Kalaha @ The Wharf – Ancol

Everyone has their own Valentine’s Day traditions. It could be having a fancy dinner with some friends or celebrating it with a significant other or mourning one’s pathetic, single life while eating a tub of ice cream. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that I actually have a Valentine’s Day tradition: eating pasta or noodles – with my parents and sister since I’ve never had a significant other. This year’s Valentine’s Day was no exception. The only difference is that I had pasta by the sea this year. [Yay for an upgrade!]

This year, my Valentine tradition was carried out at Kalaha @ The Wharf, Ancol Beach City Mall. I’ve honestly never had any recommendations nor heard any reviews of the place before visiting it so this review is purely based on my first impression.

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This eatery stood out the most from the row of bars, restaurants, and cafes lining the outdoor area of Ancol Beach City Mall thanks to it’s pirate ship theme. Unique interior is always a plus for me when I arrive at a place to eat.

There are two dining areas here: indoor and outdoor. I personally recommend the outdoor seating area because it had a cozier and romantic vibe with sofas and wooden picnic tables whereas the indoor area seemed a bit cramped. I mean, look at that second floor. Another plus point of picking the outdoor seating area is that there’s a seaside stage where a band would play some music starting at 7 PM nearby, so you can listen to them properly. As it was Valentine’s Day, they were playing some MLTR, Air Supply kind of romantic songs.

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I had quite some expectation for this restaurant/bar since it has a really unique concept and restaurants with unique concepts usually turn out to be really good ones.

However, I was immediately let down by the service upon our arrival. We walked right in front of a couple of waitresses’ noses and they didn’t even glance at us nor have the decency to offer us some menu. We had to sit for a couple of minutes and ask for a menu.

I was a bit ticked off at this, but the waitresses’ friendliness during the time they took orders quite made it up for that time being.

There was a Valentine’s Day package being offered that day consisting of a three-course meal, wine, a stuffed animal and a red rose for IDR500.ooo. Naturally, my parents picked that. Here’s a sneak peek of the food they had.

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I didn’t taste most of the food, but according to my mom’s word (and mind you, she really understands food), most of them didn’t have the right seasoning at all. The soup appetizer tasted too much like milk, the steak had too little sauce and was undercooked, and the dessert too sweet – I actually tasted it and it really tasted like I was biting a sugar cube.

As for me, here’s what I had for dinner.

Fettuccine Chicken Alfredo (IDR50.000)

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The plating was simple and it could do a lot better – I’ve had cheaper pasta with better plating than this. But it looked really nice and the chicken cutlets looked tasty.

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Apparently, this dish’s looks deceived me. Upon first taste, my first impression was that it had quite a lot of cream going on. It lacked quite some seasoning and the cream definitely overpowered all the other flavors. However, the pasta was al dente and it kind of saved the dish. The chicken cutlets were fantastic and definitely was the hero of the dish. I was a bit surprised to find a penne appearing randomly among the fettuccine. The portion may look small here, but it was definitely a mouthful to eat.

As for the garlic bread on the side, it was one of the worst garlic breads I’ve ever tasted. The texture was too tough and it had no seasoning. The dish would have been better off without it, to be honest.

Chicken Quesadilla (IDR50.000)

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The presentation of the dish was definitely creative. Using the tomato as a sauce container was a genius idea for me.

As for the taste, it was definitely a lot more pleasant dish than the fettuccine. The quesadilla was basically some meat with Bolognaise sauce stuffed between two thin tortilla breads. The Bolognaise sauce was incredible, alright. The seasoning was (finally) just right. However, the tortilla didn’t really come together with the meat inside.

I kid you not, the dish may seem small, but it was quite overwhelming after a few slices.

Strawberry Iced Tea (IDR30.000)

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Alright, first things first. I was a bit let down by the drinks section of their menu. Literally, three quarters of it were alcoholic drinks. They had no juices and the water was so freakin’ expensive – nearing the price of the iced tea and coffee. Thus, I opted for some strawberry iced tea. This drink was quite nice. It didn’t have too much sugar in it. However, the tea was way overpowering and thus, it didn’t taste quite like strawberry tea.

My review of this place based on the dish and interiors alone would be somewhere a bit above average. But then again, there’s still a huge factor that determines an eatery’s quality: its service. In Kalaha @ The Wharf’s case, service became their weakness.

I don’t doubt that the amount of customers on Valentine’s Day is an overwhelming thing to handle, but I don’t buy that to be enough reason to decrease the quality of service in a restaurant. Sadly, that seemed to be a bit of a problem at Kalaha @ The Wharf that night.

First off, a waitress left a tray and menu on the seat next to mine while trying to fetch the menu for another customer. That was rude for me as a customer because I was still sitting at that table, still eating and the waitress felt like it was okay to drop off a tray next to me. Next, they misplaced the order of the dishes – my appetizer came out after the main course. They also left us without any cutlery after serving the food.

But the big fiasco for me was all the things that happened between finishing our main course to waiting for the dessert. We asked for the dessert right after they took the empty plates from our main course and they said it would be ready soon. So we waited and waited, but the dessert as well as the spoon and fork still wasn’t there. So we asked a different waitress about our dessert and she asked us our ice cream preference. A few minutes later, another waitress arrived with waffles topped with strawberry ice cream and apologized because she assumed that our preference would be strawberry. We then had to watch the ice cream melt on top of the waffles since the cutlery hasn’t arrived yet. When a waiter finally gave us the cutlery it was a) not meant for dessert (he gave us a steak knife and a fork) and b) not dried. The worst part is that the dessert wasn’t even worth the wait.

There’s a huge communication problem here between the servers and there’s definitely a lack of staff. There was a point when there were absolutely no waiters around the outdoor seating area and we all just waited for our dishes like sitting ducks. I also caught one of the higher ranking waitresses berating another waitress for a mistake she made. That was unprofessional because it wasted the time that they could have used to fix that mistake and it created the impression that the friendliness they had for the customers was fake.

So, this year’s Valentine dinner was a definite letdown for me. I thought Kalaha @ The Wharf could do so much better. They had an excellent concept, but they needed to execute it better – be it in the food or in their service.

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