Update: The Siete Café has been closed at the end of 2017.

Siete Cafe, Bandung
  • 7/10
    Taste - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Menu - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Location & Atmosphere - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Service & Facilities - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Price - 8/10


The fallback when nothing else suffices.

Over time, some friends and I have developed specifications or requirements for a venue for a meet-up or get together. Unless we want a specific dish such as Japanese ramen or sushi, or thai tom yam and seafood, we settle for casual dining experience. It needs to be free of smoke, public transport friendly, child friendly, and pocket-friendly, of course!

Trying out different food and places is also on the list. With new cafés and restaurants popping up everywhere in the city, the temptations are endless. You would think it should be easy to decide a venue to hang out or meet. Apparently not in our case. I suppose it’s a case of too many choices leading to inefficient decision-making process that leads to fatigue.

The decision-making process is pretty simple and straight-forward. We would pool our opinions, comments, and then vote. However, these days, the process would include a clause, “not Siete again, please!” because we have gone there too many times. But the funny thing is, whenever we are unable to agree on a venue, someone would throw the line, “Siete again, nih?” Although this process often takes place on chatting app, you can almost hear the moaning, groaning and tutting that follow until finally we reluctantly agree. “So be it. Siete it is.”

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles

Like many casual dining outlets currently running rampant in my city, Siete serves eclectic selection of Western and Indonesian cuisine, of which tastes cater to local palates. You will find pasta dish, though limited in options, that is passable. It offers grilled meat and steak (beef, chicken, fish) served with potato, fried or mashed, in fancy names like Chicken Duxelle and Beef New Yorker . A number of famous signature Indonesian dishes, most are served with steamed rice, are also available such as Taliwang Chicken or Balinese Fried Rice.

Menus are printed in usual organization: entrée/appetizers, main course, desserts, and beverages. The serving, though, depends on your point of view. I remember from its early days, the waiters were attentive enough to serve them in correct sequence, appetizers before main meal and ending with dessert. Or sometimes they asked whether I’d like them served as such. But the practice might have contributed to the very long waiting time that might have upset customers. So they don’t ask any more. Nowadays, it’s normal to have your glass of drink already empty before the main course arrives or have Banana Split or Tropical Breeze — I might have got the names wrong… — served right up front. Sequential correctness be damned! As long as the customers don’t feel that they wait too long.

Most of the dishes are visually appealing with a lot of attention to details, very much what you have seen on the menu. They are inviting to be devoured as well as to be captured in pictures and shared on social media. The servewares and cutlery sets are interesting enough to emulate fine dining experience without evoking the troublesome table manner.

I have not tried all but from some that I have, I liked the pancakes, chocolate or green tea. They are average but still better than some I have had during pancake fever — it got me running around the city, trying out pancakes offering — that struck me last year. I also like Fish and Chips although I drop the chips for mashed potato. Iga Siete, ribs soaked in red hot spices and served with rice and onion rings, proves to be rather unreliable in taste and textures, sometimes good and tender, at other times bland and tough, and somewhere in between most of the time. It depends on the weather, perhaps? The steady and reliable one is Momma’s Soup, simple clear soup that warms you up during cloudy days.

The range of beverages offered are decent. Believe it or not, I find their coffee selection much better than the certain nearby fast-food cafe. The cappuccino leans towards stronger espresso. I’ve ordered more hot cappuccino — and used to be able to order one with double shots of espresso — than other drinks, except iced tea. Other drinks include a number of Mojito drinks, flavoured and milked teas, chocolate, and intricate blends such as Nutella Blast, Chocolate Oreo, or Royal Strawberry Cheesecake.

The most memorable impressions from the menu have been the “right” size of serving portion — neither too much nor too little — with enough taste to them — neither too savoury nor bland, definitely. Even though at first sight, the Aglio Olio seemed too little on the plate, by the end of the meal I felt full just enough. I felt that it offered relatively best value for money compared to similar outlets in the area. I did not feel ripped off or short-changed. “Lumayan,” I’d say in local language.

Lately, those impressions have been challenged. I notice that the portion is getting smaller (especially observed in the fish of Fish and Chips). The unique glass for iced (lemon) tea, which looked larger and of which capacity you cannot easily tell, has changed to common looking ones that contain less. They no longer serve liquid sugar separately for cold drinks, a practice I wished they have kept because then I could control the sweetness. Prices are climbing as well although so far they are still well under 100K rupiahs per serving, the most expensive are about 65K-ish each, excluding 15% tax.

These mixed experiences on menus are offset by its main strength yet: location.

“Location, location, location!” real estate agents

From location alone, you’ll understand why Siete comes up on top of the list whenever my friends and I look for a venue to hang out or get together. The café strategically sits near a very busy junction and famous road, a good number of schools and campuses, hotels and boarding housing area at Jl. Sumur Bandung no. 20 Bandung (note: at the time of writing, Google Maps has got the street name wrong. It’s supposed to be sumur bandung not tongkeng). It is right on the side of a street with hassle-free and straight to the point parking mechanism — not in a building or mall where you need to park at point A then walk to point B.

The location enables it to conveniently attract specific demographic: students and urban young adults, which manifests in decor — vintage feel and homy in light and cheerful colours — facilities, relatively friendly pricing and marketing strategies and campaigns. (Background) music selection leans towards easy-listening and reflects up-to-date and up-and-coming local and international musicians. The atmosphere is set to entice these students and young urbanites to stay inside.

Occupying old colonial-era european-styled house, Siete uses the room layout to divide seating zones, each is dominated by wood furnitures, with flexibilities to accomodate larger gatherings. There is “genuine” non-smoking area that is both no-smoking and smoke-free, which is a must in our list of requirements. The huge windows, airy and spacious rooms keep the space well lit and the air cool without air conditioner although it gets warmer when the room was overly crowded. A open area, the garden, holds space for live music and outdoor tables. There is a designated meeting room, and a musholla (prayer room) which is in dire need of heavy vacuuming.

All that, coupled with free WiFi/internet connection and eletric power outlets almost at every table, will surely invite students to camp there. So they do! Young people, sitting in front of laptops for hours or having discussions in meetings, are the norm here. And this invites contradicting experiences and non-experiences.

Once, I tried to squeeze a lunch date with a friend who is a lecturer at a campus nearby. She strongly opposed going to Siete for fear that she would bump into one of her students and be seen as anything other than the stern image she has been projecting elsewhere. Thus, Siete was out of the candidate list. We decided to go somewhere away from these students.

On another side, I find eating alone there an exciting experience. I don’t need to look busy (pretending) reading a book, playing a game on gadgets, or working on a laptop. You know young people: the self-centered, it’s-all-about-me attitude. They don’t bother about their surrounding that they talk so loud and expressively, they don’t seem to mind or care (or realise, more likely) that I listen in loudly. Last month, I had had a hard time containing laughter while listening to a group advising one of its member on how to be tough on a new student while still displaying affection. The “galak-galak mesra” approach. Hahahahaha.

With all its strengths and weaknesses, Siete seems to have found a firm place among its competitors. It may not be for everyone, but for its target demographic it is a very good bargain.