Imagine how splendid it would be if our home was positioned right next to a place that serve a fulfilling breakfast in the morning, an unpretentious and innovative array of food for the whole day, plus a variety of intoxicating cocktails to cap your demanding day in the capital. For those of you who live in Mega Kuningan’s Bellagio Mansion, well, you’re darn lucky. Cause something cool is lurking near your lobby. It’s called The Safe House, and it’s quite the house.
It really is. Head past its reception and you might just feel a sudden change in climate; with its quaint wooden tiles lining up the floor, and the neat fold-able shutters guarding the place from the city’s ominous heat, this place is really nifty. For a brief moment we thought we were transported to a spot in Bali. And that’s high praise given its ability to make us forget that we were actually located in traffic-contagious, pollution-heavy and stress-inducing Jakarta. And this was just the outer terrace section of it.
Head inside and things are still nifty as hell. An extended bar lined up one side of the wall, another was gloriously covered with that passage from Trainspotting (“Choose your future. Choose life”). Across this literal wall is a sleek display of futuristic shoes from the label SomeAreThieves, at which it actually doubles as the brand’s shop as well. Granted, the imaginative people of SomeAreThieves actually run this establishment. Step upstairs and you’ll find their laid back open office next to the 2nd floor terrace, which was aptly decked with bean bags for us to recline.
There’s an open kitchen downstairs and within it reside chef (although he hates being called ‘chef’; he also hates Michelin and Mario Batali) Tomasso Gonfiantini. Talk with him and you’ll feel his passion for Italy, fresh quality ingredients and also gorengan (especially the wickedly crispy versions we can find on the streets), all of which you can savor in his menu.
Tomasso didn’t train to be a cook during his early years in Florence. That is until he worked at his parents’ restaurant in the small town of Prato where he fell in love with cooking for people and the connections he felt from serving them. He moved to Rome in 2010 to train under the renowned Filippo La Mantia, who essentially taught him the platitudes of Michelin. He then continued his training in Tuscany at the famed restaurant Gambero Rosso (closed in 2008, but it did hold 2 Michelin Stars and ranked #12 in the world in 2008) under the guidance of the master Fulvio Pierangelini. It was an enviable career for many aspiring chefs.
In turn, his vast experience and heightened appreciation towards quality ingredients clearly showed in his food. Consider the pair of impressively House-Cured Salmon with dill, mustard and sour cream on top of a sliced Baguette. The combination of colors will arouse many Instagram pictures, while the mustard helped balance the saltiness of the fish and sour cream.
Tomasso likes to call his cuisine “Italian with a modern twist”, case in hand was his Seafood Conchiglie Pasta (a clam shaped pasta and quite fitting for the dish’s seafood content) that was mixed with a mayhem of fresh seafood such as Mussels, Prawns, Asari Clams. It was then finished with an appropriate dose of spicy sauce made from cabe merah. Yeah, he can conjure up weird stuff like that. But somehow it worked. Although a little more cabe would’ve elevated this dish much more.
Our favorite dish turned out to be Tomasso’s favorite as well, their signature Hand-Cut Burger. Three things impressed us here. We loved the Homemade Soft Bun’s fluffy texture and subtle flavor, a superior alternative from generic stale buns out there. His Chili Mayo that was generously covering the surface of the patty was also a winner. But most superb was his Angus Beef Patty which was a precise mixture of 70% knife cut and 30% machine minced. It added a more coarse and chewy texture to the meat, reminding us that we are in fact eating beef and not mush, while also enhancing the beefy flavors in every morsel. It tasted like how bad you miss your Mom on a bad day. We liked it. Fiercely. Absolutely.
The dolce course arrived and we got a tray of neat-looking mini shooters of Vanilla Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce, Classic Italian Tiramisu, “Our Way” Apple Pie (composed of biscuits, cream and apple compote), and also Vanilla + Lemon Crème Brûlée with Blueberry. Each of them were well made and appropriately portioned for those who just had a filling burger for starters.
Perhaps it was the slow afternoon breeze that seeped through silver shutters onto our faces, or the charming meal that Chef Tomasso had cook for us. But life felt good here. Amidst the highly kinetic, heated and frenetic scene of Jakarta, once in a while we need a place to let everything go and slow down. Until the precious moment that we lay ourselves on our bed once again, we’re just going to surrender and put ourselves in the safe hands of The Safe House.
Words by Duwi Satrio
Photos by Arifadel Nurez
Lobby Level, Bellagio Mansion
Lingkaran Mega Kuningan, Jakarta
P: +6221 3005 0510