Fri, 04 May 2001

Aphrodite bar is fit to be tried

JAKARTA (JP): One is naturally a bit skeptical going to a bar/restaurant located in what is, on the main, a fitness club.

You imagine squeezing your flabby body through crowds of fit and toned workout buffs discussing reps and sets, the best exercise to target your lats and the minutiae of high-carb diets, to find yourself at a bar offering a choice of carrot juice and beet juice. You light a cigarette and you feel the glances taking in your potbelly and doughy arms as you are sized up, most likely accurately, as an early coronary.

These fears are assuaged when you peek around the door of the Aphrodite and see all those pretty liquor bottles behind the bar and inviting ashtrays on the tables waiting for your butts. Yes, this is a bar, where people come to drink and smoke and generally do wrong to their bodies. It's a restaurant, too. For whatever that's worth to you.

That said, put down those dumbbells, get off the treadmill and come have a quick peek at Aphrodite.

Location: Located in the Klub Rasuna on Jl. Rasuna Said. You'll find Klub Rasuna right next to Pasar Festival and just in front of the many-towered monstrosity that is the Taman Rasuna Apartments. You can get in touch with Aphrodite at 5263150 or e- mail them at

Hours: Aphrodite opens at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., depending on who you ask, and closes at 2 a.m. It was agreed that it is open seven days a week. Happy Hour is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., entitling you to a buy-one-get-one-free deal on draft beer and house spirits.

But be careful, the place just had its grand opening last week and the waitress seemed a bit unaware of Happy Hour. And there's really no reason to drink Passport if you're not getting a two- for-one deal.

What's it got: Draft Bintang, bottled beer, wine, local and domestic spirits, cocktails, juices, coffee, etc. It has, basically, the same things every other bar in the city has.

There is also a food menu. It is not an extensive menu, with some sandwiches, soups, a few main courses and such, but it is a temporary menu. There is to be a full restaurant opening soon and, presumably, a newer, more varied menu will then be introduced.

Bill, please: Standard stuff here as well. Draft beer Rp 18,500, Heineken Rp 36,000. Jack Daniels, Tanqueray, Absolut Rp 32,000, and so on. The Saturday my companion for the night and I visited, an Absolut, Tequila Sunrise, glass of Cabernet and plate of chicken drumsticks, served with fries, ran us Rp 153,670.

If you drop in for Happy Hour, two Passport whiskies, single, will cost you about Rp 32,000.

Here's looking at you: Aphrodite has a varicose-veined L- shaped bar that is roomy enough, though the bar stools are a bit difficult to get comfortable in, and its hard to imagine spending enough time in one to leave a really lasting imprint. There are a few tables arranged in the little dining area, strategically placed near the really big TV screen. Hell, it's almost a movie screen. There's a pool table off to the other side and some outdoor seating.

The place is well lit and clean, by which I mean not just free of dirt, but neat, with everything in sharp detail like a 1950s malt shop. Which is what one would expect of a bar in a fitness club.

This brings us to the name Aphrodite, which seems a bit poorly chosen for nothing about the place speaks of love or beauty. With a name like Aphrodite one expects a dingy and dark dangdut club, with heavily made-up women lounging on stained couches, mysterious little rooms off to the side where furtive men keep coming and going, the doors closing too quickly to allow a glimpse of what is happening beyond. That is, at least, how I like to picture the Aphrodite during those lonely hours between the end of work and the escape of slumber.

Odds and ends: The Aphrodite just opened so things like the waitress forgetting about Happy Hour can be expected. But it must be said the staff is friendly but not overbearing, and is completely competent. There are no complaints there. Sartorially speaking, though, the waitresses' costumes were a bit questionable. They wear, surely not of their own volition, tunics and sandals of the type that lace around the legs to just below the knees, the result it must be assumed of someone's idea of the clothes worn by the handmaidens of Aphrodite.

My companion commented that flirting with women wearing such footwear would show a complete lack of taste, though I don't believe shoes should ever be a consideration when it comes to flirting.

For your reading pleasure, the bar stocks what appears to be the complete selection of the magazine In Vino Veritas. It's a magazine about wine and the doings of people who drink wine, Vino being I believe something-or-ever for wine. It doesn't make for interesting reading but there are lots of nice pictures of people fairly beaming, wine glasses in hand.

As mentioned earlier Aphrodite is well lit, and the music is kept at the level of background noise. This makes for a good atmosphere for conversation, not of the intimate kind but the robust talk of mates. In other words, don't come alone with a date because conversation is not optional here and you'll likely find yourself staring at each other, the long embarrassing silences punctuated by fits of dull talk.

Last call: Aphrodite is a perfectly usable bar and provides a good place to meet friends, shoot a game of pool and have a few drinks. But it's located in Klub Rasuna and who's going to come here but Klub Rasuna members? The idea of the Aphrodite was no doubt to give club members a place to eat and drink and if a few nonmembers drop in, so much the better. That said, if you happen to be in the neighborhood by all means call in on the Aphrodite, it's worth the effort. (Penn Dawson)