A new and very exciting face appeared on the Jakarta culinary scene in December. Appropriately called Caspars, it is a testimony to outstanding interior design and combines a unique and welcoming vibe with a real feeling of excitement and discovery. Why Caspar? Well for those of you unfamiliar with the story of Christmas, Caspar was one of the three Kings who brought treasures to the baby Jesus in the stable. Their expensive gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh, Caspar was the one who brought the gold, says Now! Jakarta’s Alistair Speirs, who went to uncover what culinary treasures Caspars brings to Jakarta!
Located on the ground floor (and mezzanine as we will see later ) of the new luxury tower, Sudirman Suites, Caspars has a serious impact on arrival as the place is huge , with astonishing design and amazing lighting. When the eyes have a chance to relax and take in the surroundings, there is a lot to take in. First of all I have to tell you that the design is by the very very acclaimed team at Bill Bensley (based in Bali and Bangkok and responsible for such award winning venues as the Capella in Ubud ) and you can see it in every inch of the property, the use of materials (recycled wood from railway sleepers for the floors, recycled wood from ship’s hulls for the walls ….etc etc ) is exciting but appropriate, and the layout is both practical and intriguing. Let’s start there.
As you enter the main entrance, coming in past an extensive outdoor area which is still under development (and will be reviewed when it is finished) the main dining area is on the right with beautiful tiled tables arranged under dramatic and still practical lighting. The tables closest to the door are divan booths and will be the most popular places to see-and-be-seen in town (my prediction!). The middle area is dominated by the long bar and a lounge area opposite, again with both central divans and cosy booths. And the far left is the open kitchen and a cool area called the Chef’s Tables from where the action in the kitchen can be seen.
But that’s not all. Up above the kitchen, up a dramatic spiral staircase, is the wood paneled Whisky Bar with its major selection of rare Scotch Single Malts and Japanese Premium Brands, which has its own seating area and a selection of, well ‘daybeds’ for evening use….you know what I mean! Matching that with its own spiral staircase above the dining area, is the Wine Bar with it’s excellent selection of fine wines (still being assembled but I’m promised they will be good!).
Over the whole central area, the high ceiling comprises an intricately designed cacophony of wooden boxes, open and shut, representing the containers for Caspar’s treasure. It is a piece of dazzling and atmospheric design, but the entire place reverberates with exotic and unusual features characteristic of Bensley’s touch.
But what about the food? Also rather important in a restaurant, but less so in a venue where the crowd is already happy just to be there! My meal however was excellent and bears testimony to the experience and expertise of Chef Rafael M. Millan who brought some innovative touches to the essentially Spanish fare. I started with a selection of Tapas, but not the usual micro portions, these were seriously generous. The Altas Picantes (crispy fried chicken wings and piquant sauce) were outstanding, the Patatas Bravas were crunchy on the outside , creamy inside, the Tortilla Espanola was good (but not yet great-sorry guys) but the Arroz Negre de Alicante, essentially a paella cooked in squid ink was brilliant. I finished with a Tarta de Queso which was delightful. Overall an experience to be repeated and hopefully many other dishes to be tried! Well done Chef Rafael.
I have to say the Bar Menu, which is itself a piece of great design, was intriguing and tempting. I tried the Papua Negroni which was a marvelously subtle, and powerful way to start the evening, and I believe the wine list will compliment that, but as I said it is not 100pct complete yet.
To those who have not yet had the pleasure of trying Caspar’s treasures, hesitate not, but I can guarantee that , social restrictions not with standing reservations will be necessary. But do not give up, it is worth the wait.
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