Monday, October 27, 2008

Bless / Shinanoya, Den-en Chofu

I must say, I'm feeling grumpier and grumpier about restaurants. There's a certain price band where I'm happy, and outside it, I'm having trouble motivating. For reference, Y8000 for a course is just about OK, but I would get nervous when service is non compris. Wine should be available with a few selections around Y5000 and a significant number less than Y7-8000. Are you listening, restauranteurs of Tokyo? I thought not.

Seems like there are so many places above the price band. From the magazines I've been reading, I would swear that Y8000 plus service is the starting point for a nice dinner these days. Y10,000 is quite normal. Beige wants Y17,000 for the basic course, Pierre Gagnaire more (but I do recognize that these prices compare quite favorably to their establishments in Paree, even after the precipitous fall of EUR/JPY). And that's why I cook...(badly, this weekend). But conversely, there are a lot MORE places below the price band. Bless is one of these.

The decor is 'smart cafe', with a very nice bar, good banquette, comfortable chairs, and interesting colors and fixtures in a bright, not-at-all-too-hip environment (this was supposed to be positive, in case I'm not getting that across). The menu is semi-French, semi-Italian, with a bunch of wa-fuu thrown in - tarako-tofu milk spaghetti with shiso? Check!

The real reason I'm writing this about a restaurant where I haven't really eaten is that I have drank there. Drunk there. Consumed beverages there. This was in the context of wine tastings sponsored by the Den-en Chofu branch of Shinanoya. Great, great stuff, those - for Y3500, we were able to try 5 wines at each. This included several major bottles at each - at the first, a bottle of Sassicaia and a famous red Bordeaux 'second'. At the second, Chateau Margaux's 2nd, both red and white. Then various other interesting things, with a solid mix of prices from Y2000 on up (this 3 de Valandraud was interesting, though Y6000 retail...). This is a great, great way to try things you'd never get into otherwise (Y18,000 bottle of Margaux's second white?).

The food was extravagant at the first event. Honestly, the admission felt like it covered the price of the wine, and the 4-5 small plates per person were too much food. We ate lunch before going, and then couldn't eat everything. Ham plate, cheese plate, vegetables, mushroom pasta, liver mousse (which was too liver-y)...extra glass of champagne at the end... and the food was OK, making this the kind of place I'd go for a casual dinner if I lived in Den-en Chofu, which ain't gonna happen!


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