Redefining Hotel Buffet: Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta

August 17, 2015 Ellyna Tjohnardi
When a restaurant names itself as 'Arts Café', it is only natural to expect some serious arts theme going on inside the place, from the decor, interior, to the food. And last week, I had the chance to visit Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta, a brand new 5 star hotel in town, that is the sister property of the fabled and well-established Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Curious how my experience at Arts Café went?
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
This avant garde Chili Crab is one of the signature dishes here
Arts Cafe is one of the 3 dining venues at Raffles Jakarta. If you're an hotel guest staying here, Arts Café is where you'll have breakfast at. Upon entering the venue, to the left, is a gourmet retail store, from where guests could purchase some specialty goods. I didn't take a closer look, so I can't share more details.
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

One quick glance at the venue, a few things impressed me the most: the female staff are dressed in a lovely set of uniform. As in they're not just some boring suit pants or a simple dress, they're modified rather fashionably and elegantly. Come here to see what I mean...And the next interesting thing I notice, is that Arts Café seems to be a popular hangout spot for the regular gathering of affluent housewives. Whether it is for 'Arisan' or a birthday celebration, when you see a photographer hovering in the restaurant, you'll know that one of these crowd would be present. Do not fear though, these ladies are well mannered and will not ruin your meal time with rowdy noise, they'll mind their own businesses (mostly posing for pictures haha!).

And here are some shots of the pretty interior.
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
One of the 2 private rooms at Arts Café
Arts Café serves buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. At the moment the menus are rotating daily and they do not have special themes for different nights (yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time). To be frank, the buffet selection is not massive for a 5 star hotel and there's only 1 live kitchen, or what they call the 'Show Kitchen' (will elaborate on this further down). They've got the basics covered, cheeses, cold cuts, salad, sushi, sashimi, western and asian dishes and dessert.
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Cheese and dried goods
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Elaborate chocolate sculpture at the dessert section
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Assorted Sushi - notice how they are presented not as a bulk like in most other restaurants, but as individual platters
Sashimi - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)


It's interesting to see that they dedicate a massive space for dessert only. Upon closer look, I understand why, when each and every dessert items are so carefully and beautifully crafted like these, how can you resist not showing them all off?
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Left: Not your typical-looking chocolate fondue
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Unlike any other hotel buffet, Arts Café serves complimentary appetizer to the guests. It's a platter consisting 3 types of crackers made in house: black sesame, salmon skin and I forgot what the other one was, served with curry dip. The only time I encountered this was on my recent visit to ADRIFT by David Myers, and thus I'm pleasantly surprised to find a similar treat here, means I don't need to travel so far to get my cravings fixed! Fyi, they crackers are so good, that guests have asked to buy them and good news is, they've been made available for sale.
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Now, the most exciting element of Arts Caféis its one and only Show Kitchen. This is where the signature dishes of Arts Café comes from, cooked and served a la minute...
Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)

So, when you dine at Arts Café, you are not only entitled to enjoy the selection of dishes served at the buffet, but you will be served with the daily-rotating menu of special dishes. The dishes from the Show Kitchen will be served to your table, whether you ask for it or not and every person is only entitled 1 serving per dish (no second helpings, sorry!). For lunch, there will be a total of 6 dishes and for dinner there will be 8 dishes from the Show Kitchen.

These are the sort of magical dishes that the chefs whipped up from the Show Kitchen...

Chili Crab - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Chili Crab - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Chili Crab - charcoal bun with crab meat filling and served with sweet & spicy Chili Crab sauce. This is one of the Show Kitchen's signature dish and will be served daily for both lunch and dinner. A nod to Raffles Hotel's roots in Singapore, where Chili Crab has been elevated to a status akin to Singapore's national dish (pretty much how Nasi Goreng is, to Indonesians).


Salmon en Croute - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Salmon en Croute - salmon sous vide & pan-seared, served with mashed potato, creamy spinach, mushrooms and maple chips. Also one of the Show Kitchen's signature dish and will be served daily for both lunch and dinner. 

Scallop & Mushrooms - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Scallop & Mushrooms - pan-seared Hokkaido scallop, served with mushroom & mushroom crackers


Gnocchi & Egg - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Gnocchi & Egg - delish gnocchi, sous vide egg, dried black fungus, truffle oil and served with cream sauce.


Beef Short Ribs - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Beef Short Ribs - tender beef short ribs served with mashed potato, water chestnut & brown sauce.


Foie Gras - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
(photo above) Foie Gras - pan-seared foie gras, served with berry jam, beetroot & crumble.

I was impressed from the moment the Chili Crab in a black bun came to my table, I loved literally everything that came my way! I can't and I won't rank the dishes above, even at gun point, because they are each delightful and well executed. But if I really must pick a champ, it would be the Beef Short Ribs, sweet juicy and tender cubes of premium beef short ribs, with sweet water chestnut and mashed potato. I didn't expect the dishes from the Show Kitchen to be so filling, that I didn't even get to touch anything from the buffet, not even the dessert :( But it was a happily satisfying kind of full, so I'm not complaining at all =)

For the standard price of a 5 star hotel buffet you paid, not only do you get to feast from the buffet, but you also get the degustation meal comprising 6 or 8 dishes (lunch / dinner). Fear that the buffet might be too much? You could always choose from the a la carte menu, such as this Nicoise Salad with tuna tataki...
Nicoise Salad with tuna tataki - Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta (www.culinarybonanza.com)
Nicoise Salad with tuna tataki
Dining at Arts Café by Raffles Jakarta has been a scrumptious and gratifying experience for me, and I can safely say, so far there are no other 5 star hotels in Jakarta offering the same experience. The next time someone asks me for a hotel buffet reference, Arts Café will definitely be my top 3 recommendation and I strongly encourage you to try it too. =)

Operation Hours:
Breakfast: 6:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Lunch: 12:00 noon to 2:30 PM
Dinner: 6:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Sunday Brunch: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM

Prices:
Lunch Buffet: IDR 320,000++/person
Dinner Buffet: IDR 385,000++/person

*) Prices are subject to 21% Government Tax & Service Charge

Raffles Jakarta
Ciputra World 1 Jakarta
Jl. Professor Doktor Satrio No.3-5
South Jakarta - 12940
Ph: +6221 29880888
Directions: Lotte Shopping Avenue, access via entrance next to Blacklisted Coffee on 1st Floor.

For live and regular updates,
stalk my Instagram: @ellynatjohnardi

Read more...

Previous Article
1945 Indonesian Fine Dining
1945 Indonesian Fine Dining

Out of so many fine dining restaurants in Jakarta, how many Indonesian fine...

Next Article
Even more Breadlicious: BreadLife Launches New Unique Flavours!
Even more Breadlicious: BreadLife Launches New Unique Flavours!

Can you say no to this array of scrumptious assorted bread from...