Helen’s Fine Foods & Patisserie

garlic and butter escargot @ helen's

Dear fellow tasters,

This would be my premier post for this blog.  It was 2nd of October, second day of ‘Lebaran’ holiday 2008 in Jakarta and my friends and I decided to visit a new place that they’ve been dying to go to.  The place is called Helen’s Fine Foods and Patisserie and it’s located on Jalan Wolter Monginsidi, South Jakarta.  We reached the place just in time for lunch, thanks to the light traffic in Jakarta during ‘Lebaran’ week and apparently they’ve just opened up after the holiday and we’re their only customers.  The restaurant located at the upper floor was not ready yet, so we settled for the lounge table at the ground floor near the bakery.

The waiter served us complimentary bread butter and cheese sticks.  We decided to order garlic butter escargot to share for the appetizer.  My friends ordered steak on mash and lobster thermidor for the main course while I ordered the duck balsamico that the waiter recommended for us.  The complementary bread tasted quite good for just plain bread, so we were pretty excited anticipating how our orders would taste like.

The escargot was the first to arrive at our table and we anxiously reached for the clamp thingies and struggled to stick our forks inside the shells.  Putting aside the gross thoughts about snails, it turned out that that the escargot tasted very good, just like mussels, but yummier.  No wonder the French treats them as delicacies.  To digress a little bit, here in Indonesia, especially in Java, we have similar versions of escargot.  To mention one, I have tasted once ‘sate bekicot’ or snails satay when I was back in my hometown in Central Java and I can tell you they’re not bad, just as good as Semarang’s famous ‘sate kerang’.  Also, there is the ‘rakyat jelata’ (proletarian) food called ‘kroco’ which is basically rice paddies snails usually boiled with shredded coconut and other seasonings.

OK, back from the digression.  Here came the main course.  My friend’s steak on mash was the good traditional steak on top of mash potato, well done, but a little bit tiny according to him.  I tasted a little bit of the steak and the grilled asparagus.  They tasted decent, though it might be juicier if grilled to medium.  The steak was the most expensive of our main course and it could have been better considering the price.  My other friend’s lobster thermidor was delightful, a decent sized lobster with mushrooms and rich creamy sauce with rice and veggies on the side, really value for money.  Finally my duck balsamico was quite delectable.  The duck tasted delicious, quite tender and different than regular roast duck.  The salty duck, served with sour balsamic sauce, and sweet fruit and vegetable salad with vinaigrette dressing, were a perfect combination of tongue-tickling taste.

Recovering from a delightful culinary experience, we were considering what to order for dessert.  I thought of looking up the slice cake display but they didn’t have a lot of option to choose at that time due to the holiday.  Thus, we decided just to share a crepe desert that I forgot the name of.  The crepe was quite nice, served with mandarin pieces, vanilla ice cream and white wine sauce, a scrumptious finale to our fancy dining out.

I think I’m gonna conclude each post by putting up some notes about my favorite dish, what to order next time I visit the place, my ratings about the food, price, and ambiance.

The taster’s notes:
Favorite dish – the escargot, lobster thermidor, and duck balsamico
What to order next time – the grilled oxtail that my friend mention,  maybe the pasta, ohh… the foie-gra (better save up some money for that one cause it’s pretty pricey), and the cakes
Food rating – 4 star
Price rating – $$ (well, it’s quite value for money if there is some discount; when we visited Helen’s, they’re having 50% discount on HSBC credit card)
Ambiance rating – 3 star



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