Friday, November 21, 2008

Boschetta, Shiroganedai

Boschetta will likely sound very good to you based on the following:
- Located in quiet Shirokanedai, in an even-quieter back street, down at the end, just before it dead-ends at someone's house.
- Located, in fact, in what clearly used to be someone's very expensive house. The entryway feels like an entryway. The stairs feel like they're going to the bedrooms. The dining rooms feel like converted bedrooms. This is pretty charming, and extremely cozy.
- The former garage has been converted into a glassware store. They sell all sorts of interesting and modern plates and glasses, and these are the same ones you'll get to eat from in the restaurant. A lot of clear things with colorful line-designs, or gilt edges with textured, translucent centers.
- Menus come in the 6-7 course Cena or the 8-9 course Degustazione (depends how you want to count the sorbet, which was a pretty entertaining interlude, so probably deserves the designation of 'course'. Cena Y8000, Degus, Y10,000 (サ別、水別 - it's an expensive Italian restaurant after all).

The food had some definite high points.
- Amuse featured a slice of zucchini, lightly fried and then topped with chopped pine nuts. Also a slice of deer sausage topped with pickled cauliflower. Also a nice little piece of frittata topped with fresh tomatoes. All pleasant, if a little uninspired.
- Pumpkin mousse with tomato puree. Interesting use of sweet spices in the mousse, nice job liquifying the tomato. Overall sweet and fruity.
- Shrimp fried in spring roll skin, atop a small baked risotto cake. Shrimp was excellent. Something about the frying made the skin taste like McDonald's to me (this isn't a bad thing, I like McDonald's. But I don't like being reminded of it by fancy food!). Something about the rice cake was overdone.
- Pasta, yum. Weirdly, this was the high point for me despite the pasta itself clearly being dried and purchased (I think it's dishonest to make a big deal out of it being 'fedellini' when it's really spaghetti that you've bought at the Tokyu store near the crossing). My pasta was Iwate oysters and panchetta. The oysters were really...plump. You can't put it any other way, and this is why it's better to eat oysters in Winter. They were terrific. I guess oysters and bacon is a normal thing, because it tastes great. Other pasta I was was similar fedellini, but with confit guinea fowl (ほろほろ鳥, I just looked it up) and broccoli and cresson; looked mediocre, but I'm told it was good!
- Mains were a normal-ish grilled pork with salad and lemon, which resided in front of me briefly before being snatched away on the grounds that the other main was inedible. This being a veal Rossini, I was a little confused, but bravely ventured into the breach to consume the veal, foie gras, black truffles and asparagus stacked on the plate as well as the potato puree and thick, reduced jus. Argh, did I really italicize that? Pretentious. The sauce was on the salty side (hi Seat!) but the whole thing was decent.

Right, obviously I'm just holding off before I get to the complaint portion. I think I can stick to reasonable complaints this time rather than rehashing my usual Italian サ水別 points.
- The food doesn't seem that fresh. Some of the ideas are good, but I don't have the feeling that they're pounding the pavement and bullying suppliers to get the freshest ingredients. Nor are they executing brilliantly. Things were lukewarm.
- The service is mixed. There was at least one guy who I found flat-out pretentious; it's quite possible that the sort of clients they get prefer this sort of thing, but he had no grace, in my humble estimation. On the other hand, some of the less-senior staff were quite charming. One bad apple spoils the whole barrel, as my gran-pappy used to say back home in Alabama.

Didn't drink wine; the previous post should give you some idea why. I must give credit though - the wine list was big, interesting (to me) for being Italian-heavy and organized by region, hand-written with cute drawings of wine labels, and including a broad range of bottles in all price ranges.

A decent and cozy experience with some good points! I'm afraid I can't recommend that you drop your dollars here though, let alone your yen. Perhaps the charming La Boheme branch across the street? Or Quintessence, just around the corner?


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