Tuesday, January 11, 2011

French Dining, Kagurazaka

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a whole community of Tokyo-based friends and casual acquaintances to provide a steady supply of places for me to try for lunch... Today's pick comes as possibly the last installment in the recent Kagurazaka bistro series (there are only a few candidates left, and they're frankly not inspiring). It wasn't even on my list until I visited the home of sometime-reader, fellow aural-abuser and full-time oil salesman JD (just let me know if that was too over-the-top, Mike) that I really got steered there - he and his wife immediately said it was "the place they go" in Kagurazaka. I realized it was the place I had seen whiz by while taxiing from Blue Drag to La Scene ages ago, and on the list it went. It's authentic-looking, as you'd hope.

And it was authentic. The chef and maitre are both French, while a French businessman sat at the front table, waiting for a compatriot who was Frenchfully late. Many cheeks were airily kissed, staff and customer alike. Were I to live in France, or deal with Frenchmen on a regular basis, I fear I would rapidly become discomfited by the lateness and the kissing. But I would not tire of the decor at FD, not if I ate here a dozen times or more. It's pleasant without being hokey or boring. I've already tired of this writing style and shall duly move on in the next paragraph.

The pricing and choices of the menu are both good for lunch; your Y1k would get you the daily plat plus salad and dessert. The middle course (mine; moderation in all things) an entree, plat and coffee for Y1.5k, or the top end with dessert for another Y390 (and some plat choices with upcharges, like the steak). I regret not having the dessert after seeing how good the other food was. All courses come with heaping helpings of pain (storemade, with the light crust and dense crumb that marks most restaurant-made pain in Japan).

The menu choices are a bit better than you have a right to expect for lunch in this price range. Rabbit terrine? Foie de volaille? I had to see what it's like. And it was a finely-dressed collection of leaves, with a limited amount of quite good mousse, some shy tomatoes, and a sticky balsamic sauce. Good stuff, though the lighting of the picture leaves a bit to be desired. Tasted better than this looks. I was almost reminded of the competing plate at Viron, which is more and better liver but at the same price as the whole course here.

Hell, that's a stupid thing to say. How could I 'almost' be reminded of it? That implies that I wasn't, and I can't mention something I didn't think of.

It was the fish that really hit me though. This is kasago in leek sauce, and I jumped right in to order it because I was thinking of the okoze at Hirosaku (although the fewer reminders I have of that sad night, the better). Can you tell from the picture how perfectly crisped, salted, sauteed and sauced the fish is? Can you tell that the onion rings are delicious? And the vegetables just a touch crunchy, and the leek sauce creamed and tasty, with actual leek flavor (not a given)? You cannot, but please take me at my word that fish cookery this good is damn rare in Japan, and doubly so in mid-priced lunches. If desserts and dinner are anywhere near this level, it's worth your dollar, no question.

Just mind the kissing.
03 3260 7022

1 comment:

  1. This seems like a good place for inexpensive lunch.