Sunday, August 23, 2009

Avorio: Just Not Quite There Yet...

I can't help but notice that Plaza Senayan is quickly becoming a culinary playland for foodies all over Jakarta. What with the openings of various rather high end restaurants, especially around the XXI (cinema) area.

In addition to Fleurie and Sushi Sei, which have been there for a few years even before the section was renovated, the past year has seen many upscale restaurants flourishing around them: Rustique (steak house famous for its aged meat), Pier 6 (fine dining seafood adjoining Equinox & X-Lounge club), Katsura (another Japanese), Marche Movenpick (yes, the restaurant previously located at Gran Melia) and Oyster House (another one of Mr. Wongso's creation, serving anything and everything oyster); and lastly, an Italian joint which grabbed my attention, Avorio.

I had been rather curious with this place ever since I walked by the area and saw the name brandished on the wooden boards covering the then constructed restaurant. It finally opened its door around a month ago and elevated my curiosity even more.

But I restrained myself from exploring it because it exudes an expensive aura, so I had to set the perfect time and find me a company who shares the same passion and view (of food) as I am. But as time slips away, I forgot about it (same goes for other restaurants I'm dying to try but haven't got the chance to).

Then sometime around last week, my mom told me that she went to try this new Italian restaurant at Plaza Senayan with her friends for her arisan lunch. I knew immediately that she was talking about this place.

She told me of how good the food was and told me that we should all go to try it one of these days. So when she asked me whether I wanted to join her and my sister for lunch at Plaza Senayan last Saturday (before they went to see "Mamma Mia!"), I immediately jumped into the boat and suggested that we eat at this place.

Upon entering it, I got this mixed feeling about the interior. It's dominated with grey color, punctuated with white and purple here and there, in an attempt to make it look sleek and stylish. But the material and especially the furniture picks made it look like it's trying too hard to look posh, as they looked cheap with bad finishing, especially the tables.

Clockwise (L-R): pan seared scallops with spinach, asparagus & pea soup, 
pomodoro lobster spaghetti, angel hair with tuna, caper & olives

But oh well, let's move on to the food. Since we're all foodie ladies with mind on their belly and waistline, we decided that we should order the food to share. My mom went for the pomodoro lobster spaghetti she raved about, and my sister went for asparagus and pea soup and angel hair pasta with tuna, caper, and olives, while I settled for an appetizer of pan-seared scallops with spinach and crispy parma ham drizzled with balsamic sauce. And since I couldn't get any wine to accompany the dishes because they don't serve alcohol during Ramadhan (sniff...), I settled for an interesting looking fusion drink, pandan infused lemonade.

A few seconds after the waiter left, I changed my mind and wanted to switch my scallop to a main course of baked sole fish instead (which my mom said was good too) but the waiter said that the orders couldn't be canceled because it was already sent to the kitchen. A bit of a turn off for me, since it was only a few seconds away and I assume they hadn't started cooking it yet..

When the orders came, I was not really disappointed by the presentation of my order, though I winced a bit at the small serving (well they didn't call it appetizer for nothing). But as for the taste, the scallops were juicy and succulent, they were cooked just right. The sauce adds a tangy touch but not too overwhelming. And the soft spinach and crispy ham gave the dish a unique texture. It was my favorite among the other dishes -so I made a wise choice I guess.

My sister's soup was nice and creamy, though not fabulous. Her angel hair pasta was more of a success. It was perfectly cooked al dente (angel hairs are quite tricky to cook due to its delicate shape), the light olive oil sauce was the right company to balance the tuna, olive, and capers. On the contrary, the lobster pasta that my mom raved about turned out to be a disappointment. While the pasta was perfectly cooked and the lobster meat was fine, the should-be rather acidic sauce was way too salty. So salty that it killed the natural tomato taste. We couldn't finish it in the end, but we did scoop out every last bit of the lobster meat as it would be a dear loss not to, considering the mondo price we paid for this particular plate.

Warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce

For dessert, we settled for the very-much-inviting warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and berry sauce on the side, which was quite beautifully and artistically presented on a long rectangular plate. The cake itself was well made -moist and soft with a very rich dark chocolate taste. The vanilla ice cream was quite dense though not as fragrant as Bakerzin's, and the berry sauce was delightfully tangy. We dug our way into it enthusiastically.

Summing up the experience, I should say that it was a pleasant albeit not fantastic experience. I wouldn't mind coming back again one day -maybe not too soon. But I wouldn't refuse the offer should anyone wants to treat me here (including my mom, of course).

But should I pay for myself, I'd save my pennies for Puro. Or perhaps I should revisit Rosso.

Ristorante & Bar
Plaza Senayan, P4 fl. Unit CP 409
P: +62 21 57900277
F: +62 21 57852773

* Originally posted in Multiply, September 29, 2008

P.S. sorry about the low quality pictures, I took them with my mobile phone as I didn't have any proper camera with me at that time

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