Food without memory is just digestion

Friday, 13 October 2006

More than a Glass @ Cheers!

13 Oct 2006

All of us have refuges (and some of us, refugees!) where we return every now and again for a break from the shivering masses that press in upon us every day. For me, Cheers! in Shibuya is one of those places [Map is here.]

Back in Tokyo after 3 weeks in the USA - where food is more often a pastime than a passion - I decided to take a company visitor here on my first night back in town. Struggling through the transport system or battling for a table in the warrens of inner Tokyo was not on my agenda!
The service at Cheers! (be careful - downstairs is a shot bar by the same name, where the menu is not quite the same) is cheerful and well-intentioned, and while the restaurant is small it never fails to delight me.

The Visitor and I were delighted with the Amuse, some home-cured bacon served with the rind and thick enough to need a knife. After my time in the US, where bacon more often resembles cardboard than flavour, this was a real treat. Succulent, full of flavor, and cured to perfection!

We went on to a Bavarois de poivron rouge (V) and a Pate de Campagne (T) for entrees. The Bavarois was brillinatly presented, sweet and superbly accented by the Crab Mousse that accompanied. For my part, the pate was a celebration of the chef’s art with just enough texture to remember the ingredients (lamb?). My impression was that this was handmade, rather than atomized through a food processor, and it did my little heart good to remember all those times in the kitchen struggling to make sense of the predilection of master chefs towards two-handed knife-wielding.

By this stage, the Visitor was under my spell and he joined me in a Cuisse de poulet roti parfume thym. The poor little chicken had travelled all the way from Brest to join us, so we decided to celebrate its arrival with a 2004 Chablis Premier Cru Jean-Claude Besson. After the abomination that presents as cheap Californian chardonnay (not to suggest that there aren’t some great American whites, which fact I am proud testimony to!), this delicate Chablis was the perfect companion to both the food and the conversation.The chicken was well presented and very good, although I can’t help thinking it would have been better as a Confit to take advantage of the delicate balance of flesh and fat.

We finished with some cheese (Mimoret and Chareuse) that was a perfect companion to what remained of the Chablis.

Cheers! also has a bar for a glass of wine and some nibbles pre-theatre, and take my advice by cultivating the sommelier’s excellent knowledge of European wine by sampling some great terroirs at reasonable prices. This little haven is best suited to a dinner for 2, transporting you out of the cacphony of Shibuya into a small yet elegant parlour in the suburbs of Paris. My mid-West friend and I spent less than Y20,000 of someone else’s money (for which we are obviously grateful!).

Ratings: Food: 7/10; Wine: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Ambience: 7/10; Price: 8/10. Total: 38/50 (3 Forks)
Wine Bar Cheers:Dogenzaka 1-7-9 Y-Place 2F ShibuyaTel: 03-3461-612317:30 - 3:00 except Sundays

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