Saturday, July 30, 2011

Les Enfants Gates, Daikanyama (レザンファン ギャテ)

The style and food at the now-departed Les Enfants Terrible in Juban were both good; didn't you always wonder what the main shop was like? Wonder no longer. It's s stylish place, pitched a bit to appeal to stylish women, but with food good enough to keep anyone happy.

And terrines. The point here is terrines, which we didn't know until we walked in and saw this fridge packed with Staubs. The menu ranges from terrine to terrine, and on to dessert terrine. This is an oddity. In fairness, they do give you the option of having proper main dishes, but why not go all the way? We did.

Incongruous, no? A place that focuses on terrine, and is associated with bistro-style brethren, and yet is this elegant. It was confusing for a while, but nothing you couldn't get used to. Didn't even reserve the Baccarat heart crystal. Didn't even make the reservation myself, come to think of it.

They started with little fried objects, light and fresh, topped with shaved summer truffle. I'm still not a fan; it tastes awfully funny, doesn't it?

And then it was terrine time. Everyone got to start with this mini terrine, which was aji surrounded by cheese, wrapped in spinach and topped with tomato sorbet and bottomed with cucumber sauce. That's summer right there.

And this is for the bread, right here. The bread was outstanding, by the way, but the salmon-cream terrine they supplied (and supplied again, and supplied for a third time) was awwwwesome.

It's just going to be a parade of terrines from this point onward, so I won't go crazy saying how good they were. This is lobster and shrimp with cooked fennel filling and shaved zucchini wrapping. I don't remember what was in the glass.

Lots of lower-class places have vegetable terrines on the menu and/or go so far as to describe them as a specialty. None of them are as beautiful as this. To top that, this terrine has no filler - no gelatin was harmed in the process of getting it into a smooth and compact loaf. Pretty incredible.

Oh, the foie was pretty incredible too. I mean, you'd expect that, but it's nice when it works out. I've had plenty of mediocre foie terrines and this sure wasn't one of 'em.

Someone thought this was a bit mediocre though - potatoes and pork, wrapped in ham. You might want to avoid it if you go, because there wasn't much to create coherence. Just tasty potatoes and pork products that happened to be in loaf form.

This was a coconutty foam and some tropical ice cream and a biscuit on top. And it was tasty, and not a terrine. The staff seemed put out just to be serving it.

We kept it balanced, though, with this peach-raspberry terrine. It's cool how the jazz up the presentation here, isn't it? Peach-raspberry desserts can be very trite, and a scoop of ice cream doesn't always help, but this is great. Throwing in some green beyond the obligatory sprig of mint is a good idea.

As a finisher, they brought us cigars of chou pastry with tea, passion fruit, and coffee-flavored creams for hand-filling. Quirky and puzzling, but a fine way to finish.

They didn't even offer coffee, if I heard right. Just herb teas, which they brought to the table in a rack of 20 varieties for you to sniff and pick. The serving style was lovely here as well.

As was the whole dinner, really. The staff were good enough that I didn't mind the service charge, and the food was creative and delicious even within its rectangular bounds. Easy to see why this ranks as one of Tokyo's best.

While also being possible to reserve a mere week in advance.

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