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Nestled in the heart of South Jakarta’s Kebayoran Baru, Birdcage has in recent months emerged from a renovation that may help its popularity soar. The laid-back venue has long catered to lunchers, though it is perhaps better as a place to find night owls seeking a late-night drink. Now it has added another reason to drop in by transforming its ground floor into a casual coffee shop.
Birdcage is split into three levels, each with a different vibe fostered by its decor. The newly redesigned ground floor uses gingham tablecloths and white shelves lined with ceramic cookie jars to create a warm and homey atmosphere.
“With the new coffee shop, we wanted to create a more casual feel so people can get breakfast and lunch here,” said Dodi Saputra, the venue’s manager.
Move upstairs, and the atmosphere is transformed. Up a flight of wooden stairs, the first floor opens up to a large space decorated with flowing white drapery, plush orange sofas and a long bar. Calming acoustic music flows through the speakers, and the candlelit space creates an intimate, cabin feel.
The decor here had an earlier makeover to enclose part of an open-air terrace with heavy glass windows to reduce street noise and createa light but cosy observatory feel.
Up another flight of stairs, the top floor is the cherry atop the architectural cake. The small attic has an even more comforting feel, again with plush sofas and a sloped ceiling, adorned with hanging wooden birdcages. The space is only open on weekends.
“This floor is often used for private parties. Many of our customers will rent the entire top floor for themselves,” Saputra said.
Birdcage is modeled on the gastropubs of Europe and North America, meaning the focus is as much on the bar as the kitchen. It offers a menu of classic Italian comfort food coupled with an extensive list of inventive drinks that patrons can enjoy accompanied by live acoustic music on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights.
In addition to offering sophisticated versions of Italian classics such as pizza, pasta and panini, as well as European pub staples such as fish and chips, patrons can also dine on nasi goreng kampung or wagyu beef.
“The menu is predominantly Italian. But due to requests for more variety, we added more Asian meals,” Saputra said.
The crowning gem of Birdcage is its impressive drinks menu, which includes classic cocktails — margaritas and mojitos among them — and non-alcoholic drinks through to more creative concoctions. Customers can whet their whistles on distinctive creations such as the Toblerone, a creamy cocktail made of vodka, Kahlua and chocolate syrup, or the Kiwi Cooling Motion, made of kiwi fruit blended with mascarpone, vanilla, vodka and mint.
Although Birdcage initially attracted a predominantly expat crowd when it opened, Saputra says more locals are joining its clientele. “Most of our clients are young and come from an upper middle-class background,” he said.
Like most restaurants, Birdcage is busiest on the weekend. On Friday and Saturday nights, the two top levels of Birdcage buzz with conversation over dinner and cocktails. Saputra says it gets crowded later in the evening, with new batches of customers arriving close to midnight to enjoy a few drinks.
Asked how the name Birdcage came about, Saputra smiles.
“When one of the owners said she wanted to rent the place, a few locals in the area said, ‘Oh, the place that looks like a birdcage?’” he said.
Saputra added that the nickname likely stemmed from the restaurant’s location, surrounded by dense trees. The name stuck for the owner, who decided to build the restaurant around the birdcage theme — wooden interior, homely feel and plenty of hanging cages.
With its comfortable wooden interior and secluded location deep inside Kebayoran Baru, Birdcage offers a rare getaway from the city’s commotion.
Its renovation has only increased the appeal of the restaurant, making it an afternoon destination as well as a late-night hotspot.