Monday, January 26, 2009

Aux Bacchanales, Kioicho (Asakusa)

I can hear more curmudgeonly members of the audience already: "You went where?!" Then again, I post some crappy lunch place every day recently, so perhaps this is just indicative of my declining standards?

Aux Bacchanales is a small chain (7 shops across Japan) that strives for bistro-style perfection without trying too hard. On the other hand, it does offer red woodwork, wicker chairs arranged in lines behind tiny round tables, carafes of house wine (Y2100), steak frites... Due to the pleasant atmosphere, fairly low prices, and overall foreign-ness of the place, I think it's a bit of a foreigners haunt. Certainly the vast majority of patrons when I was there were couples or small familes, generally with at least one foreign member.

But you know, it's really very pleasant! It's right across the street from a park. This is a definite selling point, even in Winter - I was thinking how brown earth and bare trees are pretty nice, then wondering why I was so easily duped into this Japanese-style mentality, and realized that the alternative is to be looking at a gray building 20 feet away across the street...so it's nice. There are some cherry trees in the park, so god only knows how hard it must be to get seated for brunch when those are open.

In addition to the aforementioned carafe of red (seemed kinda gamay-based; very fresh and grape-juicey) we sampled a tomato salad (deeply out of season, but not bad with the basil-heavy dressing), a croque madame (very much in the Japanese style, as the egg on top was barely deluding itself that it was cooked, and didn't fool me for a second), and a steak tartare (you know what, it was fresh, had good texture, and the fries were terrific. So there!).

In addition, we sampled the lovely feeling of sitting on a terrace under heaters, looking at a park, for a nice long lunch. Then we turned down coffee and dessert and walked to Akasaka Biz Tower, to find that it was closed for the day. And went home, a little sad but a little healthier than otherwise. But nothing wrong with Aux Bacchs, I tell ya (not sure how I would feel about the Akasaka or Ginza or other branches which are sans atmosphere).

We live in Tokyo. When we want to feel like we're in Paris, we have to make do.
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