittle and disintegrated upon the bite, without any slick of oil or detracting from the beautifully sweet langoustine tail meat inside. What was unfortunate was the side consisting of thinly shredded dried seaweed atop of a miniature version of a Caesar salad. The folichonne salad did little to bring about cheer considering the succulent piece of langoustine beside it. The seaweed was overwhelming and did not have a very pleasant mouth-feel when eaten in abundance – imagine the texture of cotton candy sticking to the roof of your mouth – and the salad underneath was a stale afterthought.
The main course consisted of a superb duck confit, a hearty leg trimmed and pan-roasted for a crisp exterior, served alongside a luscious mushroom stew and pumpkin mousse. The powerful combination of the duck confit with the sweet pumpkin and the umami of the mushrooms can deliver the most encouraging kick in the rear end for French food enthusiasts. This is an excellent example of a classic French dish using refined cooking techniques and quality ingredients.
Dessert was sublime and truly on a stage of its own. The meal was rounded out with a classic soufflé infused with Grand Marnier and accompanied by a quenelle of vanilla bean ice cream. The soufflé was perfectly airy and egg-y, with the texture cut by a light sprinkling of sugar granules baked along the sides. The Grand Marnier infusion paired wonderfully with the vanilla bean ice cream. My companion enjoyed the Floating Island, which consisted of a meringue suspended in a Madagascar vanilla-scented lake of crème anglaise. Again, light and not too cloyingly sweet like some desserts can be at the end of the meal. What was a bit disappointing was the cappuccino I ordered, which was more of a latte.
The wine list is extensive with an obvious and heavily favoured tilt towards French and French-style wines. Burgundies and Bordeaux featured well into the menu and most of the New World wine labels followed suit. For non-wine aficionados, the wine-by-the-glass and restaurant recommendations should do just fine and work well with the tasting menus.
Incredulous as it may seem, VUE 46 is worth pretty much every coin and note. From the impeccable ambiance to the professionalism of its staff to the delightful kitchen creations, I am quite pleased my run with restaurant mediocrity has been broken.
Verdict? 4 out of 5 stars (A VUE to a Thrill)
Telephone: +62 (021) 2992 2246
The Plaza, 46th Floor, Jalan M.H. Thamrin Kav 28-30, Jakarta 10350
Lunch: 12:00pm – 2:30pm
Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Lunch for 2
Prix Fixe Lunch: Rp.1,360,000
PB1 Tax: 10%