Where The Heart Is: Kitchenette

Published as the Dining feature in PRESTIGE Indonesia, June 2010.

Kitchenette, the newest offering from Ismaya Group, aims to create that pleasant feeling of eating in the home of a good friend who also happens to be an excellent chef, writes Yudith Ho.

With celebrated ventures like Social House and Blowfish already under its belt, Ismaya Group has become synonymous with thriving restaurants and bars with unique concepts —not to mention an uncompromising quality of food.

Kitchenette, the company’s latest offering, is no different, with its tables packed full since the day the kitchen started operating and a lengthy waiting list during weekends and weekday lunches.

“Not that it means we stop getting the word out or stop listening to each little complaint,” says Chef Aldo Volpi, the man behind Social House and now Kitchenette. “We always listen to what our customers say so that we can improve, because they’re like friends that we invite to our home. The restaurant is our home and we want to make our customers feel like they are our good friends.”

He explains that in Italy, where he was born, guests are commonly entertained in the living room. Only the closest of friends would be invited to sit in the kitchen while the host makes them coffee or tea and cooks up some of his specialties. Kitchenette aims to recreate that pleasant, familiar and inviting feeling of eating in the home of a good friend —who also happens to be an excellent chef.

Its charming cardboard menu revolves around an extensive selection of Little Amelie’s crêpes and Madame Colette’s savoury galettes, all freshly made to order in front of the customer.

The wholesome Arnaud galette is topped with hearty mini beef hamburgers, fried egg, tangy Dijon mustard sauce, Swiss cheese and caramellised onions. It is made with organic buckwheat flour, like all of Kitchenette’s galettes. Another favourite is the Antoine-Ego, simple yet refined with ham, mozzarella cheese and mushroom caviar with truffle oil.

The Abigail crêpe is light and sweet, featuring Peach Melba topped with crusty caramellised almonds, intense Valrhona cocoa powder, vanilla ice cream and airy whipped cream.

While the crêpes and galettes are French in origin, the menu features dishes from many parts of Europe and elsewhere. Uncle Raul’s Spanish meatballs with creamy beef chorizo are generous in flavour and texture, the simple cream sauce a welcome contrast to the chunky and heavily spiced meatballs.

Uncomplicated and tasty like comfort foods ought to be, the nacho style crispy potato chips with chili beans promise to become your next bad habit. For those seeking a lighter option, Kitchenette has a salad bar that offers freshly prepared selections served with their secret recipe dressings.

Of course, there is always room for delectable desserts like the aromatic Red Velvet Cupcake, the dense Parisian molten chocolate cake and the light and creamy crumbled pistachio cake with a generous coating of crushed pistachio nuts.

Another highlight is the wide range of hot and cold drinks, including Kitchenette’s special blend coffees, TWG teas, Illy coffees and Grandma Stella’s fresh fruit elixirs, which are topped with soda and fresh-cut fruits of your choice.

As featured in the menu, many characters populate this kitchen, like Grandpa Luigi, Uncle Raul, Madame Colette and Little Amelie. “We want to create the complete experience, so we brought in the characters to breathe life and variety into the kitchen,” says Volpi.

In crafting that experience, the Ismaya team has gone to great lengths to ensure the quality and authenticity of its flavours. “We travelled all around Europe to learn from the best,” he says. “We tried crêperies in France, tapas places in Spain and more.”

Volpi also looked to his childhood in bringing the concept of Kitchenette to life. “Growing up in Italy during those years, it’s the mother who cooks and takes care of the house and the children while the father is away working,” he says. “And the mother is always in the kitchen, so that’s why it becomes the heart of the house. It’s where everything happens.”

Leave a Reply