Monday, September 29, 2008

Le Pre Verre, Omotesando

Wow, it was just last week that I found my new favorite restaurant, and whaddya know - I've found my new favorite restaurant! Amazingly enough, it's a bistro-style French restaurant...who would've expected that from ME?!

It's always pleasant when you're strolling around a neighborhood, taking in the sights, and your companion points to a restaurant and says "Hey, that looks nice!" and you have the luxury of saying "Really? It just so happens that we have a reservation there in 10 minutes." It's also pleasant when said restaurant is on an upper floor of the Gyre building in Omotesando (you may know this as the 'Chanel' or 'Bvlgari' building depending on your tastes) and has nice views over the rooftops toward Shibuya. So Parisian!

The concept here is evidently similar to the sister restaurant in Paris - nice modern bistro food (they say 'Bistronomie') in sparse, modern, stylish surroundings (50's-style tables with molded metal edges, paired with black and red leather-covered chairs; bright colors; chalkboard menus). The service was distinctive and odd; we felt that our waiter, a mid-60's fellow with a few remaining hairs and a pursed mouth, had lived in Paris and was doing his best to bring back some brusque, attitudinal service (and succeeding - like when he approached the girls at the next table and said "Eat your potatoes!" and walked away).

The real point is that it's real cheap. The set lunches come in 3 varieties with no choice of dishes except dessert - Y1300 for a main and coffee, Y2600 for entree, main, dessert and coffee, or Y3200 for the 'crustacean menu' (all of this from memory, but I hope accurate). If you order a la carte, it's Y4800 for 3 courses. I did this, and still felt like it was acceptable value. But Y2600 for the set lunch was ridiculous (in a good-bad-but-not-evil way). That started with a cured salmon topped with olive-and-something-unidentifiable-but-really-tasty paste. My duck terrine with wine jelly and pickled celery terrine was similarly interesting and fresh. The cheap main was swordfish steak, crusted with poppy seeds and surrounded by a brilliant orange sauce in painterly splotches. The expensive main was veal cheek, which I was mildly worried about because beef cheek can be so soft and sticky, and this was veal. It was really nice though - firm enough, beefy enough, the sauce not too heavy. Desserts were simple but good - a baba with extra rum on the side for me, and some slices of chocolate terrine with vanilla sauce for her. The poached fig dessert looked nice, but wasn't to be.

The wine list is a little expensive for the surrounding food prices - not a lot of bottles under Y6000. This is because of the wine philosophy though - all biodynamique, small-production. There's a good list by the glass and carafe that takes a little of the sting out of the prices, especially when it's lunch time and you don't want to work through a whole bottle.

En garde, you filthy aubergine!

03 3486 1603

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