Scusa Restaurant

Scusa Restaurant


The surefire flavors at the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza’s Scusa restaurant give fine dining lovers no excuses not to eat (and eat again) at this Jakartan Italian institution.

Having had the privilege to write about restaurants in Jakarta for a few years, I’ve had both the professional duty and personal passion to try out every buzzworthy new eatery that opens its doors in the Big Durian. But sometimes you don’t want to take a risk on something new and trendy – you want a sure thing. Scusa, the award winning Italian restaurant in the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza, is definitely one of the restaurants that fall into that category for me. Over many memorable meals there, it has always served up consistently top-notch dishes in a setting that always impresses.

The interior design of Scusa is centered around the floor-to-ceiling use of sleek, polished wood, in various hues, accented by contemporary art and glass elements that sparkles thanks to the dramatic use of lighting.
It is a setting that is opulent without being overwhelming, as the restaurant’s layout and sections, including three private mezzanine dining rooms, manage to make it feel intimate even when busy.

The hotel’s Executive Chef, Gary Palm (see profile on pg 82), has done a great job in maintaining Scusa’s high level of quality and consistency over the years, a job which is made easier by the hard work of Sous Chef Wawan Barito Setiawan, who heads up the restaurant’s kitchen. They set the right tone right off the bat with a complimentary serving of walnut and feta bread. Baked daily, this baked good resembles a large savoury scone, with a crusty exterior giving way to a chewy interior studded with large chunks of crunchy walnut and salty feta. It’s the sort of thing you might expect to pay a premium price for at a top-flight bakery but here it’s just the start of the meal.

Chef Gary and Chef Wawan’s menu is filled with contemporary Italian dishes, but the emphasis is definitely on highlighting the natural taste of the ingredients. A starter of pan seared king scallops sees three of the meaty bivalves cooked just long enough to form a satisfying crust. They are served with braised leaks, which contrast nicely with the gentle brininess of the scallops, as well as sun dried tomatoes and basil which provide the necessary amount of piquant acidity.  Another simple but satisfying starter is the Italian cold cut platter, which highlights the already delicious slices of parma and coppa ham, salami and bresaola by pairing them with semi dried tomato bruschetta and Parmesan cheese.




Too many Italian restaurants in Jakarta rely upon heavy, cream-laden sauces to make up for a lack of finesse in their cooking. Not so at Scusa. Take, for example, the potato and wild mushroom soup. Mushroom soup is a mainstay on most western menus in Jakarta, though they tend to be the “cream of” variety. Here, the soup is thickened mostly by the starch of the potatoes, creating a thin but nicely textured liquid platform for the earthiness of the wild mushrooms medley, which includes a satisfying touch of truffle.

Even the heavier main courses here are treated with a healthy respect for each and every ingredient. The veal saltimbocca features a cut of veal that remains moist and tender even as its topping of parma ham with sage gets cooked to a beautifully crisp texture. The accompanying housemade green fettuccine with tomatoes and basil provides a refreshing counterpoint to the savoriness of the saltimbocca, as does the generous lemon half you are given to apply your own ideal of acidity to the dish. One of the most popular dishes at Scusa is the barramundi fillet, a choice that is both light and full of flavor. The fillet gets cooked until the skin achieves just the right level of crispiness and then it is plated alongside baby broccoli, potatoes, capers, parsley, which are all tied together with a delicate white wine emulsion.
There is certainly nothing restrained about the desserts here, though they do exhibit the same high level of polish and presentation as the rest of the dishes. If you like chocolate cake even in the slightest, you’ll want to order Scusa’s signature molten chocolate cake. a gentle indentation with your fork will reveal the cakes gooey, liquid interior featuring a balance of milk and dark chocolate that prevents it from being too sweet. The cake is paired with a rum raisin ice cream and vanilla sauce that work together to round out the flavors of this decadent dessert.  If you want something more traditional, there’s no going wrong with Scusa’s homemade tiramisu, which is simply a perfectly executed and presented version of the classic coffee-flavoured dessert.

In addition to their standard menu, Scusa is known for an excellent value for money lunch and a well regarded Sunday brunch. They often have special promotions highlighting cuisine from different regions of Italy as well as in season ingredients such as white asparagus. While excellent Italian options continue to pop up throughout Jakarta, Scusa is definitely one of the standard bearers of Italian fine dining in the capital, one you can always rely upon for a memorable meal.


