Friday, October 24, 2008

Burdigala, Roppongi

Wow, after all these years, who would've thought that I hadn't posted about Burdigala yet? There used to be a time when Burdi's was really a refuge for us - the place where we'd go on days where the morning had just exploded and we had crunched something out by 1 PM and said "Lunch?" and then just vegetated across the table from each other. It's the slight remove from Roppongi Hills, the tablecloths, the uniformed wait-staff, and most importantly the bread.

At various times I have been less pleased with Bur's. At some point they raised the prices (something like Y1250 up to the current Y1470 for starter, pasta and coffee. There's also Y1800 for starter, fish/meat and coffee.). At some point, the starters were always soup. Soup, soup, soup. At some point, they changed the bread. The bread is, was, and will always be the point, the central feature, the piece de resistance, the nom de plume, if you will. (Accents be damned.)

B's is of course affiliated with a group of several restaurants and bread shops, so one should expect the bread to be good. It used to be a free-flowing supply of good sourdough loaf cut into half-slices and accompanied by saucers of butter. The starter was interesting sometimes, the pasta was interesting sometimes, but the bread was worth the price of admission. We used to speculate on the possibility of a 'bread-only' lunch, perhaps with a bit of water or a thin soup to help get the bread down, much like competitive hot dog eaters do.

And they changed it. Now there's a fluffy, floury ciabatta-style bread (which is good) and some smaller, more dense walnut and/or poppy seed bread. It's OK. It just doesn't make me say "this is proper bread and I want to eat more and more and more until I am stuffed and can't face my pasta" the way the previous sourdough did.

The rest of the food can be god or bad. Sometimes the starter is really good - today a sort of chopped-ham terrine with mixed salad and a few cubes of something red (not beets. Dyed daikon? Dyekon?). Sometimes smoked salmon. Sometimes potato soup (that's supposed to indicate a decline). And one time, I swear to this, and everyone else in attendance will attest to it because they too were scarred, it was eggs yolks and red wine, loosely whisked together. Is that really traditional Italian? It scared us off for a while.

Pastas are smallish and less inspired (bacon and mushroom cream sauce, but not in a crappy way. Some kind of seafood in white wine. Some kind of risotto, but nothing too fancy.). They are sometimes tasty. Meat and fish items are small, but quite tasty in the 4-5 times I've had them (e.g. a lamb chop, a roasted fish fillet, or some seared scallops).

The kitchen is large and impressive. The grill area in the lobby is impressive. The chef's hats are tall. I have been twice for dinner and been disappointed both times. I can't explain it, so I just go for lunch. Today was good, and could be the beginning of a Burdi-renaissance if not for the existence of Provinage...


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