When Musical Passion Meets Great F&B
SITTING comfortably on a spacious leather sofa surrounded by industrial-themed infrastructure that takes you back to the prohibition era, FoodieS had a good talk with Mr. Leon Gunawan, the proprietor of one of Jakarta’s hottest hangout venues, his eponymous León. We take this opportunity to delve into the inspiration for León and what makes the place tick.
Leon started his foray into the F&B business with a small joint in Kemang called The Trip, a small pub offering food, drinks and live music. After a while, another opportunity came to open up Parc19, a high-energy restaurant with music and lots of parties. “Then I realized that the trend for a venue that’s suitable for hangout offering more than drinks was there, and so I wanted to create a new platform to meet this growing trend. Hence, the idea of León came to be.”
Aiming to be a hybrid between a restaurant, a bar and a club, León was created to integrate the best aspects of venues mentioned above, but with an even higher standard. “León has great food, but it’s not just a restaurant. It offers a diverse selection of drinks, but it’s not just a bar. It has spectacular musical entertainment, but it’s not just a club. León is all of these and more.”
Creating something like León is no easy task. “My passion is good music. Everything else in León is situated to accommodate the music offering, from the visible center stage area to the high ceiling combined with second-to-none audio technology.”
Compared to Leon Gunawan’s other venues, León appeals to a more mature audience on account of its classy and rugged industrial vibe. The interiors of León could easily be that of a vibrant New York bistro laden with comfortably spacious leather couches in black and brown, brick-and-steel walls on one side, wall-to-ceiling windows on the other giving a vintage industrial feel, and a generous bar area lined with a marble counter top, leather stools, and a fully stocked list of wine and spirits.
In charge of the culinary team at León is Executive Chef Bobby Zean, an industry veteran who likes to fuse his personal unique touch to modern, international cuisines. One of the signature dishes not to be missed at León is the 300gr Ribeye Tajima, which plates perfectly cooked slices of premium beef, served with chili soy, baked cauliflower, spicy ketchup, and a fresh batch of rocket salad to balance out the meaty flavor.
The Seafood Fettuccine is also a fantastic comfort dish that puts together shrimp, squid, and mussels with fresh fettuccine and classic chili & tomato sauce. There’s also Harissa Chicken, a hearty dish of chili-marinated half chicken with minted yoghurt and roasted vegetables. These dishes are best enjoyed over a glass of wine or cold beer and while enjoying León’s famous live music performances.
After enjoying some of Chef Bobby Zean’s delicious comfort food for dinner, the music picks up and shifts the mood to a soulful nightlife bar. “I’m very hands-on when it comes to choosing our bands here. I know what I want in terms of our musical concept, and I personally hand-pick the musicians so I can get to know them and bring out the best of what we bring to León.”
At the time this article is published, León runs Paul Latumahina and Friends on Sundays and Soulmate on Tuesdays. “I love working with these two very closely down to the all the details like what to play, what not to play, or handling requests.” Furthermore, León patrons will be pleased to know that the musical aspect will be bolstered even more in the near future. “After Lebaran we are looking to boost the frequency of our live shows. We will be working with more talented artists, bring in more weekly shows, and improving our sound and lighting even more. That’s all I can say for now, but do stay in touch for more news.”
The interior sets the mood for every bar goer’s dream: super comfortable bar stools, cozy leather couches, ambient lighting that’s just low enough to make things interesting, and masterfully-crafted cocktails. Some of these include the Basil Benedictine and Classic Mojito.
“León has great food, but it’s not just a restaurant. It has spectacular musical entertainment, but it’s not just a club. León is all of these and more.”
Jalan Wijaya I, No.25
T: +62 21 7221188