Levant Boulangerie

1st August 2023
From a little French joint to a busy hub for curious local and international customers, Levant Boulangerie continues to become a neighbourhood cornerstone of Cipete Dalam Street.

Mornings at Levant Boulangerie aren’t so slow anymore—and it hasn’t been for a while. First founded in 2014, over the years, the bakery and pastry shop has grown from a best-kept secret for the surrounding French communities on that stretch of Cipete Dalam Street to becoming a central hub for curious locals and international customers looking for fresh, homemade French pastry; a development properly encapsulated in its new home on the same street.

Set right next to its predecessor behind a white brick entryway, the recently opened space manifests itself like an idyllic European restaurant met with Jakarta’s unmistakable bustle. Inside it’s a bistro-style setting with a dedicated bakery and pastry area, whilst the outdoor is bathed in sunlight, eased up by canopies of greenery that provide shade for diners.

The recognisable figurehead, chef and founder Ramon Medina, can often be seen behind the glass that separates the main dining room from the kitchen, deftly preparing one menu to the next alongside his crew. “We’re focusing more on the restaurant now,” said the Lyonnais of Levant’s new direction. “To stick only with the boulangerie and patisserie (bakery and pastry shop) concept is tough to do in Jakarta. It’s not like in France, where bakeries are as easy to find as nasi goreng carts here.”

Many celebrate the change, drawing a majority of first-time customers into Levant’s doors as Jakartans search for a glimpse into Paris—at least, as they envision it. “People say it’s like in Paris, but they don’t have restaurants like this there. Maybe some, but definitely not the majority,” laughed Ramon.

Alterations are indeed catered to the metropole’s flow, but at its core, Levant has always been Ramon’s way to reconnect and introduce his culture to the city, and it remains so. Embracing the new restaurant identity only allows him to further shed light on other aspects of French cuisine in a more significant way, even if the menu is still relatively unchanged.

Carried over from Levant’s former home alongside its lineup of viennoiseries and cakes are classic dishes that provide a taste of French life. There’s Steak Frites, a simple yet ubiquitous dish of Australian tenderloin, french fries, mushroom sauce and salad that—according to Ramon—can be found at almost every restaurant in the country. Alternatively, the triple-decker brioche of Croque Madame is a go-to choice after a day of activities, packed with Emmental cheese, mustard, tomato and bechamel and topped with the identifiable fried egg “hat”. And there are new dishes too, like the Baked Brie sharing platter, which boasts a compilation of oven-baked brie with honey, grapes, walnuts and thyme.

As always when it comes to change, a few grumbles are to be expected and unavoidable. Some longtime regulars miss the long wooden tables and the communal spirit they bring among fellow guests, others think the new place doesn’t carry the same artisanal charm as the old one. It’s understandable, for Levant was a secret many liked to keep close to their chest because of how much they treasure the neighbourhood joint—but it was bursting to be told.

More now can join in to enjoy what the restaurant, bakery and patisserie has to offer alongside the joint’s oldtimers. Levant’s old charm is still there if one is to look past the hype and to the individuals who give life to the place. A table of the city’s creatives catch up over brunch and talk about their recent exploits. A lady, recently home from Australia, stopped Ramon on his way to the kitchen to tell him how much she loves spending her time there. Ramon himself remains present around the restaurant, helping with operations and finding time to learn how to make homemade gelato. 

“Of course, things are different now, but we’re still progressing and we’re still growing. And as we develop, we need to choose a path that ensures Levant can keep moving forward and stay alive,” stated Ramon.