Friday, April 30, 2010

Betterave, Shibuya

I had been meaning to call the Peafowl to go out during Golden Week. Specifically I was thinking of the 30th, but I started thinking I should rest between some of the other engagements and never called. Then Peacock called in the morning of the 30th, and with a smidgen of serendipity, all was set. Peahen was investigating Turkish places...

I had been meaning to go to Betterave for months and months. The web site is really nice in a cheerful, modern, Franco-Italianate way. Not exactly Turkish. My bad.

Inside is smaller and less cheerful than expected. Not bad, and the prices match, but somehow I thought it would be more elegant. Obviously it still got a thumbs-up.

The first inkling that things weren't exactly Franco-Italian was the pickled beets, which were really good. The olives really seemed to have been flavored with vanilla, again, not necessarily in a bad way, but in a vanilla way.

When we started looking at the menu, there were some odd bits - mostly involving beets, which is cool when the name of the restaurant is 'beets', but all of them were 'ukulaina style'. At some point I put the katakana together with this blackboard drawing and realized that we were really in a Ukrainian restaurant. Sort of.  Anyway, you'll see that it says 'Turkey' in the middle of this map, so I felt like I had delivered against a tiny bit of the specifications for the night.

The menu does indeed have a bunch of neat things, including this deer carpaccio with ruccola. It seemed like the deer was smoked a bit or something, because the rim of each slice had some texture and added flavor. Very good deer though. Too much ranch dressing though (Thousand Island?).

Tuna-avocado tartar feature in both Peacock and Peahen's dinners.

While liver mousse made an appearance in mine. Good mousse, with lavender-flavored honey.

At about this point, the waitress brought us a big plate of pre-sliced, packaged prosciutto and announced "This is a gift from the kitchen because the chef's wife just had a baby." We hadn't heard any noises from the back, so she must have been quiet about it, but we still congratulated him heartily, wondering if the quality of the ham was an indication of how he felt about the kid.

I had done my best to order the veal, but the watiress only heard the 'ko' on the beginning of the word, and I ended up with decent lamb chops instead. Herby crust, ample fat, excessive pink peppercorns. (Are they Ukrainian?) Still victorious, evidently.

Peahen had this fish, which was again suffering from a divebombing of pink peppercorns. I don't think I tried it, but it looked pretty good.

Peacock had a dessert (included in the Y5k B-course) but we hadn't been that excited about the food and forewent desserts other than his heart-shaped creme brulee with fresh fruit. (I still can't believe there's a person in the world who would eat the creme but not the brulee, but now I've met him.)  Not necessarily related to the new baby, the chef had baked fresh Madeleines and gave us each 2 to take home...or inhale as soon as we were out the door.

So far I was batting in the low .100's after hijacking the restaurant choice and taking us somewhere non-Turkish, non-Italian, and mediocre. Fortunately things got better later when I put us on a train going the wrong way...

 Great web site though.

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