Friday, October 16, 2009

Le Nougat, Ginza

It seems to me like Da Nugget has been open for years. It hasn't though - it's going on two. It's probably something about the classicist bistro decor that makes it hard to determine how long it's been there. There are several floors though, so the bright, somewhat hard aspect of the ground floor may give way to one that's softer and more date-worthy upstairs. Showing French movies on the wall by the bathroom is a funny touch too.

The hostess/bartender here is fantastic - her manner is completely polite and graceful in a way that makes you think she must have retired from a related profession and opened this restaurant (if indeed it's her restaurant). The other staff are on the young and male side, but in a responsive and friendly way. They're open late (2 AM) and are certainly doing a good job of catering to various types of parties through the evening.

The menu is responsive and friendly too - bistro favorites, glasses of wine. I was surprised at first by the expense of some items - like the cassoulet, which is Y3800 for the full order. While were there, a table of 8 got the full order and split it so that everyone got a decent two scoops. The half portion for Y2200 was more normally sized, and was quite sufficient for our purposes. The other major item was a country-style pate, which was excellent - various types of meat, properly ground and mixed with fat, and an intriguing spice blend (if I may say so). I wouldn't be surprised to find that this is one of the standout items on the menu, despite my paltry explorations. A small lentil salad was also approriately 'earthy' and 'beany'.

Glass wines tend toward being fully-priced, but this is Japan and bottled wine is fully-priced too. There seemed to be a number of interesting choices - with two semi-random picks I got a completely dry Alsatian riesling that maintained all the nice flowery smells, and a very complex and interesting red French vin de table. I'm a sucker for vin de table - I figure if someone believes in their product enough that they're not going to be stopped by a little thing like the government raters rejecting their wine, they must be on to something. In this case, yes.

We also had two desserts (since the preceding was split two ways, we had space and excuse, or means and motive, as you like). Both were in the 'requires 30 minutes' category, but were worthwhile. The apple tart was a lattice-domed pastry concoction with just-cooked apples (and just-baked pastry, obviously) and the clafoutis of the day (chestnut) was rich and nutty and buttery. They know how to do a crust there, no arguments.

I can see Da Nugget being a great choice as part of an evening, to wind down after work, or just because you're walking by. It's next to a jazz club (Swing City), so consider that before or after to round out the evening. I know I will be!

That was a cheezy ending, wasn't it?

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