Monday, July 7, 2008

Au Gout du Jour, Ichigaya

eek2, you know you’ve been hitting the restaurant scene a bit when you go to a new place and recognize the staff from elsewhere. I guess it’s OK if it’s a different restaurant in the same group, but it’s still disconcerting. Especially when you’ve made what feels like a big hike across town to go to Ichigaya (previously my Tokyo map just said ‘Here Be Draggons’ all around Ichigaya station).

The web sites for the group’s restaurants are among the best I’ve seen in Japan. The thing that got me all hot and bothered about this web site was the vegetable terrine. I feel like a new man, making a big trip across town to eat vegetable terrine…without even a sliver of foie…who woulda thought? Actually the picture of the foie with beans in dark sauce is nifty looking too. My companion ordered that, so we covered the two major bases. The only other thing that stood out to me was the lamb, which was cooked perfectly enough to make my companion do the usual “Oh, I don’t like lamb because it’s smelly, but I love this” squeal that people do when they haven’t eaten lamb as adults. And the plates were nicely-presented and there was a surprising amount of food. As with some other reviews, if I remember correctly I was restricted from ordering dessert.

I think the elegant look of the web sites carries over well into the restaurants. This one and Merveille have simple interiors with white, gray or cream, simple art, somewhat formally-dressed staff, and intimate rooms. I think that’s supposed to ‘enhance the focus on the food’ or words to that effect, but it works. Can I just relate one funny incident? As we approached the table to sit down, I noticed a strange orange spot on my plate – looked dirty. Then I noticed that my companion’s intended plate also had a spot on it. Then I noticed that there was a similar spot on every damn plate in the place…almost like the restaurant’s logo was printed on the plates. My companion, on the other hand, made no such analysis, merely announcing to the waiter peremptorily that there was a spot of her plate. There’s a reason why she was not my companion again.

Reasonably recommended, but for me in my location, I’d go to Merveille. All the food, a little less cost, bring in your own wine for Y2000/bottle, and right near home. Maybe far for you, living in Hiroo and all? Anyway, watch out for the funny side-street location – you’ll recognize the place by the more-visible signs for the German bar in the basement.

http://www.augoutdujour-group.com/au/index.html 03-5213-3005

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