Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ireel, Ningyocho (イレール, 人形町)


Y'all are not going to get any modesty from me regarding my ability to pick places to eat. Someone and I had business to conduct with the gods, or at least the one god who lives at Suitengu, and thus we planned a whole event around it. As regards the lunch portion, I delivered handily.
As usual I got busy beating the signal drums and working the pipes of the internets, and turned up Ireel as a pleasant place for a lunch date. File this one squarely under 'modern bistro' based on the pleasant externality pictured here. We stuck our heads in around 11 to say we'd be back at 12, but it wasn't crowded at all. Mostly ladies who lunch, lunching. I think you can take home various products that they make, although it's not as 'cafe/bakery' as it looks in this picture.
A lot of bare concrete is happening. Muted colors are happening. Pastel pictures might be happening. Next to where we sat, a selection of menus and cookbooks was happening, and they were sort of a quiet announcement of the intentions of the house - a blank menu from Alain Senderens (but not Lucas Carton), another from Alain Passard, a cookbook from Bernard Pacaud. That's intense stuff for a little bistro in Ningyocho.
The bread is good, and they'll give you more for asking (or without asking, they claim).

Lunch comes in various sizes depending on how serious and hungry you are. Starting with a Y900 one-plate concept, and going up to 5 courses at Y3500. We went middle-toppy because what the hey, it's a date.
Have you seen this plate before? I can think of a few that it resembles, and I was disappointed by them. This was not disappointing, despite the presence of pink pepper on top, which I like to think of as a giveaway that things are more pretty than serious. A lot of stuffs going on:
Shrimp mouse terrine, with bits of shrimp in it. Nice job, delicious. This is on the dinner menu (as are the other things we ate).
Cassis mustard. This had no business going on the terrine (if you wanted to taste the terrine), but was tasty on its own.
I think the green salad was cabbage, but importantly it had some yuzu peel in it. Creative.
The carrot salad had orange peel in it. A little citrus salad tasting right there.
I like a good cream soup as much as the next guy. This one is made with a new daikon that has a pink tinge, so you get cream, the bite of the root, and a nice color. It's mostly filling up space until the next course.
You get to see two of those. The first one is my fish, a bit of suzuki and a bit of...sawara? I can't remember. The fish cookery was very good, the roasted negi and vegetables were delicious, and the white wine saffron sauce was exemplary. Exemplary, I tell you. These fish are on the dinner menu too, so I'd guess what you're getting is offcuts that they can't serve at dinner. Works for me.
Someone had the lamb, which was also excellent in execution and flavor - especially the sauce. Maybe it's that kind of place. Maybe they're really that serious about the French thing.
Not that serious, of course. A simple, humble dessert to finish things off. But it's actually cassis jelly on yogurt, with the fruits on top of that, and vanilla ice cream heavily flecked with bean scrapings and a little ice around the edges to let you know they made it themselves.


The dinner menu is a little uninspiring. As I read it on the board from my seat, I had the distinct feeling they were serving 'Japanese bistro favorites' that people feel they have to have. This was a problem at the dearly departed Le Pre Verre, where the owner told me, on a repeat visit once they had changed the decor, that the Paris restaurant was packed every night for the creative stuff they had served, but that Japanese guests were disappointed they couldn't get country pate and onion soup.

Still, I'd be back in a second for dinner.
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