Monday, November 22, 2010

La Lettera, Kagurazaka (ラ レッテラ)

Another Monday, another trip to Kagurazaka. This time it was a place you've all seen before - if you leave Exit 1 and double back to the left, toward Akagi Jinja, it'll be just down the hill to the left when you get to the crossing. Wedged onto the corner like this, it's awkward getting in. There's a big red set of shelves just inside the door, and from outside you'll think the entrance is blocked and probably hesitate to go in. It's not - the shelves are placed so the door will miss them by a centimeter or less.

They've done things with it that are pretty ordinary for Italian restaurants in Tokyo, especially in this middling price range - bare wood floors, Italian post cards, sports banners. I think you've seen it before. It might be warmer than average. For lunch there's pasta or lunch course; I was there to eat the course and was hoping to be impressed since it's expensiver than the nearby places I've tried recently. The waitress seemed flustered that I wanted the course, getting the manager to confirm, but he thought it was fine (it was 30 minutes before their stated last order. C'mon. Oh, by the way, Tabelog says they're closed Mondays, which isn't true.). You can pick from 2 or 3 options for each course, and you could guess most of them.

One thing you wouldn't guess is this neat starter of flattened eggplant 'meatballs', quoted because they were neither meat nor balls. I loved the soft texture and soothing tomato sauce, and the taste was such that I kept wondering if there really was meat somewhere in it, or else how they spiced and fried them. Yum.




The pasta left me irritated - I could do this at home, and I wouldn't undercook the pasta either. The chef asked another customer how the food was when she left, and she went all rapturous (although thinking back she actually said "Ohhh, I really ate a lot!" which is not a sterling recommendation). If he had asked me, I would have said "What are you thinking, serving stupid pastas like this?"

"Especially when your grilled lamb dish is so awesome and makes up for the pasta completely! Where do you get this [Australian] lamb, and how do you cook it so sensitively? Great job, dude!" That's what I would have said, if he had asked me. This redeemed the lunch; many Italian restaurants in a similar mode value a dinner plate like this at about the same price as La Lettera's whole course.

The tiramisu was nice too, coming on the heels of an iffy one I had recently. Very soft, a lot of cocoa powder to make you sneeze. Decent coffee from a smaller brand. Hazelnut biscotto good enough that I feel like you should know about it.

That brings the 'bistros visited' count to 4 in the current round. Focus and dedication, my friends, that's what gets the job done. Unfortunately, Brasserie Gus is still the undisputed champeen. I also want to point out that I ran 17 km yesterday and am pretty unworried about the calories. Fit of pantaloons is more the issue these days.

Ain't got time to take la fast train.
03-6228-1484

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