“The easiest to find landmark would be Pad28. We are right across from it,” said the lady over the phone as I made reservations for lunch at Entrada Restobar. I do appreciate restaurant staffs making extra effort and attention to new patrons. So my lunch partner, Nicky, and I went there with a positive vibe, under the assumption that the service over the phone would reflect the reality.
As soon as I entered, I immediately noticed the cave like stone brick wall decorations, the neo-goth chandelier on the high ceiling and the Persian carpets wrapped around the benches. Not your typical Spanish decorations, but I guess eclectism is the norm nowadays in Jakarta bars and restaurants. Like most latin-oriented eateries, the place would look so much livelier and more befitting at night rather than during the day. However, in my case, once a tapas mood strikes around lunchtime, who am I to fight it?
The focus is fully on the Spanish cuisine, and unlike Plan B Spanish Bistro in Permata Hijau, there are no Asian options in the menu. We decided to order some of the ‘classics’ such as champinones, chorizo tortillas, gambas al ajillo, gazpacho, patatas bravas and we topped it off with a main dish and coffee. The attentive staff not only assured me a table with the least feel of AC blowing down my neck, she also appetizingly recommended and described a chef-special consisting of pesce with minced carne and grilled banana. She pretty much convinced us that this was the must-try main dish right after our tapas order and we were happy to comply.
Unfortunately the classics and the chef recommendation did not pan out as well as the waitress described. The shrimps, the potatoes, the gazpacho, the tortilla and the mushrooms all felt a bit flat, as if not thoroughly marinated or just added last minute in an overcooked marinade. We were also disappointed by the overwhelming burnt scent and taste of garlic slices in the champinones and the main course was in reality battered yet soggy fried fish pieces covered in a mixture of minced beef with cubes of carrot and peas microwaved straight from the freezer pack. The patatas bravas underwent a house remix and so what we had in front of us were potato wedges with a red sauce on the side instead of the usual square cuts of potato smothered in spicy tomato. I’m all up for house remixes or renditions of the classics, but the wedges really felt out of tune and made me miss the good old bravas.
Tapas is meant for sharing and the portions were just right for 2. In comparison to the portions at the tapas bar Movida in Cipete, Entrada could learn a bit more from their generosity. A lot of work still needs to be done to get the taste right. Entrada has pinned down the intention but not yet caught the spirit of Spanish cuisine. People who have tried tapas before will not be too impressed by the kitchen, but will probably come back for non-gastronomic, post-office cerveza type of occasions. We love how the place is properly lit during daytime, despite the heavy and saloon goth-like decorations and we can imagine how lively and cozy it can be at night. Entrada has enclosed corners for private dinners and small meetings with a maximum of 10 people.
Details I like
- Persian rugs on benches make quite a comfortable seating experience.
- The staff is super alert and knows a lot about the dishes.
Details I don’t like
- Ice cream coupes serve as glasses, which is rather tacky.
- The smoking section is too close to the non-smoking tables. You don’t want to smell like a bar after having lunch.
New restaurants are spreading around Jakarta like wildfire. Many of them have similar names and that makes it difficult to find. It is especially the case when they are located in the vicinity of Sudirman Central Business District. Establishments in the SCBD are located in plots of lands scattered about referred to as “Lots”. So if you ever have to ask people for direction in SCBD, go ahead and ask for Lot so-and-so. The restaurant we are reviewing is Entrada Restobar, a new addition to the SCBD neighborhood. Entrada is located at tower E of the 18 Parc building complex where QNB Kesawan Bank is.
Good wait staffs are hard to come across in this city. By good, I mean wait staffs who understand the difference between overselling and assisting. Too often have I met waiters who do not understand their restaurant’s menu. This is a massive no-no, especially in restaurants positioning themselves for the upper class market. Entrada’s wait staff, especially the lady who handled our table, was the exception. She was very knowledgeable. She understood the menu and more importantly, she gave us enough time to think through our choices, which did not take us long considering we are hardcore fans of Spanish tapas. I would definitely give the service a thumbs up.
For a restaurant that focuses on Spanish food, the onus is really on Entrada to dish out spot on Spanish cooking. But that was not the case. Misty already described most of the issues I have with their cooking, so I will not repeat the points. One particular point that I want to add on to our disappointment is the almost non-existent chorizo in the Truita Trempera (potato omelete with chorizo). Granted that in the name of the menu, chorizo is not put as the main feature of the dish. But really? I only found two, puny, cubed slices of chorizo. Has the restaurant already felt the stretch of supply management for a big menu in such an early days of its opening?
Unfortunately I did not get to try their cocktails — attending meetings after lunch with alcohol in my system is not preferable. Otherwise I would probably have experienced what could possibly be the stronger side of Entrada Restobar, i.e., it’s bar. That being said, I would not recommend their food, especially if you are a fan of Spanish food. Their dishes are not well executed. The plating also fell flat, especially with the main fish dish we ordered, in which case it looked like a slap-dash work of putting two slices of caramelized banana, on top of a sunny-side up, on top of a scoop of rice with what looked like an unpleasant pile of minced-meed on its side, when in fact the minced-beef was actually fish. Could the cook be David Copperfield?
Details I like
- Massive windows allowing enough natural light to penetrate.
- The staff!
Details I don’t like
- The industrial, saloon-esque decor fits more of a bar, rather than a restaurant.