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Mary's Star Deli: A Restaurant Review

Don't you sometimes dream and wish to have a slab of steaming hot Ricky Martin while gabbing with your gal mates and watching some romantic chick flicks on TV? Isn't it a 'must have' agenda on a girl's night out? Well, now you can have your dream come true at Star Deli - located at Jl. Kemang Selatan No. 5A. Tel. 781-8649. The huge and sloppy Ricky Martin burger is served with spicy guacamole, sour cream, fresh spring onions and salsa, plus a handful of fat, crispy French-fries. Then she bangs - she bangs!

The front section of Star Deli, which was only officially opened last month, doesn't look as appealing as the inner rooms. Aside from the waitresses with a little attitude, 'the Star girls', who look sweet wearing very short blue pants. The entrance has a juice bar in the corner, a set of colourful bar stools and narrow tables. The first impression it gives is of a clean, non-smoking, full of healthy fruit juices kind of restaurant (yawn!). But as soon as you enter the double door to the right , it feels like you've been transferred into the diner era in the movie industry. The dim rectangular room houses a dozen or so brown leather booths with black and white Hollywood star photos hanging low on the walls. A pool table, a private bar and a low seating area piled with black cushions dominate another room that adjoins the main room. It gives you the chills before you sense the smell of greasy bacon strips sizzling on the hot pan from their kitchen.

"We had the idea to open Star Deli while we were living in Los Angeles a couple of years back. There was a restaurant with a similar Hollywood theme there, which we often went to. But our primary reason is that there was no single restaurant in South Jakarta that provides breakfast on their menu. Well, there are some, but either they only open after ten or eleven o'clock in the morning or their menu selection is very limited. Here in Star Deli we serve real tasty - slightly greasy, like the way they like it - American breakfast and other all day dishes, with American style and service. We are open from seven o'clock in the morning until basically the last customer leaves the restaurant," explained Mary Gregory, the owner of Star Deli.

The youngest member of Kemang restaurant's collection emphasises their breakfast menu as their specialities. Beside the typical food other cafés and restaurants in Kemang have on their menu, like nachos, fajitas, fish and chips and spaghetti - which has become more like a religion in the area, Star Deli also serves a variety of special breakfasts, gourmet burgers and freshly made sandwiches. If you order 'Leonardo DiCaprio' for example, instead of a plate of the drop dead gorgeous actor, you'll get a combination of scrambled eggs, sliced ham, Swiss and American cheese on grilled focaccia bread and hash browns with apple sauce. Another egg dish, 'Cruise' features an avocado, bacon and cheese filled omelette; it's fluffy yet the avocado adds a tangy and refreshing element into it - which also balances the fatty taste of the bacon and cheese. Last but not least from the breakfast menu, is their filling buttermilk pancakes - authentic home-made grandma style pancakes.

From the deli counter, a Reuben Sandwich is the pick for people who like hot corned pastrami. It is served on toasted rye bread, topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. All sandwiches are accompanied with coleslaw and french fries.

Somewhat lacking on their menu list is vegetarian dishes. The only tempting dish for the greenie is the 'Hollywood Melt' sandwich, which comprise of grilled cheddar cheese, tomato and lettuce on focaccia bread. But for the beef and pork lovers, this is definitely the place for you!

"The theme we picked - Stars - underscores the whole set up of the restaurant, which are celebrities, local and western media atmosphere. This is a place for stars who like to hang out in a relaxing and funky ambience where the general public can also come to eat. The restaurant serves as a platform for local actors and actresses, models, directors, photographers, writers, and all kinds of people who are involved in the world of art. They can put their work on the wall, and show and demonstrate their abilities at no cost. We accommodate artists who'd like to be known; we want to contribute to the local art community. We believe in cross promotion. If they win, then we also win," added Mary enthusiastically.

"We are going to organise special events throughout the week, namely events that focus on sport groups, holiday events, women associations and other community-based associations. We would like to make this restaurant into a neighbourhood community gathering spot. It might sound strange here, but it's actually rather common back in the United States," said Elizabeth, the Star Deli's general manager, explaining how the adopted American concept works.

Star Deli's concept is a breakthrough. The restaurant overall is great aside from the limited parking space, rather slow service and the chef's itchy hands that tends to put too much white pepper on some dishes (which is very common among local cooks). It is a refreshing movement within the restaurant community in Kemang and the city in general.

First published in the Jakarta Post