Birds of a feather flock together. VE HANDOJO inspects the new gathering place, noting down the hits and misses.
In less than a month, this new kid on Jalan Wijaya 9 has snapped up a loyal base of customers that are now literally flocking there in droves. This is such a rarity, as there has been absolutely no promotion. A critic’s skeptical inclination leads me to browse, suspiciously, through the residential area of Wijaya in South Jakarta. It also was not an easy destination since even a Blue Bird had difficulty in finding the address. It’s definitely not their usual cage.
The house numbered 23 has an edgy, rugged, and rustic charm set in a Zen-inspired minimalism, garnished with vintage-style wooden furniture. The floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows connect the hip bistro downstairs with the courtyard and mini parking lot, creating a trendy and friendly welcome. Clothing with not-so-popular brand names grabbed from the bargain stores in Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea serve as a visual appetizer. Cool selections include rare items like daring male handbags, and preppy, slim-cut shirts reminiscent of Jil Sander, Raf Simons or Kris Van Assche’s.
The cage, however, is upstairs showcasing long wooden tables and bars, and presenting antique stuff as the details to endorse a creative, classic, and homey atmosphere. The easy, informal, and even playful layout will immediately make you feel like this is a cabin where you and your friends belong anytime of the day. The verandah outside is made charming with the black daybeds – very comfortable to kick back, chatter nonsense, or play endless games of Monopoly. Big trees planted around the house have their branches and leaves protecting this outdoor playground. Chirping birds, butterflies, and squirrels romanticize the ambiance.
Going up one more level is a charming old, farmhouse attic where you can definitely see yourself having your thirty-something private birthday party. However, the real birdcages hung up on the ceiling are merely unnecessary justifications to the name of the place. Hey, we know what birdcages are, and we don’t need direct translation. Let our minds interpret the full (and rather sinful) other meanings of that word.
That day, my outdoor table was accompanied by a naughty fly, and the waitress took almost half an hour to bring a candle stick to cast it away. Apparently, friendliness between guests and staff is rather over-valued here, with the staff expecting our high tolerance. Never mind, I found solace in the healthy appetizer: vine ripened tomato with buffalo mozzarella cheese and basil pesto, tagged fairly at Rp 29K. It’s fresh, and it will only fill up your tummy a little, making it a good choice for a model’s diet.
Binge foodies, yet, will find their pissaladiere (Rp 42K) a new-found fave. It’s basically a crispy puff pasty pizza topped with semi-dried tomatoes, boconcini cheese, and basil pesto. To ruin your diet further, the New Zealand lamb chops come in a generous portion, especially when priced at Rp 129K. The grill was okay, but the deal was made unjust with the close-to-rotten carrots piled up on the plate.
I moved to the recommended seafood pasta item. It’s always a tricky business; you want to have that ocean flavour, but you don’t like the pasta to be too “fishy”. My seafood linguini has escaped the first trap – not being olfactorily strong. However, it ran a needless extra mile, arriving at the level of being flavourless. Plus, the waitress was so sure that you have to enjoy a linguini dish using a knife and fork. But, I want my spoon! “No, Sir! This is how we do it here,” she insisted, and I mentally suggesting to kiss good service goodbye.
Wine selections in Birdcage should be good, but again, the staff were so busy teaching people how to eat pasta, they did not have any time to offer me any bottles. I simply stuffed myself with their favorite guilty pleasure; the tasty and melting chocolate cake with fresh (Thank God!) strawberries, at Rp 28K. Who could stay upset for too long after good choco bites? I couldn’t.
I still would like to recommend Birdcage as a hangout place, where friends can gather around over safe bets from their appetizer and dessert selections. Be sure you get to know the key people in this venue to get better service, or at least to have somebody to complain to. It is really Jakarta’s usual case these days: nicely decorated places that can hurt your tummy and raise your blood pressure. Birdcage is not very different, but that wouldn’t stop me from going back flocking there with some other cranky flamingoes.
Jl. Wijaya 9 No. 23
12160, Jakarta Selatan