Bistro Baron honestly represents French cuisine on foreign soil. It does not succumb to the popular myth that French-influenced food is high falutin’ and boujie. Instead, its menu resonates with the historically rustic origins of dishes born in the kitchens of Western Europe’s farmers and fishermen. A visit to the Bistro is a (re)discovery of the traditional flavours of broad-based French cuisine. The Bistro’s atmosphere is strongly nuanced and convincing. Guests easily forget that they are in Jakarta’s Plaza Indonesia Mall on Jalan MH Thamrin. The dining area, pungent with nostalgic décor and solo accordion music, leads to a brilliantly staffed, fully stocked bar to enjoy. Let’s start there shall we?
° Whimsical Mixed Beverages
Beverages cover the spectrum between popular and whimsical. All orders come with the drink’s components cat-walked on the bar and a lively description from the bartender. Their selections excel in perfecting the familiar, like hand-selected oranges for freshly squeezed juice that is as sweet as honey. Also, there are twists and tweaks that commendably incorporate local Indonesian produce such as La Pucelle – a drink laced with fresh local passion fruit and vanilla-infused syrup. There’s a respectable wine list and exceptional delights like chocolate martinis and aged Negroni.
° Proper French Dishes
The spirits set the mood for the food. Reviews often sum up their subjects into quip-like descriptions. But the emotions these dishes evoke demand a comment or two. There is pride in the fact that the tuna pasta is made with homemade freshly caught and prepared chunked tuna. There is happiness in the fried potatoes sprinkled with parmesan, drizzled with truffle oil and a side dollop of garlic mayonnaise.
You find authenticity in the rustic terrine de foie gras and fig chutney served with properly toasted correctly made whole-wheat bread in which you will find al-dente bits of cracked grains.
It is what the French eat with no compromise towards the Indonesian preference for “bread” that is actually chemically laden white puffiness, sacre bleu! Another star is their classic beef Rossini. Its nucleus is a plump filet minion that is properly cooked and handsomely set atop a brioche crostini which floats on a sea of browned butter, whipped potatoes, and steamed vegetables. A pan-kissed delicate foie gras crowns the dish. It is accurately seasoned (not salty, not bland) with no shortcuts made on the ingredients.
° Desserts that Represent
Dessert offerings include a light pistachio-flavoured crème brulee, and the real crème-de-la-crème a fantastic fondant au chocolat. Put this on order and while you wait, read the following observation: Experience teaches every foodie to be sceptical of dishes served just minutes after ordering. Having a dish magically appear is a tell-tale sign of a kitchen that’s become too lazy to prepare homemade and produce made-to-order. Now remember that fondant au chocolat you ordered? There is a 20-minute wait before you get the goods. Why? They literally make the cake from scratch and serve it fresh out of the oven. The wait is not in vain. Soon you have before you a plate of chocolate cake with a lava-like chocolate centre and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It demands your attention, forces you to notice, and tattoos a tasteful memory.
We end our review with that mental picture. That kind of respectful approach for a cake is repeated in everything Bistro Baron produces. Our conversation with the head chef included a few humbly told stories of their heroic efforts to obtain real-McCoy ingredients. What he tells us comes through in the food. This place has high standards. You will not find shortcuts or substitutions. There is only authenticity and respect for some of the greatest rustic French dishes known to man.
Jalan M.H. Thamrin Kav. 28 – 30
Jakarta 10310, Indonesia
T: (+61) 21 2992 3505 – 06