Monday, December 6, 2010

Méli Mélo, Iidabashi (メリメロ)

Quaint exterior? Bio-dynamic wines? Decent cooking? Good prices? Yeah, I can think of some people who would like that. It would be too pat to say "And I'm one of them!" because I've gotten out of the habit of drinking wine, or in fact of going to wine-oriented restaurants for dinner. The pendulum will swing back soon, but I'll still be skeptical of mid-tier bistros, and that's why I'm trying to identify some likely ones through lunching.

Aggressive lunching. After a lo-cal, almost-veg weekend, I was ready for a solid Monday lunch, and had the time to get 'er done. Meli Melo got on my list a while back and is even closer to the office than all the Kagurazaka places - the near side of Iidabashi, so it's also within range if you were think of KGRZ for dinner.

That makes it sound almost like I'm advocating it. Lunch was decent and cheap, and I would be willing to risk this place for dinner. That's as far as I go, but it's better than many other recent places.

Because I'm still a sucker for small places that do a good job, and they show signs of doing a good job - the walled-off corner is where they keep their bio wines, and the wall next to it is where they keep the signatures from visiting proprietors of bio wineries like Domaine Hauvette, Domaine du Traginer, and Les Vins Contes. The blackboard menu hits a lot of points you want to see in a bistro menu, although the mains at dinner are definitely in the Y2k range, so it's not cheap cheap.

Infused spirits seem to be a hobby. Serving water from a Ricard decanter isn't related (but I always like it), however the different varieties of umeshu hanging around the counter are indicative (which reminds me that I should drink some more of my homebrew umeshu). Next to the counter were some other infusions, notably one that looked commercial but small-batch and was marc or grappa with thyme. Strictly dinner stuff, although they do offer discount glass wine with lunch.

Oh, I say, that's awfully white of you, old chap... The soup and bread are both rather pale, but the soup was that way because of cream, yum, and the bread was dense, nearly crustless...and somehow tasty, especially on top where the olive-oil brushing had gotten it a touch crackly in the oven. Extra bread should in theory cost Y100; I agreed to this with a sour face to indicate my displeasure, and as a result it didn't feature on the bill. One has to keep restaurateurs in line occasionally.

And one must also keep one's lambs in a row, sauteing their chops and bits to the point of crustiness and then supporting them with an interesting aoba risotto. The lunch menu is a Column A-Column B affair - meats on the left, sides on the right, 3 or 4 choices in each once you factor out the things that were crossed off for the day.

I think the course included soup or dessert, but the base price and supplement make you feel stingy for not having both. No choices, but this chocolate flan was more than adequate for a small finisher, and the coffee was pretty good too - strong and gritty with grounds in the bottom of the cup. Almost reminded me of the Turkish coffee they used to boil up at that place near my old office in the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Happy times. Well, times at least.

Well, it's almost Christmas, so I should say something about being merry and mellow, but I'm too stuffed.

Open at 6 weekdays, 5 on Saturdays and Holidays. Closed Sundays.

1 comment:

  1. Meli Melo was a favorite when living in Jimbocho- the missus and I would usually go about every 6-8 weeks when we were in the mood for a casual but fun evening. Small menu with French favorites and no pretension. Sorry if we acted like cheap Americans but we would usually settle on the 1.5L bottle of house wine (about Y2K- great price!). Much like some of the other "ethnic" restaurants near the Meijiro Dori corridor between Iidabashi and Kudanshita, we never had a bad meal or experience; certainly worth the trip to this part of Chiyoda-ku.