Many of the 5 star hotels in Jakarta put on sumptuous “all you can eat” buffets.
Although prices have risen considerably in recent years, mostly they are still pretty good value, ranging in price from around Rp200,000 ++ to Rp400,000 ++.
Complimentary water/tea is often provided but you have to pay for other drinks. As you can eat as much as you want, it’s obviously best to be ravenously hungry when you turn up. I generally go for a long run or spend a couple of hours in the gym to get a really hearty appetite!
Cafe Gran Via is located in the Jakarta Melia Hotel, and as they were doing a promotion I thought I’d check it out. How does it compare with the competition? Especially the legendary SATOO in the Shangri-La, possibly the best buffet in Jakarta against which the competition will be judged.
Located on the first floor of the Melia Hotel, Cafe Gran Via has an “open plan” design. This makes the restaurant feel very spacious and you can see what’s going on in the hotel around you, including down at the reception area below.
And like most of these hotel restaurants, Cafe Gran Via is pretty large – it has seating for up to 300 people.
When we turned up, we realized why there was a promotion.
Hotel Melia was still being renovated!
This meant there were not many guests and the Cafe Gran Via was very quiet. Empty in fact.
This was the reason I think why the restaurant’s vibe was not nearly as good as it should have been. The place was dead. Poor lighting also dulled the experience – literally - and the staff were over eager to help. Cafe Gran Via also lacked the modern and sophisticated design of the top buffet restaurants like SATOO, a weakness which reduces the diner’s all too crucial “expectations” and leads to a less satisfying dining experience (*).
When there are so few people eating in a large restaurant (I counted only about 15 after one hour), you start to have doubts over the freshness and quality of the food. Whether those doubts are justified are not is beside the point – just having them in the first place will affect your perceptions of the quality of the food.
Overall, there was a good selection of food available – perhaps too much to be honest. It included sushi, Indian, dim sum, salads, roast beef etc.
All in all, dining at Cafe Gran Via was a disappointing experience.
But that’s what you get in an empty hotel!
Cafe Gran Via
Gran Meliá Jakarta
Jalan H.R. Rasuna Said Kav X-0
Kuningan Jakarta Indonesia 12950
Tel: (62) 21 5268080
Lunch 11.30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m, Dinner 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
(*) In one of the most famous experiments on consumer expectations ever conducted, researchers filled some Penn & Teller bottles (which sell at US$7 each!) with plain old tap water. The bottles were then passed out to unsuspecting guests at a classy southern California restaurant.
The patrons had no idea that all of the fancy bottles of water were filled with the same water from a water hose in the back of the restaurant.
But whether it was the original Penn & Teller water in the bottle or just plain old Agua de Culo (Spanish for ass water) didn’t matter.
The patrons couldn’t tell the difference. IT WAS ONLY THE EXPECTATIONS THAT MATTERED. Someone should tell Hotel Gran Meliá about this!