You can’t miss the colonial-style Kunstkring Paleis, located on Jl. Teuku Umar in Menteng, Central Jakarta. The historical building, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, was formerly the Fine Arts Circle during the Dutch colonial period in the 1900s, showcasing masterpieces from artists such as Van Gogh and Picasso. That colonial-style artistry and luxury is still very much alive in the architecture and design of Kunstkring Paleis. Tugu Group (the team behind Lara Djonggrang, Dapur Babah and Shanghai Blue) took over the building and transformed it into a stylish restaurant, lounge and café. There is also an art exhibition space on the second floor, as well as private dining rooms. Guests are greeted by the Diponegoro Room’s exotic entrance of dark wood panelling and Javanese partitions. This is the main dining area, decorated with red and white drapes, wood flooring and stunning golden chandeliers. A large painting depicting the capture of Prince Diponegoro dominates the back wall. As you take your seat, you will hear old jazz songs playing in the background. Overall, the style and atmosphere strikes a stunning balance between the Old and New Worlds.
Kunstkring Paleis offers a menu that mixes authentic Indonesian fare and Western dishes. Start with the delectable Chicken Curry Puff appetizer served in white dessert spoons. If you are dining in a large group, opt for the classic Betawi Grand Rijsttafel (roughly translated as “rice table”), which features 13 different traditional dishes carried out by waiters in pikulan-pikulan Betawi style, recreating the traditional Dutch colonial way of feting guests. The Grand Rijsttafel includes karedok Betawi (uncooked vegetables served with peanut dressing), bebek opor (roasted tender duck in spicy coconut curry) and the sweet and spicy semur lidah sapi Betawi (stewed ox tongue flavoured with cloves, nutmeg and sweet soy sauce). Another crowd-pleaser is the roasted lobster in tomato cognac sauce served with saffron pilaf. It is heavy and worth it! A tantalizing mix of Dutch and Indonesian sweets makes it difficult to decide on just one dessert at Kunstkring Paleis. The newest addition to the menu is the traditional Dutch appel-flappen, a crispy apple pancake with cinnamon and vanilla ice cream on the side. There is also the pisang goreng radja, which is crispy banana fritters with palm sugar and young coconut, another reason to love Indonesian sweet treats. With its rich history, royal ambience and extensive menu, Kunstkring Paleis is the venue to explore Indonesian tastes and traditions. Just ask Victoria Beckham and Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, who dined here during their visits last year.