Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vin de Reve, Ginza 1-Chome (東)

Vin de Reve gets high marks in some quarters, and I've been itching to try it for some time. A casual Tuesday night proved too much to resist, so I cruised down to The Wine of Dreams for a quiet glass and some nourishment. When I say 'cruised', of course I mean 'rode my pearl-white mamachari with the chopped top, extension fork, and flamed fenders'. Sort of. How cool would it be to have a low-rider charinko?

Navigating through the mild confusion brought on by being in the dead zone east of Ginza, I found VdR pretty readily with the aid of a map. (Handy things, those! They still provoke a mild amazement in me that they show things just like they are, and if you follow the map you'll end up where you want to go.) You too can find it - would it help if I mentioned that it's near Loco's Table Mahana? I've seen that Hawaiian place a TON of times from taxis and such, but never gone in. The exterior is narrow, dim and a little featureless - despite the map, I almost walked (errr, rode) right by. Look for the faux stained glass, and of course the obligatory bistro sandwichboard sign. The interior is dominated by a huge, wide, black, curving counter that's topped attractively with empty bottles of Krug and other such trifles.

If you check out some web pictures, you'll see a fairly extravagant style of food presentation - lots of rolled things, segmented things, long bits, splashy sauces, etc. These are usually warning signs to me in a mid-priced restaurant, but it's not so bad in practice. The cooking had bits to recommend it, and bless their hearts, they have convenient half-size portions too.

The onion tart was a little weird (there he goes, complaining right away) in that the filling was pureed very finely, so there was no onion texture left. Instead it looked exactly like (and the texture of) a pumpkin pie. Crust was nice and crumbly, flavor seemed lacking in onions, but maybe I was just confused by the lack of visible bits. The shrimp-vegetable terrine was better - vibrant in color and taste, with a dressing enlivened by a bit of yuzu (that was a food-writer sentence). As a main, the roast pork filet wrapped in bacon delivered handsomely, being both well-cooked and full of umami.

Wine is the real point here though. On the menu, there are mentions of only 'glass white' and 'glass red'...but when asked, the waiter (sommelier? owner?) said "Well, what kind of white do you want? Sauvignon Blanc? Chardonnay? Pinot Blanc?" This surprised me a bit - can they really have that much on tap? - so I said Chardonnay to see what would happen. And he said "OK, what kind of Chardonnay? We have Rhone, Loire, Burgundy... [or words to that effect]". And when I said "Burgundy", he brought two nice bottles, a Macon and a Gevrey Chambertin 1er cru, and I chose one and it was good. A glass of red burgundy after that was good too, so I think this is the real source of fame and high ratings for this place.

Don't go expecting value, however. The wines may be fairly-priced, but they're not 'budget sleepers' or 'hidden treasures' - just 1er cru wines priced appropriately. Still, if you're faintly in the neighborhood, they're open late (L.O @ 1AM, which is why they made it into the Tokyo Calendar late-night features) and are ready and willing to accomodate. Worth a visit.

Le Reve Gauche? Geez, oyaji gags in every language this week...

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