Lunch at Pachon
Trying to figure out a last meal or two has been difficult. Met a Vietnamese woman, young, beautiful and very happily married who wanted to do French so what the hell. Checked the Robuchons, and other top ones and located a restaurant specializing in cassoulet. Having two mediocre ones in Paris this last trip figured couldnot be worse and at least try a French restaurant here not fusion, but French. Wow. appearance thought was in auberge in Toulouse. All cutlery, plates, napkins, glasses were French, Flowers french style and beautiful. Were given a table for 6 for 2, with a little chair for the lady`s pocketbook. Huge fireplace with great chunks of wood ceremoniously thrown on as needed. Various cuts of meat cooked on grill in front of fireplace. Service was proper but fun. Amuse was a red pepper puree spiked with basque paprika(pimenton), smooth and flavorful. Entrees were a carpaccio of sea bream flavored with yuzu and olive oil and a salad with cepes, chantarelles and confit du gesier, now l tasted France. Plats were joue du boeuf, beef cheeks, in a madeira reduction, cooked exactly right and the sought after cassoulet. Who knew l would find a stellar cassoulet in Tokyo, it was indeed, large chunks of pork, lamb, and sausage with haricot des Tarbais cooked to a crispy exterior, it was a killer( perhaps in two ways), ate every drop. They then threw in a soup of rutabaga that was worth the trip alone. Followed by salt caramel ice cream and a perfect tuile, then at least 20 mignardaise, amazingly all perfect, for me favorites were a great caramel, a passion fruit and chocolate macaron, and a lavender piece of chocolate. Skipped the cheese tray with five french cheeses in good condition as getting full. Then espresso, that kept getting replaced as needed. This place blew my socks off. Not a missed note at any level. And it was cheap, yes cheap. This menu for the two of us with an absurdly expensive bottle of Badoit water( netted out at 1800 yen) cost a less than princely sum of 11,000 yen. Would have paid at least double in Paris and as this last trip showed would not have been close in quality. This was a super winner,a joy to write about.
For Cassoulet, I can recommend Lauburu in Omotesando.It's very reasonable and more casual than Pachon.
In English, see:
My only reservations about this place are (i) they do not allow you to share plates (and seem offended if you ask); and (ii) the service can at times be inattentive. I was there one evening with friends and a Japanese movie actress was at a nearby table...while they fawned over her and her guest, they treated us somewhat like a nuisance (think John Cleese a la Fawlty Towers). Just a bad night maybe...I still do recommend it for their cassoulet, which is perfect for this cold weather.
I had dinner at Pachon last night. Great room, with the fireplace (good idea when it is zero degrees outside). Had the 6,300 yen 3-course dinner set, which was really more like 6 courses, since there were two pre-appetizers and the mignardise cart, which although not of L'Osier's heft and caliber, quite fine. Service was very good, sharp and thoughtful without being pompous.
I also had the Cassoulet, which was described as "heavy", which it certainly was, but very nicely done with lots of tasty beans. I had the faisan terrine to start, which was good, but not outstanding. Solid cheese cart. The only weak point was the bread, which was some pretty pedestrian (but high quality) baguette, no other selections.
Overall, a very nice and satisfying meal, and great value for money.
Great tip about Pachon. I'm a real sucker for southwestern regional cuisine, as my first route through Europe was through Toulouse. I've given up looking for anything like this in the US (nothing remotely close in NYC). Andre Pachon seems to be well-known in Tokyo for helping to bring classical and regional French cuisine to Japan. His chefs were contestants in Iron Chef when it was in production. And the lunch menu with the cassoulet seems like a real bargain. Will keep this place in my notes for my next Tokyo visit.