Monday, November 17, 2008

Table d'Hote, Kayabacho

Hey, my new favorite Italian restaurant! Dangerously close to the route between home and the new office (moving date still to be determined), so could prompt frequent stops for a pasta and glass of wine on the way home. As long as I'm walking or biking, I think it's OK!

One-man restaurants are dicey. I went to a place years ago way out in the hinterlands (Musashi Koyama, which I think is actually in Gifu ken) and found that the combination of one guy cooking and serving for a medium-sized restaurant (by Japan standards, so perhaps 30 seats?) had its charms but also obvious drawbacks. The chef there wanted to make complex food, and thus spent a lot of time on pre-work, which made some of the dishes feel pre-worked. Elaborate and interesting, but pre-worked. This was French, so it's slightly more forgivable than for Italian. Even after the restaurant emptied out and it was just the three of us, there was a solid pause between things. Of course the service was interesting and charming, so...anyway, I try not to leave the state just for dinner.

Table d'Hote is charmingly and confusingly named - the chef traveled in Europe before deciding what he wanted to do, and decided to open an Italian restaurant but liked the meaning of the French name that he ultimately settled on. Evidently his wife speaks English and a little Italian, but she wasn't there on the night. I really suspect that this sequence of events led to the nice French family coming in, and we all had a good laugh together as they tried to figure out the menu. At one point the chef was forced to show his hand, admitting that the polenta with ragu and the spaghetti ragu were the same. This was a problem for the French, who tried to order both, but not for us, since we had had the polenta but were shooting for different pasta options. [Geez, this reminds of me The Little Snail in Pyrmont. I only went there twice, several years apart, but both times I managed to order an entree and main that had the same sauce. Neither time did the staff warn me, but hey. No wuckaz!]

Other food included the terrine, which was interestingly rare and mixed-meat-y (sounded fancy and layered, but turned out to be minced. Either way, enjoyable, and accompanied by the chef's pickled cabbage which was surprising and tasty due to the fresh rosemary and raspberry vinegar used in the process.) and Amatriciana pasta, which was nicely robust (again, chef-made pancetta). There's no wine list, just a 'tell me what you want' system, which in our case led to 4 suggestions at reasonable prices and a nice bottle in the end.

Definitely a place to go after work or for a casual weeknight out, due in large part to its dead-zone location and not all to its ambience, food or service.

Extra servings of national identity confusion, free of charge.

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