Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bistro Lyon, Otemachi

You're not going to believe this one - I hadn't been to the casual bistro place in the basement of the building across the street? Well, no. It's generally kinda crowded, but it's more my contrariness menifesting in a desire to avoid buildings that more people frequent. With a late lunch promising limited crowding, I thought it was time to notch this one off.

I have this concept regarding foreign restaurants in Japan, the old vs. new thing. 'Old' implies that the chef learned his cheffing years ago, and also that he hasn't upgraded since then. Tools that are used but not sharpened rust over time, and 'old' cooking is that which feels tired and lacks clarity or sharpness. If I may potificate in this fashion. One of the cookbooks on the wall is by Alain Chapel (I think it was called "Cooking is much more than recipes"), who received his third star in 1970, and that's approximately the time period of the food. Fortunately bistro food is classic, and Bistro Lyon has a cool menu that includes confit chicken, roast duck breast, and other bistro favorites, at lunch time and for lunch prices. I had the steak hache, also known as a burger with brown sauce. No fries, unfortunately.

I will say this, it wasn't bad. But as brown sauces go, advertising this one as 'house-made demiglace' leads one to expect a bit more, especially when the last house-made demiglace one had was the really exceptional version at Bistro Bonnes Mares in Kanda (good lord, that was July?!). This is a good deal more in the direction of canned demiglace, which is a little sad and not at all something that M. Chapel would have approved (especially given his share in the invention of Cuisine Nouvelle, with fewer heavy sauces). But I would have no problem seeing what this place was like at night...after I tried the night offerings at four or five bistros just north of the river.

Special points for the waitress, who looked and sounded Japanese but was actually French and only arrived recently. Authentic in such an interesting way (as well as a nice person)!

This is linked to the Town Cryers and also What the Dickens. And the web site promises "Fine Wine, Happy Food, Woody Interior", so you really can't go wrong!

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