Sun, 26 Jan 2003

B's Bar & Lounge: New watering hole with potential

What on earth is going on around here? Just about every new bar I've been to of late has been as dead as the morgue, or even Bekasi on a wet Sunday. Could it be the dreaded BO again? Or could it be that large, red, Cyclopean-eye carbuncle suppurating out of my forehead? After all, they didn't call me the Man from Buncle at school for nothing!

Or could it simply be that I'm an abysmal failure when it comes to choosing venues for a bit of the ol' carousing and wassailing?

Who knows. But there's one thing that's as clear as my big, red carbuncle, and that's the fact that B's Bar & Lounge was laboring under a crippling weight of emptiness on the Saturday evening of our visit recently.

Normally, a bar being deserted at around 10 p.m. on what should be the most happening night of the week is unforgivable in my book. However, in the case of B's, I think, taking all things into consideration, a reprieve is well in order.

You see, B's is located in the Sudirman Central Business District, right beside Bengkel, and has more or less tended to concentrate on the after-office hours drinkers, you know, those hardened tipplers who spend all day dreaming of the trough, and then spend about 4 hours glugging it down like there's no tomorrow before rushing off home to their poor, long-suffering wives and loved ones (Come on, jealously will get you nowhere! -- Ed).

Such is the clientele to which B's is devoted, or so I've been told by all concerned.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of a clientele of any sort on the evening of our visit. In fact, apart from ourselves, there was only one other couple in the joint, a pair of young lovers tentatively canoodling in one of the many dark, romantic corners that B's is blessed with.

And it is these dark nooks and crannies that could well turn out to be one of the major strengths of B's. For it is very, very dim in here indeed, just the place, in fact, to bring her (or him, as the case may be) out on that nerve-wracking first date.

As for overall looks, when you walk in through the big, plate- glass doors, the first thing that strikes you is the eye-catching decor (what you can see of it, that is). This is true-blue New York cool/chic run riot. Lots of soft brown wood contrasted with equally abundant shades of dark brown and black, with the whole ensemble set off by smoochy-woochy dim, yellow lighting -- again just the thing to encourage a bit of romance in even the stoniest of hearts.

The bar itself stretches along one wall and seems to be a tad more brightly lit than the rest of the joint (they've even got a TV high up on the wall), while facing the bar there's a big, long, exceedingly dark alcove that seems perfectly designed for all manner of amorous souls -- and precisely the place where I dragged my date for the evening (didn't get anywhere, mind you).

One of the highlights of B's is the little, tree-shaded terrace that leads of this dark alcove. With a few tables set together and a great view of the hordes of beautiful people walking into and staggering out of Bengkel, this could be a great place to while away an hour, or four, with your mates (by the way, it's a sliding door, so don't go pushing and shoving at it as I did).

As for damage to the wallet, a draught local beer will hit you for Rp 25,000, while such foreign interlopers as Heineken, Corona or Miller MGD will all set you back Rp 38,000. As for the harder stuff, a J.W. Black comes in at Rp 40,000, a John Jameson Irish at Rp 35,000, and a Hennessy V.S.O.P cognac at Rp 70,000. Meanwhile, most cocktails are in the Rp 45,000 to Rp 50,000 range.

And don't forget, during weekdays they've got a great extended happy hour going from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. where you not only get 50 percent off draught beer, but also a free beer for every one you buy. Even better on Saturdays when this incredible deal runs all day long.

Given the absence of fellow tipplers to gawk at, and a certain unresponsiveness on the part of my date, in the end I decided to take refuge in food. Not a bad choice as it happened, for their vegetable spring rolls (Rp 30,000) turned out to be yummy, their fajitas steak and chicken sandwich (Rp 45,000) scrumptious, and their chicken cordon bleu sandwich (Rp 40,000) ginormous.

Walking out through the door, large doggy bag in hand, I couldn't help thinking that it's really a crying shame that B's isn't packing them in at weekends (even if the opposite is the case after office hours on weekdays). This joint really does have so much going for it -- real friendly and efficient service, great decor and excellent nosh. In fact, all that was missing during our visit was people.

This may, hopefully, be due to the fact that B's has only been around for about three months and has yet to get the word around. Whatever the case, this particular watering hole really does deserve better, so give it a whirl and who knows, B's might be a' jumpin' and a' jivin' up there with the best of them in no time at all!

B's Bar & Lounge, Lot 14 SCBD, Jl. Sudirman Kav. 52-53, Jakarta 12190 (you can call them on 5155488). Hours: Mon to Thurs: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., Fri: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sat: 3:15 p.m. to 2 a.m., closed Sundays. All prices quoted above exclude 21 percent tax and service. All major credit cards accepted.

-- Bill Blade