Sunday, March 15, 2009

Rabelais, Ebisu

I have a feeling people go to Rabelais for one pretty good reason - you can take your dog. The excitable fellow on the left was next to me all night and kept nipping at my heels. He wasn't noisy, but he was quite agitated, especially when faced with a camera! The whole restaurant is a bit set up for dogs - the floor is sealed concrete or an equivalent that can stand some piddling, while the banquettes are vinyl, presumably for easier cleaning of hair and other foreign substances. Is the health department OK with this, or is it too American of me to ask? As Dominic warned, there is also a shocking amount of pink. And flower prints. And fairy lights all along the entryway.

I think you'll find the Y4800 menu (サ別) quite sufficient in terms of quantity. These two starters were preceded by a tiny baking cup with two escargots properly cooked in lots of butter, parsely and garlic. Good stuff! The liver terrine was more liver than terrine - white liver steamed over port, fit into a terrine with a filling made from French red salt hand-carried to Japan by the owner. The salmon with onsen tamago was pretty good too - I think smoked, then lightly grilled before plating. This should give you a good idea of the Rabelais style - quality ingredients, big portions, not great technique but very enthusiastic. I don't mean this in a bad way; after some initial standoffishness, the owner expounded happily for us on the red salt, the Tasmanian lamb, and the merits of horse (like me, he's never had it cooked) and whale (he's old enough that he ate it in school as a kid).

This lamb plate - I honestly thought it was for 2 people. Being from Tassie, it was quite good, and I steeled myself to work through the whole thing. That little red thing in the upper right was some type of pickled daikon; I wish I had asked how he made it.

Another big attraction is the dessert cart. I thought it said on the web site that you can opt for 'a little of everything', but they weren't so excited about doing that, even in 二人前 style. Still, you can choose 5 cakes and tarts from the 10 or so that they have. These follow the same pattern - nice ideas, quite reasonable taste, but weak execution. On the left you can see the coffee mousse (looks like chocolate chip, but those are coffee beans. See? Nice idea!), pistachio mousse tart topped with grapes, apple-cherry clafoutis, apple tart, and...nuts, I've forgotten what the thing in the back with the red top was. Not cheesecake with cherry topping though; there was a separate baked cheesecake. There was also a candied tomato compote, which was cute (and the owner gave me a few when I asked really nicely).

I have mixed feelings about this place - the chef was waiting for us at the door to see how things were, and of course I love that (rare) level of attention. I wish he could convert his enthusiasm and ingredients into slightly better food, and I hope he makes good on it. I think if you live in the area, and especially if you want to go with ワンちゃん, you might well like it. The outside terrace is also going to be really nice in Spring.

Ahhh, I get it now - the portions are reminiscent of Gargantua!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your comments Jon on the execution, and the last time I went there I had the feeling I'd ingested way more fat that is good for me. But the owner's enthusiasm wins me over and means I'll be happy to visit again for a pig out!