Let's begin today's post with a link to Terry's review of the same establishment, to save him the trouble of posting the same...
Cogito is a charming, cozy, warm and cluttered French outpost that nestles in a secluded mountain clearing across the street from the Grand Hyatt and barely 1 minute's walk from Terry's apartment. From the street, one sees...well, nothing. I've walked by the alley where it's located for several years and never noticed that there was a restaurant back there. Then I saw it on some maps, then read a review, and it entered my list of places to go before my Roppongi 'death', which is this Thursday. [Fortunately this completes the list, so I can now die happy and move to Otemachi sadly.]
I love the interior. It really feels like a French country hunting lodge, or something to that effect. Yellow walls, lots of dark wood, fireplace, antlers, amiable clutter...and the odd atrium that forms half of the restaurant. A little drafty on winter days like today, but a nice atmosphere (very similar to Harmonie in Nishi-Azabu, which I've never visited but is recommended by my friend Frederic. You can tell by the way he misspells his name that he's French, so there you are.). The staff is pleasant as well.
Ponkan and I were pleased to find the restaurant empty when we arrived without a reservation. Evidently we preceded the noon seating by a bare minute, because as we were being seated other parties arrived in sequence and filled all the available seats bar two. The waiter advised that it's not usually like this, but if you want to make sure you'll have seats it's best to call ahead (sound advice under any circumstances, don't you think? I read a review this morning by a woman who was irretrievably pissed at a sushi place she went to without a reservation because they 1) Didn't have a table for her 2) Didn't have a high chair for her daughter after they waited for a booth 3) Wouldn't move them to a (full) table after the booth wasn't satisfactory. Seriously, get over it and call ahead! I can maybe see that a restaurant should have child seats, but at sushi? This was in Minnesota, which is bound to make you wonder why she wanted to eat sushi or why I was reading the review, but let's leave that unexplored in the interests of ending this digression, shall we?).
The food at lunch appears to differ a bit from that experienced by Terry when he last visited and wrote about it in this post. I'd have to classify it as verging on the old-style French that so disappoints me when I have it, but with flashes of brilliance that make me think dinner could be worthwhile. We both had the Y2000 1-plate lunch (actually soup + Plat + coffee; dessert is Y600; B course with choose-your-appetizer-and-main is Y3500; C course is Y5000). The soup was cream-of-mushroom; Ponちゃん pronounced it to be very tasty, but she's been eating her own cooking for the last 5 days...it was pretty good. We both chose the veal stew over the grilled fish; veal is such a rarity that I feel like I have to order it when I see it. In this case, the one-plate-ness meant that the veal in white sauce came on the plate with a mound of risotto-style rice and also a mass of excellent steamed vegetables. The veal had a flash of brilliance - soft but textured, with a nice sweet and savory spice mix that made me think of brisket (pickling spices; I think this is normal for veal, but I'm so ignorant...). The vegetables were actually what surprised us though - nicely steamed, crisp and fresh and tasty. It's not often that you hear someone say "That's a really good turnip!".
I would potentially be willing to give Cogito a go for dinner, in the company of someone appropriate, and especially if I had the luxury of merely stumbling across the street to get home. As it is, I'm afraid other places are going to claim my dollar in the immediate future.
The pictures don't lie...