The Union group comes in with another dining concept. This time around, it’s looking to win the Italian food audience.
Having worked as a food writer for more than two years, there are two restaurant concepts that I always thought are better left in the recycle bin; 1920s prohibition style bars and authentic Italian trattoria. There are too many new establishments offering their own take on these concepts and, for the most part, they come off as lacklustre. However, my recent visit to Caffè Milano gave me new hope. As the latest foray from the Union Group, Caffè Milano is one of the very few Italian restaurants that manage to execute its concept impeccably.
Let’s start from the interior design. Combining the group’s signature touch such as the bistro style chairs and black window frames, the selection of furniture and even the tiles and wooden panels, all are curated to exude an Italian atmosphere. For an added bonus, the terrace dining area facing down the road is so well executed that I can imagine myself spending my whole afternoon there, breathing the not-so-fresh Jakarta air, feeling like I’m in Milan until the blue cabs whizzing pass brings me back to reality.
As for the food, executive chef Luca Perezza may very well be one of the better Italian chefs we’ve had in the city to date. During my sojourn to the establishment, I sampled homemade black ink tagliolini with jumbo crabmeat served with tomato sauce, sea bass al cartoccio (oven baked in parchment with sautéed clams, tomatoes, basil and capers) and diavola pizza. The tagliolini was impressive. The mix between the sweet crabmeat and the sour tomato sauce worked wonders to my Indonesian palate. The sea bass al cartoccio was just as wonderful, with the clam and tomato broth adding a rich layer of flavour of the tender and sweet sea bass. Lastly, the Diavola Pizza was clearly made for (and indeed helped by) Indonesians what with its generous touch of heat and spice.
But the key here, I should think, is the restaurant’s collection of 190 Italian wines and cocktails. Because if there’s one thing The Union group can be counted on, it is having the right wine for the right meal. I can think of very few places where I can share a brunello and a margherita pizza while looking over the city’s skyline. Caffé Milano has deftly slipped its way into that position.
I ended my visit with a cannoli (YES!) and an elderflower cocktail (elderflower, tonic and Prosecco), a serious sign of things to come indeed.
Grand Indonesia Shopping Town
Central Department Store, Ground Floor
Jl. MH Thamrin No. 1
T: 021 2358 0638
Published in JJK April 2015