15 Nov 2005
Last night saw me back at Cicada in Hiroo. Not much change here, but they seem to be “brimming” with business. So much so that we were kicked out after a couple of hours. They tell me that they’ll be opening a second, larger version in the New Year so we can all look forward to at least being able to relax over a meal going forward.
The tapas style of the entree (starters) menu is one of the attractive features of Cicada. This time we (5 of Tokyo’s finest!) tried the Almonds and Olives, Hummus, Tortilla (Spanish style) with Caviar, the Crab Cakes, some spicy Shrimp, and another item that wasn’t stunning enough to stay in the memory.
Perhaps the slight haziness I feel as I write this was due to the copious quantities of the interesting wines that Cicada features. They show a talent for being able to surprise we diners with some brilliant choices, and then immediately run out of that particular wine. Hard to fathom, as most well-run establishments will remove the bin-ends for personal consumption (or offer these only to special customers). Cicada could benefit from some more thought in this area.
The other thing they need to get over is their origins out of the very fine TY Brewery. TY Brewery is a great concept, well executed and a lot of fun. But to limit the beers available at Cicada to the TY family seems to be a little company-centric rather than customer-focused. If I wanted to only choose from TY beers, I’d go there!
The main courses were rushed on us (the waiter said that we had to finish them in 20 minutes), and while my chicken wrapped in pancetta was good enough, I felt that we were there only to put our money (and a handsome sum it was, too!) in the till. This insistence on getting our behinds out of the restaurant ruined an otherwise honest effort by the wait staff. The normally very pleasant ambiance likewise suffered from too much clock-watching.
A word of advice for the Owners - one of the most unpleasant things about flying back in the US is the way that flights are over-booked. Restaurants are designed for guests, not profits, and you’d be better off to say you couldn’t take the reservation rather than have a > Y100,000 party given the bum’s rush!
SUMMARY: Food 6.5/10; Service: 5/10 ; Wine: 6/10; Ambiance: 4/10; Price: 5/10 (1 Fork)
Cafe de Nature, Minami Aoyama カフェ ド ナチュール南青山
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