Java Bleu Restaurant: Jakarta, West Java

The latest whisper around town is that Java Bleu is back. Having closed its doors a few years ago so Chef Antoine Audran could focus on other ventures, the French-style restaurant is open once again due to popular demand.

Java Bleu serves food that is meant to be shared. It doesn’t offer fine dining with linen tablecloths, chandeliers and white-gloved waiters. Quite the opposite, in fact. Java Bleu presents simple cuisine inspired by the French countryside.

Chef Antoine has lived in Jakarta for many years. He kicked off his career at the Culinary School Ferrandi in Paris and worked his way up over the years. He worked in Michelin restaurants in France, as well as in England, Switzerland, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, before settling down in Indonesia.

Java Bleu is not for everybody — those on strict diets had better stay at home. Expect to be filled to the brim at this homey establishment.

There is no menu in sight at Java Bleu. Rather than wasting time agonizing over pages of choices, a simple chalkboard listing fewer than 10 items is on display.

It’s a hole-in-the-wall establishment typifying the sort of food I like — organic, natural ingredients, and no fussy cooking or presentation.

What you will appreciate about Java Bleu is the lack of pretension — the food actually looks like food and not a plate decoration.

The food at Java Bleu will give you a source of hearty contentment.

There’s a delightful pan-seared foie gras — simple, pure and classical. The mushroom soup, with a clean yet powerful flavor, keeps the cream in the background, allowing the taste of the chanterelle to come through.

The quiche forestiere is cheesy, with mushrooms and a luxurious soft middle to enjoy. It’s a heavy dish with good flavor. The sausages are juicy and delicious. The lamb chops are served medium, flawless in their simplicity.

There’s even horse on the menu, which, while not to my taste, will be appreciated by those who enjoy the gamey aftertaste.
Chef Antoine explained to me the background to his cooking style and love of heritage.

“In France, food is culture, a part of the national heritage that is revered and developed. We do not eat merely to feed our bellies,” he says.

“We do like to combine pleasure with it as well. It’s difficult to explain as it is deeply rooted in our basic education and way of life. Perhaps a genetic touch?”

Are we what we eat?

“People tend to lose their personality and become blander nowadays. Food speaks for itself. Look how many people are staying alive on instant noodles and fast food. It shows people do not take an interest in the taste of food but merely adjust their food habits to their wallet contents as well as the time spent in cooking or eating.

“One of the main issues I would like to raise is the loss of the family core as well as the gastronomic family culture. People are simply losing their basic food knowledge. Losing at the same time what remains of their valuable culinary heritage.”

Chef Antoine is in love with food and his attitude and commitment is reflected in the dishes he serves. Java Bleu remains an unchanging gem in a city of nondescript restaurants.

With your first bite at Java Bleu, you know that you are in for a comforting time. These are the true and tested flavors of the French countryside. The sedate surroundings of the place leave you to focus on the meal itself. Chef Antoine keeps things at an enjoyable and hearty pitch right to the very last bite.

The portions are enormous and it makes much more sense to come in a group. A minimum of five to six people would do the experience justice. Order a few appetizers and main courses and get stuck in! That’s the way to eat at Java Bleu.

* Average
** Good
*** Excellent
**** Extraordinary

Java Bleu
Kompleks Golden Plaza
Jalan Fatmawati No : 15
Blok E 24
Jakarta Selatan
Tel: (021) 7507902
Open Tuesday to Sunday
from 7 p.m. till 9 p.m.

Aman Khan

(Born in Paris, France, Aman Khan studied journalism at Emerson College, Boston MA. He has worked in Jakarta since 2002 and has started to develop a fondness for this fractured fairy tale of a city. In his spare time he can be found being a hedonist in the cellar.)