Continuing with our series on overpriced Marunouchi top-floor restaurants, here's Aux Amis. Unquestionably terrific views combine with an unquestioned 10% service charge to produce a slight feeling of discomfort at payment time. Nuts. Why does this happen every time I go to the Marubiru upper floors? In this case, Aux Amis came about because Lauburu was pronounced to be 'too heavy' (maybe so! But so am I!), and the suggested alternatives were Le Petit Tonneau (blecch, won't trouble you with a full review but I will mention that it's worth going if and only if you can have a table in the front window) or Harmonie (farther from home, but should have gone here). I felt reasonably positive about dinner until debriefing later, when I realized that I was focusing on the conversation, possibly to distract myself from the food.
Ahhh, the view from the top. It's cool. It's kinda the same view you get from the Shidome buildings, or sort of from the Park Hyatt. I like it, but being one of the guys I had to sit with my back to it!
The food is supposed to be classical French, I think, with some modern touches, I think. At this time they're running a special duck menu (I know, I know, that sounds good!) which meant you had to have some duck unless you ordered from ze carte. We had the standard menu, amuse+4 courses for Y8500 (plus 10% service). The mixed seafood starter was definitely uninspired - tuna tartare (oh, please), some other carpaccio (like tai?) with tapenade, smoked salmon. Hmm, italicizing foreign words is even more pretentious than my usual style! The hot appetizer was a yuba packet filled with mushrooms. I love yuba, and I'm fond of mushrooms in a more platonic way, but this did nothing for me or the other 4 people who had it. Sorry guys; that's a 5 point deduction for improper blending of Japanese influence. My second starter was cabbage roll a l'Alsacienne, or was that a l'Ancienne? (just being pretentious some more!) It was two tiny roll-kabetsu filled with dabs of foie gras; it's rare that someone makes foie taste like liver in a way that makes me say hmmm... but there it was. My duck a l'orange-ish main was distinctly tough. The dark-roasted duck breast across from me was a bit softer and more flavourful (help, help! I'm even italicizing words that I spelt in British style!). Dessert...look, I'll just stop complaining.
The wine list is a bit heavy on glamour - separate pages for the different areas of Bordeaux and Bourgogne; I didn't order, so I don't know what we paid, but we got a pinot that was a little flat. The by-the-glass pinot I had later was much better, with some of the Australian 'strawberry' style that's so attractive to immature drinkers (like me!).
Arrrrrggghhh! Damn you Maru Biru! I'm cooking this weekend.