Thursday, October 9, 2008

L'Oasina, Minami Aoyama

Typically, the phrase "Homeopathy and Natural Food Kitchen down the street from the cemetery" is not one to make me come running. It fails on so many levels... On a random night when you weren't expecting to go out to dinner, weren't expecting rain, and can't see the homeopathy or cemetery from the front of the restaurant...any port in a storm. And it worked out well! I would consider going back if they accept my petition to lower the markup on wine.

From the outside, l'Oasina has a bit of French country going on - white walls, brown wood, plants, an easel with the menu. Inside, there's a lot of white paint and dark wood again, with a communal table surrounded by shelves selling homeopathic goods (one presumes) and a counter with 5-6 seats. The menu is neat - it's a bunch of photocopied pages with cute line drawings illustrating what you get in each dish (the vegetables-in-aspic terrine, for instance, shows you the precise location of all 14 vegetables that get layered in). The regular printed menu has the drinks list (not wine - you have to browse the shelf / fridge or ask for advice) and a very few dishes that I guess are always on (paella, tapas, nama ham, 'bean dish').

The food was really good! I'm not sure where the homeopathy comes in, except for quality ingredients, balanced servings of meat and veg, and interesting presentation. The country-style pate came on a roast plate (the big silver platter that you would ordinarily throw a turkey in the middle of!) and included a surprising amount of raw and pickled veg (including pickled beets, love the pickled beets). The roast pork was indeed roasted, and came with a few roasted potatoes, 5-6 stalks of asparagus (peeled at the bottom, even!), some 'stick broccoli'. The bread was fresh and hot, the olive oil was delicious. Good food, well cooked!

Wine - everything is vin natural, or biodynamique or whatever phrase appeals to you. The reds are kept in charming white-painted, glass-fronted wooden cabinets that are built into the walls. The whites are in the fridge. The labels are very charming and individualistic in a way that really appeals to me, and the prices are...high. The chatty counter guy recommended a white to us that was very yellow, and presumably so on purpose (it's like that on the web site we found for it). It had a strong floral smell and also a strong oxidized taste. 'Challenging' or 'difficult' would be the right words for this. Good in some circumstances...bad when you find it online the next day and realize the markup was almost 3X. BAD L'Oasina, BAD.

Thought we were going back until I found out about the wine...

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