I had not been to the Batavia Cafe for a number of years, the last time I was there was also for a Christmas Lunch. The Batavia Cafe is located in the old part of Jakarta at Taman Fatahillah. The old part of Jakarta, formerly known as Batavia, is worth a visit at any time. Aside from the obvious attraction of the Sunda Kelapa port there are also myriad of other attractions such as museums, China Town (in and around Glodok), and restaurants.
Back to the point of this entry. The Batavia Cafe is renowned as a late night hangout and is open 24 hours on weekends. The bars are great with a wide-range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available for order. The food is always excellent.
The Batavia Cafe is famous for a few things such as the 6-person serving of ice-cream, but it is some other features that draw many more vivid memories for visitors. The Cafe is full of old pictures collected over many many years. Yet, the most intriguing feature for male visitors is the bathroom. The urinal is fronted with a full wall mirror. So, whatever it is that you take out of your strides is their for all to see. Well, at least the fellas standing on either side of you. This has contributed to the rumors and gossip of the Batavia Cafe being a gay venue. And the fact that they have "gay nights" probably also adds to the rumour mill. However, the Batavia Cafe is far from being a gay venue!
Let's face it there is no sign on the door stipulating you must be gay or lesbian to get in, and you are not asked what your orientation is before being allowed to get in. A true gay & lesbian club or venue would at least pose the question to you. I know this because two years ago in Washington D.C. some of my friends and I, walking home after a night on the town, passed a place and thought we would grab one more cold ale for the road, only to have our way blocked by this really muscular young woman, who in no uncertain terms informed us that it was a lesbian club and we did not qualify! She was right, but we got in anyway, because men were allowed if the manager/owner agreed. This only happened after pleading my case in my best Australian accent about being a travel writer and I would be sure to give the club a good write up.
The Batavia Cafe is a venue for all no matter what your orientation. So, enjoy the good food and beverages on offer.
Your best bet for the old part of the city is to make it a day trip. The fun is walking around looking at all there is to see. The Government of Jakarta has committed itself to renovating the old part of town, some might say it is about bloody time, which is a good move considering the rich history that it contains and the integral role it has played in the development of Indonesia.
Once you're done walking and are in need of a cool ale or some other refreshment, then duck into the Batavia Cafe. If you are a little peckish or really hungry then grab a feed. The menu contains plenty of options including classic Indonesia favourites such as Ox Tail soup. For those a little less inclined to sample the local delicacies then there is plenty of other Asian and Western choices on the menu.
May be I should send them this Blog entry and try and score a free feed!