Fri, 23 Feb 2001

Paprika Wine Lounge and Restaurant is red hot

JAKARTA (JP): Word has spread through the city of a new restaurant and bar, or wine lounge if you will. According to the talk, the place is hip, stylish and attracts the in-crowd of chic, good-looking and well-to-do Jakarta residents.

So we decided to take a look at Paprika and see if all the talk was deserved, or just the wishful thinking of a city hungry for good bars and restaurants.

Location: Paprika is found at Jl. Wahid Hasyim 55a, down the street from Hazarah and not too far from Jl. Jaksa, for whatever that's worth. It's easy to spot the signage out front, but in case you are still a little lost, Paprika is the place that looks like a Mercedes showroom out front.

You can reach them at 390-4703 or 390-4704, and you might want to call ahead for a table if you are planning on having dinner.

Hours: The restaurant is open every day from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and opens at 5:30 p.m. for dinner, with last orders at 11:30 p.m. The bar upstairs has the same hours for lunch, and is then open from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. or 1 a.m.

What's it got: There is a restaurant downstairs and a bar upstairs, which is the focus of this review. The bar, being officially referred to as a wine lounge, has a wide selection of vintages. You can order by the bottle or the glass, with a rolling selection offered. You will also find spirits, cocktails, mixed drinks and beer.

You can also order a bite up in the bar, with appetizers including cheese, salami, mushrooms and other such nibbles.

Bill, please: Wine is, generally speaking, more expensive than your average cocktail, so you can always expect to pay a little more at a wine lounge. Which is not say that you can't get some good wine at Paprika at reasonable prices. The price of the beer and cocktails here are standard for your smarter bars in the city.

We had two beers, Heinekens, and a glass of Chardonnay and the bill came to Rp 128,260, including tax and service. Pretty reasonable, particularly considering the stylish surroundings.

Here's lookin' at you: The thing that has most people talking about Paprika is the look of the place. It is stark and minimalist, all open spaces and sharp corners. Some may fell that it's cold, both figuratively and literally, while others may look at it as a chic work of modernism. Whatever your take, there is no denying that is stands out from other establishments in the capital, offering something new that wouldn't be out of place in the trendier areas of New York and other cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Paprika is one big open space, and one gets the feeling of being exposed, which some might find discomfiting, looking for a corner to take shelter in. But shelter is hard to come by. A huge mirror covers most of one very large wall, and it seems impossible to hide your reflection.

When you make your way upstairs to the bar, there are a number of tables looking directly down through the empty space onto the restaurant below. The chairs are boxy things with clean lines and sharp corners, and one finds oneself constantly leaning forward to speak across the space to your companion.

The bar itself is a small affair with only a few stools and very little room to elbow up to for a drink. There are several couches in the space in front of the bar. If it is busy and you can't get a table, the bar offers scant refuge.

So, what's your sign: Paprika attracts young, attractive professionals who clearly have a little extra spending cash in their pockets, but most people seem to come in groups of four or five. It makes for a livelier atmosphere; with loud conversation and laughing, but more difficult if you harbor hopes of getting some phone numbers. In other words, Paprika is not a pick-up joint.

Last call: Paprika is a stylish restaurant and bar, and deserving of the buzz if for no other reason than it offers something new and different from other bars and restaurants in Jakarta. Whether it is an anomaly or the start of a new trend in the city, time will tell. What is certain is that Paprika merits a visit. (Penn Dawson)