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Rosso: The Elegance of Temptation

Published 01 June 2007   

The red hot Italiano in Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta, ROSSO has elevated the city’s standard of a smart casual dining scene. VE HANDOJO found himself under-dressed compared to, let’s say, the cutlery.

Years ago, I found myself committing fashion suicide while dining in the burgundy-shaded Margaux, only wearing a T-shirt. The French fine dining was then replaced with an Italian, Rosso. Traumatized, I called a week in advance to make sure what kind of place it was. The PR lady then convinced me that Rosso was not a fine dining establishment. So, I kept that Calvin Klein black-tie on the shelf.

Yes, the PR girl was right. Yes, it was not a place for a Saville Row-cut double-breast. Yes, it was no place for mesdames et messieurs with hair-dos more staggering than their attitude.

But nobody told me that each and every staff memeber there wears a different kind of red-colored designer gown and shirt. Nobody said a thing about contemporary art pieces done by Avant-Garde artists placed all around the venue. Nobody warned me about the stylish wavy silverware. (Of course, I didn’t ask.)

“You see the model appearing in our print ads and billboards? She is actually one of our staff,” the PR girl explained proudly. ….Right

There I was, sitting in a hyper-chic environment, with upper Italian designs, waited on by a female model, and I was only wearing GAP. If this was a fashion magazine, my review would fall into the “Share Your Worst Fashion Nightmare” column, and tagged Letter of The Month.

“This is smart casual dining,” the PR girl continued with a look in her eyes that added, mentally, “So, dress smart!” I couldn’t blame her, especially noticing her Dolce & Gabbana cellphone.

Honestly, I kind of hoped the food would be flawed so I could make a lot of protests, thus salvaging my pride and dignity as a “smart casual” food critic. The Rosso Punch gave a gentle jab to that petty intention of mine. As fresh as Kenzo perfume, the punch delivered citrus delight, quenching my sore throat. Clearly, the opening beverage was not going to give me a chance to object.

Trilogy of Veal Tenderloin. A threesome of red meat. (surely at least one of them could be criticised.) The first one was with asparagus – a healthy duet. The second one with Porcini mushroom. Still couldn’t complain. The third one was with crusts of black olive – a very nice idea handled delicately to perfection. Mission of Complaining: failed.

Next was a portion of risotto in Parmigiano Reggiano cream; the Italian rice was so enriched with the cream. Along with the mushroom and asparagus, the dish was made tasty with a fresh veggie touch. The fine delicacy filled my mouth, and shut it up tightly before I could nitpick a single thing.

By the time the tiramisu arrived, I could only swallow the fact that I was no smarty pants, but a mere under-dressed glutton. Experiencing one of the finest Italian cuisines in town has been yet another chapter in my up-coming “Confessions of a Fashion-Wannabe” book. As for those who were thinking to have a just another evening in just another bistro wearing just another shirt … you have been warned!

Rosso at Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta
Kota BNI, Jl. Jend. Sudirman No. 1
Jakarta 10220
Tel: +6221-570-7440
Email: slj@shangri-la.com

2011 review: The Lady in Red at Rosso