Friday, August 21, 2009

Cheers! To Cork & Screw.

Wine. That velvety liquid regarded as luxury here. That sexy substance which could spice up any situation. Hmm…

I’ve never been a big fan of wine and have always leaned towards hard liquor more. Simply because I considered wine as too light and expensive. Thus, it is inefficient – if you know what I mean.

I would opt for wine if I were to go for a chill out time, maybe for a nice laid-back fancy dinner, which I don’t really do. Me and me friends would usually just go all out and party hard, cheaper than a fancy wine and dine. Second option is to chill at a cozy lounge and just chit-chat through the night, over wine or any cocktails of course.

The later I really love. There were days when I would opt for lounges over loud clubs anytime (remember Manna Lounge?). Problem is, it’s rather hard to find such ‘subtle’ places in this city.

Sure, we pretty much have it all down here when it comes to nightlife. Great fancy clubs and bars with its beautiful crowd and loud pumping music, opened until wee hours. But I found that most places nowadays are either too loud (and too wild) or closed too early.

One of my favorite place, Samarra, only opens until 1 a.m. on weekends. Not late enough for many of us (1 a.m.? The party’s just getting started!). The ones opened for 24 hours only sell coffee – no complaints on this though, being a caffeine junkie who likes to hang out, I’m an avid supporter of any 24 hours coffee places. Point is, when it comes to a cool nice venue to just chill out (and get a bit light-headed), the options are sadly, rather limited.

That is, until there is Cork&Screw.

Those of you who missed Manna Lounge, back in its early years before it was transformed into the RnB club, Manna House (now closed and received a facelift into Public), do rejoice and celebrate! Here’s a wine lounge/restaurant that could really meet our standards. 

Not only does this place is opened until quite late, though not really until the wee hours (well, it is still not a club), but it provides us with a wide array of wine options – supplied by Vin+. Price wise, we could select from the fancy cheap to the (inexpensive) fine vintage. The selection is also diverse in terms of regions, from Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and (of course) France.

My friends and I, being price conscious connoisseurs, would usually go for the cheap Australian (ranging from Rp. 130K/bottle and up). But my favorite is the sweet cheap and chic dessert wine, Moscato d'Asti (sold for Rp. 160K/bottle). With only 5% alcohol content and its sweet taste, it’s my perfect partner for a laid back night. Heck, I think I finished a bottle by myself last time.

If you’re not into popping any bottle, you could always opt for the cocktails. The Sangrias, red or white, are recommended. I couldn’t say that I fancy it very much, the fruit combination is not as good as that of Samarra's, but it is stronger in taste, which means you get what you deserve for the price that you pay. And everyday, starting from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., you can enjoy a (truly) happy hour: guzzle down two selections of reds and two selections of whites for only Rp. 150K.

What’s more, not only can this place quench our (undying) thirst, but it could also satisfy the epicurean in us. The food here is superb. Being a wine concept lounge didn’t make them forget this important part that would make up for that perfect 5 stars. The kitchen is run by Koi restaurant, a name very well known for its excellent food, especially European food. 

Cheese Souffle with Tomato Cream Sauce

A must try is the snails in puff pastry with mushroom cream sauce, delicious bite size morsels perfect for sharing with friends. The cheese soufflé was outstanding. Made with 2 kinds of cheese (one is emmenthal, the other I forgot) and served with tomato cream sauce and toasted baguettes, this creamy creation is truly an ultimate must-try for cheese lovers.

They also (surprisingly) did a good Pad Thai (with a good price and a very generous portion too). For dessert, baked apple tart with vanilla sauce is just yummy -- not too sweet and slightly crisp, and it comes in a pizza-like shape and size so you could share with friends. The home-made sorbets are also pleasure for the tongue.

My only complaint of this place is their music. For a place intended to be a venue to meet, greet, mingle, and chat, the ambiance music is just way too loud. How was one supposed to strike a good conversation on top of that loud noise? Unless I’m in a club then it’s understandable, the louder the better. But this is a lounge/restaurant, the music is supposed to serenade us through our conversations, not compete with it. And it’s supposed to build up a good mood, not ruin it.

And as it normally happens to all ultra-cool places in town, this place is always jam-packed. It gets heavily crowded almost every night. On weekends, if you hope to get any place to sit – be it a sofa or a table – it is strongly recommended that you make reservations in advance, sometimes for 3 days ahead. Yupe, that’s how hip this place is. Not a surprise, considering this place could cater to all the wine connoisseurs in us, no matter what size is our bank accounts. Thus, it entices us to keep coming back for more.

Now everyone can drink, and cheers to that.

Wisma Kodel GF,
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. B-4
Jakarta 12920
+62 21 52902030

* Originally posted in Multiply, July 19, 2007. Some changes have been made on the place recently, including the menu and interior. But rest assured, the quality's still the same and I still enjoy visits to this place every once in a while.

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