The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Choose the weekend, invite a partner -- or two -- set the mood, and pick a venue.
Lippo Karawaci's Benton junction, on the corner of the main boulevard, is a nice alternative for those bored with the usual indoor dining experience.
What used to be ""just part of a parking lot"" is now the place for Karawaci's nightlife. On less than half a hectare of land, some 20 cafes, located on what are meant to be New England-styled commercial lots, bring life to the area.
A variety of cuisine, ranging from traditional Indonesian dishes to exotic Brazilian treats, as well as coffee shops, can be found here.
And perhaps an extra romantic nuance.
""My boyfriend and I came here on our first date,"" said Dita Eka Apriyanti, a 25-year-old interior designer who lives in the area. ""I guess the setting helped create the mood for us.""
Many other couples, and crowds, seemed to agree with Dita as the eatery hosts more than 200 visitors on the weekend and at least 50 people on weekdays.
Offering outdoor dining, 50 percent of the area consists of paved terraces shaded by tall royal poincianas (Flamboyan) decked with strands of lamps, under which visitors can enjoy their dinner.
""The idea of the place is to offer a different experience,"" said Lippo Karawaci urban planner Gordon G. Benton, after whom the corner is named. ""It is difficult to eat outdoors nowadays, with all the pollution, we want to provide the opportunity here.""
At lunch time, the restaurants are filled with professionals who work in nearby offices.
Benton junction seems to be the only alternative to the food court in the adjacent Lippo Supermal, with not many street vendors in sight.
For those living and working in Karawaci, the place is an easily reached option. (003)