Thursday, December 31, 2009

Albente Champagne Cafe, Ebisu

Several champagne cafes have opened around Ebisu in recent years (I say this like I know). Now that I have a little more experience of them, I'd say that they're oriented toward luxury consumers - hardly surprising for champagne. Check out this place - they distinguish themselves by being your champagne-drinking home-away-from-home, and also by being members-only ($300/month or $3,000/year, plus $50 per guest). They're still in business, so I guess...

Albente distinguishes itself by offering an interesting selection of bubbles along with a bit of food, and it has attractive opening hours too (open every day in one form or another; it was practically the only thing open in the neighborhood on the 31st for lunch). They have a weekday special where a good variety of champagnes can be ordered by the bottle for a flat rate; several of these were unavailable, but we managed to zero in on a bottle that they had and which looked attractively discounted on the special. Later research showed that the discount, in fact, brought the price back to 2X retail, not the 3X that seems to prevail on the menu. Distinguished!

Pasta with sardines, Y1000-ish. Supposedly good; I didn't try it since I'm such a polite and gentlemanly fellow. Hopefully it went well with champagne? In any case, the focus here is clearly on drinks, and customers drinking them, and not on the food.

Duck confit, Y1500. Distinguished by being the worst duck confit I can remember. The grayness of the meat and shrinkage of the skin should be good clues. The lightly-pickled vegetables were nice though.

This Piollot was a very tidy and interesting bottle of grower champagne (more body, more flavor, just more interesting than the Roderer I had later that night). I would definitely drink it again for the retail price. A side note, the waitress was very friendly and did a great job managing the bottle for us. I suppose it's not that hard when you have only one table, but I still liked her.

Albente is Italian for "There's a sucker born every minute."

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