Jl. Wijaya I no. 25
Tel. 722 1188
The food, permit me to start with that, is slightly incongruous to the rather glib attempt at marrying fine dining, subterranean vamp and elite club. Like the multi-level cavernous chic of the interior, food here is ostensibly designed to impress, case in point being the forest of greens dotted by dainty escargots in garlic butter-which makes a titillating and tasty salad-and a menu that includes such well-meaning lovelies as seared duck foie gras and dry fig and apple tart with cranberry sauce, and magret of duck served with potato salardaise and roasted figs with a choice of sauces. Also impressive is the wine list, which at its lowest price range is already such a treat (try an ultra smooth 2004 Kinel Carmenere-out of this world!-or the 2002 Tabali.)
While you can sense a particular attention to the balance, it is mainly on paper; this explains why a spinach and mushroom salad, otherwise flapping with freshness, buckles under a strong, almost inedible mustard sauce, or why an otherwise dainty piece of St Pierre fillet atop a cauliflower puree surrounded by a shallow pool of butter caper sauce-which has the tender eloquence of poetry-somehow tastes flat.
What by now seems to be a general case of flawed parts making up a weak whole has us asking again why a fricassee of slightly overcooked curry-kissed scallops served with mushroom, roasted baby potatoes, pink garlic and lettuce sauce-despite its sublime intentions-seems nigglingly under-accomplished. The Wagyu steak, somewhat baffingly, also manages to defy its provenance and is anything but the perfect hue of pink, while the two-tiered tower of watercress puree atop a red capsicum flan, a totally useless thing, seems a mere architectonic afterthought.
Most dissapointing, however, are the desserts, all of which take 20 minutes to prepare: the chocolate melt, while boasting an affably light, airy texture, is almost choc-shorn-there is none of the giddy detonation of molten liquid dark-chocolate insides, which defies the entire point of the dessert. Meanwhile, the praline souffle tastes and looks like your failed cake experiment in high school.
Not that it somehow matters: The Nine Muses, with its gothic eclecticism, seductive lighting and labyrinthine baroque-feel, is a curiously great place to linger, and the jazz never detracts from conversations. Weekend nights are almost always booked out and often spill out to the courtyard, angled as a private party patio, and can be pleasantly cool during the rainy season. The knowing and professional service helps the bill go down at the end of the meal more smoothly.
Price range: Around Rp 1,200,000 - Rp 2,000,000 for 2 (with a bottle of wine)
Operating hours: 19:00 - 00:00
Dress code: smart
Atmosphere: clubbish, subterranean swank
Alcohol: excellent wine list, full bar
All major credit cards accepted
Reviewed: January 2008