A Truly InterContinental Chef
Talking with Gary Palm, Executive Chef of the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza

It takes much more than exemplary cooking skills to become the executive chef of a major hotel with multiple restaurants like the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza. It requires managerial, logistic and accounting acumen, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of different culinary styles. Those are the kinds of skills that Executive Chef Gary Palm brings to the kitchen.

Chef Gary joined the hotel in 2010, bringing with him over 25 years worth of experience from kitchens located around the globe. Early on in his career, he apprenticed at the Michelin starred Moulin de Mougin restaurant in France, under legendary chef Roger Verge. For a time, he also owned his very own restaurant, Le Bel Air, in Laval, France. He has applied his culinary prowess at top hotels in a wide variety of countries including the Ritz Carlton Seoul, the JW Marriot Bombay and, before coming to Jakarta, heading up the kitchens of the InterContinental Shanghai Puxi.

All of the skills that he learned along the way are put to good use at the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza, where he both enforces the high standards of and dreams up new menus for their F&B outlets, which include the superlative Scusa, the Bacchus Bar and their newest offering, Rasa, an all-day dining restaurant which offers an updated, highly interactive take on the usual hotel buffet.

Exquisite Taste: You’ve been very busy recently with the opening of Rasa, the InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza’s newest restaurant. Can you tell us a bit about the concept behind it?

Chef Gary Palm: The concept is market fresh which allows the Chef to create daily inpirational dishes and in an open kitchen so that you can experience the food with all your senses.

Exquisite Taste: Can you give us some idea of the amount of work goes into the planning and preparation of a new restaurant like Rasa?

Chef Gary Palm: Details, details and details. Everything from the design, kitchen equipment, model of equipment brand names to water source, gas pressure, government regulations, HACCP regulations, timeline of import items, menu, staff, training. Once you have done all, you will have the guest coming to the restaurant and it means the ROI (Return on investment) will be discussed also.

Exquisite Taste: So at what age did you first find you had a love of cooking? Do you remember the moment when you decided you wanted to be a professional chef?

Chef Gary Palm: At about 7 years old. It was something that just came accros my mind when I was at 28 years old, in the kitchen and I had a feeling in me that made the hair on my arms stand and I realised I really loved what I was doing and I would never change.

Exquisite Taste: You apprenticed under legendary French chef Roger Verge. What was the most important lesson he taught you?

Chef Gary Palm: Be quiet, work hard, respect for the art of cooking, desire to be the best. At that time I was with him, I only said 2 words to him – “Oui, Chef” and “Non Chef” (“Yes Chef” or “No Chef”).

Exquisite Taste: You’ve cooked and mastered cuisines from all over the world. Which would you say was the most challenging for you to get a handle on?

Chef Gary Palm: French, because of its techniques, specifications and expectations.

Exquisite Taste: They say a love of food is a form of nostalgia. What dish makes you nostalgic about your childhood?

Chef Gary Palm: Banana cream pie with Graham cracker crust when I was 7 years old!

Exquisite Taste: What are your favorite locally sourced Indonesian ingredients to work with?

Chef Gary Palm: Definitely the seafood and the exotic fruit, then use your own imagination to create.

Exquisite Taste: Who is the most memorable guest you have ever cooked for and what did you make for them?

Chef Gary Palm: I have done many VIPs and Heads of State – Presidents, but the most memorable was James Beard, House in New York. The guests wew made up fortune 500 executives & food and beverage professionals. The menu was from products from around the world.

Exquisite Taste: If the world was ending tomorrow, what would you like your last meal to be?

Chef Gary Palm: Tarte Tatin, Vanilla Bean Ice cream and Champagne!


Double Lamb Chops With White Bean and Mushroom Ragout




• 200 gram lamb chop
• 20 grams broad white beans
• 20 grams mushroom
• 20 grams onion
• 20 grams bell pepper
• 30 grams olive oil
• 15 grams herbs
• 50 grams rosemary jus
• 10 ml Dijon mustard


1. Marinate the lamb chops with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
2. Grill the lamb chops and finish in the combination oven.
3. For ragout, saute garlic and mushroom, beans and bell peppers. Add the rosemary jus and finish with butter.
4. Place the lamb in the centre of the plate and serve it with bean and mushroom ragout decorated with mustard.