Crouching Tiger, Hidden Treasures at Caspar

Photography By Bagus Tri Laksono and Caspar

Nestled within Sudirman Suites is the city’s freshest and must-visit culinary destination. This high-toned eatery, Caspar is a feast for both the soul and the palate where Bill Bensley’s wild, eccentric designs and delicious tapas come together to create a unique experience.

Topsy turvy cabinet and shelves on the ceiling is a nod to the “hidden treasures” theme

There aren’t many F&B establishments like Caspar in the city. As you walk into this stylish eatery, you will spontaneously feel as you are in an exotic place far away from the hustle and bustle. Guests come for the scrumptious Spanish nosh during the day. Then, when the sun is down, the place takes you to shake the day and unwind with a cocktail or two accompanied by resident DJs playing their sets in the background.

At the helm of the eatery is executive chef Rafael Martinez Millan from Valencia, Spain. The Michelin star chef has many years of culinary experience under his belt, including his leading role at five-star hotels in some cities in Spain and England. At Caspar, chef Rafael and his team serve various items on the menu to spoil your palate - from Spanish cured meats and cheese to the seemingly ever-pleasing yet straightforward paella. The signature cocktails menu is a definite must-try; from a fusion of the local Es Teller and the classic Negroni to the house-invented Say Cheese, your taste buds are in for a treat. Indeed, the food here has certainly made its mark in the gastronomy scene.

What also sets Caspar apart from the others is its entire vision. Caspar’s meticulous design is a collaborative effort between Bill Bensley and Putu Mahendra. The design is a compromise to accommodate the different functions of the establishment and innovative future space. The materials and décor are thoughtfully chosen to grow gracefully over time. Whilst the execution was complex, the result is a fascinating one, presenting an exotic escape.

Front row view of the culinary action at the chef’s table

This two-storey establishment boasts more than six square metres of space, divided into six areas. From the entrance, you will chance upon a large alfresco area and through the entrance, on the ground floor is the primary lounge and bar. To the right is the main dining room whilst a large open kitchen with a chef’s table is on the left.

The mezzanine is divided into two areas; the whiskey and cigar lounge above the kitchen and the wine lounge above the main dining area – accessible by separate spiral stairs on the ground floor.

Each area features its subliminal style, all the while looking cohesive with the overall design. For example, the custom-designed leather seating in each room sports different colours - navy blue in the dining, pear green in the main lounge and mustard and red in the whiskey lounge, whilst the wine lounge is decked out with stripes and blue and yellow.

As you enter this establishment, you will be immediately drawn to its ceiling; a unique composition of upside-down cabinets and drawers—a manifestation of Bensley’s ‘hidden treasures’ narrative for Caspar. The designer’s touch is ubiquitous and intricate. Just like the ceiling, the walls are covered with cabinets, shelves, and drawers. It’s such a unique design work that is only possible for an expansive space such as this.

Al fresco dining with a tropical island vibe

Caspar’s ethnic-chic interior is a nod to the rich Indonesian heritage. Most of the interior materials are locally sourced, whilst most carpentries are made from reclaim wood further to illustrate the designer’s passion for sustainable design. However, the custom leather seating is a reminder of the classic Spanish La Bodega, outfitted with an updated, eclectic vibe. The establishment’s generously distanced seating arrangement and high ceilings are commodities and luxury in this pandemic era.

If you pay close attention, you would see that the pillars anchoring the space and some walls are embellished with some 200 thousand umbrella nails. It’s another notion of Bensley’s creative audacity. Even to the air-conditioning vents, every detail is well thought of, carefully concealed with an intricate carving of the sort.

Caspar provides a unique journey for patrons, all the way to the restroom. Decked with copper fittings, each restroom stall is fitted with a washbasin, an appealing design element in this time of the pandemic. More restrooms would be ideal for such a massive space as the dine-in and nightlife crowd is growing, although a challenging feat to take on at this point because of the structure and design.

The façade features floor-to-ceiling windows, catching the natural light during the day whilst providing a connection between the interior and exterior. A beautiful landscape around the alfresco area encloses the area from the main road it faces, while the outdoor daybeds provide a relaxing ambience that reminds us of Bali. A mirage of this exotic island is perpetuated by a vintage Dodge Commercial parked outside – worthy of the gram.

Whether you are looking to explore the delicious Spanish menu or to unwind and dance the night away, Caspar is a hidden treasure that has arrived at just the right time to meet the demands of those in Jakarta yearning for an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

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Shaza Dzulkifly
A Malaysian who now calls Indonesia her home. Shaza's career has taken her across multiple communications channels such as radio, TV, print, digital and social as well as PR and advertising.
Bagus Tri Laksono