That everything would do and taste good when you are famished was the predominant thought running through my mind when I trawled the Internet searching for a restaurant on Jalam Imam Bontol. I had missed the 9-12pm office hours by five minutes because of the snail-pace traffic at Cawang, and I was famished. Lunch while waiting for the Consular Section of the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta to resume business hours seemed to be the best – and only – option.
There were only three reviews that raved about the wine and dine FrontPage place on the Internet. Being the sceptic that I am, I hedged against disappointment by lowering my expectation, pegging it to the most basic of having a meal to appease my hunger pangs. But my scepticism was unfounded. FrontPage had several clients who were heartily digging into their meals when I ventured in. One table of three diners were tucking into their naan and chicken tikka, and were perusing the menu. The table obliquely to my side had a couple enjoying their Chinese lunch.
Meanwhile, as perused the menu, a group of four men made their way to a table.
Service, as I noted, was pleasing and prompt. Right from the get-go, a waiter was there to assist and to lead me to a table of my choice and, within reasonable time, came back to take my order. There was no need to play the catch-the crew’s-attention because the service crew was alert and hospitable.
I finally settled on spaghetti with marinara sauce, which did not disappoint at all. Thick, sweet and tangy, the marinara sauce was replete with bite-size bits of fresh squid, shrimp and fish. Before fully tucking into the pasta, it served as a dipping sauce for the two pieces of tortilla chips at the middle of the pasta. Famishment aside, each bite of the al dente noodles wrapped in the marinara sauce was a heady mix of flavours: the sweet and sour flavour of the tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes melded with the creaminess of the parmesan cheese that was generously sprinkled on the pasta. With such a delightful pasta surprise, my previous vexation at missing the collection time at the embassy by five minutes was fully assuaged.
Another surprise landed on my lap when I perused my bill as I sipped my post-lunch caffe latte. Priced at Rp65, 000, the serving of the spaghetti marinara sauce was on the stomach-filling generous side. Talk about a serendipitous find! FrontPage was just a few meters away from the Philippine Embassy. Service was pleasant, price was reasonable and, most importantly, the meal was scrumptious.
Caffe latte done, I was ready to face the wicked traffic that I know would make the journey from Jakarta to Bekasi a test of patience. On a positive note, I would be heading home with satiated hunger pangs.
Plaza Gani Djemat
Jl. Imam Bonjol Kav 76-78
Tel: +62 21 3903614