In Kemang there is no shortage of home style restaurants where generous portions of delicious dishes are served up in artsy environs. Indeed, these restaurants offer a bit of a respite – not just from the madding crowd – but also from the tedium of mundane mall fare.
Tucked away in an unsuspecting corner just outside Lippo Mall is FJ Grill. I must state at the outset that I visited on a rather grey, cloudy day. On entry, the warm, earthy tones were especially welcoming as I pondered my options of either a seat indoors among a beautifully curated set of art work (including frames suspended on the ceiling) or outdoors among plants and other lush greenery (the hanging plants provided sufficient shelter from the sheets of rain cascading outside). Alternatively, diners have the option of saddling up to the bar where a range of drinks are on offer.
Sipping on a lychee martini—made with the right alcohol to flavouring ratio— I perused the extensive menu which offers a good balance between western and Asian favourites, all with a Mediterranean twist.
The Camembert Garden Salad was a good introduction. Mesclun greens were tossed together with raisins, green apple, pomegranate, quinoa, pears and of course generous slices of Camembert. The light vinegarette dressing served alongside held the right amount of tang to balance the generally sweet tones of the dish, the Camembert bolstered the rest of it. The portions were definitely bistro size and set the stage for the rest of the meal ahead.
I was served a fish course which involved a whole Barramundi, pan fried, and served with a delightful mix of ratatouille and fresh greens along with some bitterballen for a bit of contrast. The fish – boneless - was perfectly seared with the right amount of crispy skin to crack through to get to the meaty flesh. A hearty dish worthy of its own course, it is worth noting here too that the fish was incredibly fresh and certainly moorish.
Where there is a grill there’s theatre and so it was at FJ. Wagyu steak arrived at the table coated in a rather delicious creamy mushroom sauce with a hint of brandy mixed in. Set alight in flambe style at the table, the brandy, now burnt of all alcohol, yielded a gloriously rich taste to complement the creamy texture all around. This was the perfect bistro – and grill– dish, and if eaten alongside the french fries, quite the treat. The ideal accompaniment of course would be a glass of red and with house pours from Penfolds, a meal here certainly hits the high notes.
A meal as rich and filling as this is worthy of a proper, sweet finish. As with the rest of the menu there are plenty of options for those with a sweet tooth to indulge. After the rather gutsy mains and salads, it’s perhaps a good idea to finish up on a slightly lighter note and so I went with the pisang goreng with butterscotch and cheese. Served hot – and best eaten straight away – the crispy banana fritters are devoid of grease and sweet on their own. When combined with the shredded cheese and dipped into the delicious pot of butterscotch, it took it from delicious to sublime. The balance of flavours was more than just a journey through decadence.
Ironically the clouds parted at this point but the cooler air outside served as the perfect backdrop to this warm, comforting meal in all of its sizzling, crispy, delicious decadence. Departing into the rain splashed evening streets, my mind had been made up. This was a restaurant worth returning to, time and time again.