Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and every day from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Street parking if you cruise long enough. Steps in front make access by wheelchair difficult. American Express, BankAmericard, Diners Club and Master Charge. Reservations unnecessary.
Were it not for a tip from a worldly coworker, we might never have dared to trot our kids into an indonesian restaurant. But after visiting a haven for tastebuds called the Circle, we're still hearing raves from our two junior explorers.
Bear in mind that the four of us fean with a zero-bases knowledge of Indonesian cuisine. Among other things, this helped to explain our willingness to accept the Bali's claim that it is Washingtons "first and only Indonesian restaurant."
If you know old Washington, the site we're talking about is Hartnett Hall at 21st and P, home over the decades for countless college students and contemporaries. The Bali began in the basement there about two years ago. For the last four months or so it's been upstairs with a pleasant touch of class - which in our book means your kids might want to spruce up just a bit for this one.
Before going any further, we should inject our guesstimate that children, to swing in comfortably here, might best be about 7 years old or more. It's not a matter of formality or cost - merely that this is no hamburger-and-high-chair spot.
In fact, you can credit the red tablecloths, candlelight ans linen napkins for a quieting effect on the children. Our waiter, in native attire, also was quick to put our kids at ease with his friendly manner. With soft drinks, a rum-and-bitter-lemon and a Japanese Kirin beer to begin, we studied the menu.
For novices, we're told that a good introduction to Indonesian fare is rijst-tafel - a feast of the house specialities, at $7.95 for one, $15.45 for two. It includes bean threads and chicken in soup, salad,egg roll, satey (Indonesian-style shish kebab) sweet and sour shrimp, beef with coconut cream and chicken done that way, too, shrimp chips, pickles, rice, chili sauce, dessert and tea or coffee.
But we decided to mix it up a different way. The children began with egg drip soup, at 75 cents, and my wife and I had delicious crispy fried wanton with a savory sauce, at $1.
Then came the good fortune of four main course choices, which we sort of shared. Each turned out to be better than the other. There was my wife's selection, tenderloin beef with bamboo shoots and broccoli in soy sauce, at $3.75. Our 8-year-old daughter chose chicken fried with soy sauce, at $3.95. For our 10-year-old son, it was lamb satay with peanut sauce, at $3.95, and for me, chicken satay with peanut sauce, at $3.75
This turned out be some of the finest cooking we've come across on these outings. Basically it was a matter of maximum flavor per square inch (or the metric equivalent, if you want). The soy sauce dishes were tangy, and of the two kinds of satay - six ministicks per platter - the lamb went best with what is not just a peanut butter in disguies, but a superb melange of peanuts, herbs and kitchen sabby.
We wound it up with ice cream for the kids and coffee for the parents. Our total bill for this fine feast was $26.14 plus tip.