Saturday, June 26, 2010

Grape Gumbo, Ginza

Remember last year when I went to Mardi Gras? Always meant to go back, but the pressures of needing to try new places have thus far kept me from their door. Grape Gumbo is the father-restaurant of Mardi Gras, with a similar menu and style, so I feel like I've been back now - new place and repeat visit in one dinner, bonus!  It's got a similarly-secretive location, a little north but on the east side of Chuo Dori, somewhere in Ginza 5.

With 4 people at table, we started with a round of the smaller plates, which form half the menu and are distinct in size, style and price from the other side, which is for the most part big, meaty dishes. This steak tartare was pretty good. I'd like more herb and spice and hand chopping, but if you want that you should probably make your own tartare (I've done it, and I'm still here to tell the tale). If you're American or Canadian, you may not be comfortable with the egg yolk on top. I wonder if most people would just refuse to eat this in America.

These deep-fried brussels sprouts were excellent. They're just the same as the 'pintxos' on the menu Mardi Gras, except that in that dish you get 15 varieties of deep-fried tidbits. These are excellent - it's almost like the outer leaves get crisped into a salty cracker, and then the inner cabbage is soft and sweet. Wonder if you can do it at home...

This fish carpaccio was also very good, and the dressing and salad are nice touches.

Endive salad, grown-up blue cheese, walnuts. This reminds me to mention, there's nothing New Orleans about the menu; I don't really get it, but it's all solid in a pleasantly American way.

Great roast duck; I would have said a little overdone since it was sorta mildly-cooked through, but others thought it was underdone since it oozed a little blood when poked energetically. Great duck.

Sauteed fish of some description, in a buttery sauce of another description. I did not sample this item, barely even taking a picture of it, and thus cannot comment.

But I can sure comment on the cold capellini with tomatoes and seafood. It was awesome. The tomatoes were mixed with vinegar and something creamy in a salad-dressing way (you know how 'Italian' salad dressing is usually sorta white and glistening, probably due to emulsifiers? Like that. But hopefully natural.)  The seafood was terrific too - very plump and perfectly-cooked scallops, squid, octopus, mussels, shrimp. This was a bit big, honestly, and I wanted to take it home, but I persevered and ate enough to feel OK about leaving the rest.

I feel much the same about this as I did about Mardi Gras - the prices aren't low, but the cooking and quality are strong, and you can sorta choose a cheaper meal if you avoid the expensive-meat side of the menu (especially the steak, which at $120 was $30 cheaper than the one at Mardi Gras).  I already want to go back to eat that pasta again.

Really, I'd go back here any time. No official site that I can see; they started a Twitter feed about 2 weeks ago but seem already to have given up.

1 comment:

  1. After seeing the photo and your description of the chilled capellini, I had to go make something similar. Very, very good - thanks for the inspiration! I made it with chopped tomatoes, homemade basil vinaigrette, a bit of plain yogurt and ketchup (ha!).