Sunday, 11 May 2008

A Secret Love - Le Recamier

There are times, Gentle Reader, when we all look for a calm and reassuring haven as we wend our way through the frenetic Tokyo dining scene. Quiet competence, a sharp focus on fine food, and the calm assurance of a chef who has seen it all.

And Le Recamier [Map] in Moto Azabu is that sort of place. The tableware has that slightly battered feel that one only sees when dining with long-term friends or relatives. Sort of like your grandmother's table. Except she could never cook like this!

Le Recamier is of course a reference to the Grande Dame de la salon of 19th century Imperial France, whose portrait graces the entrance and whose wit and charm seem to effuse this charming little restaurant with an air of grand decadence and enormous charm. There is more than a hint of Chef's personality in this glance back at better days, and I for one salute him for his je ne sais quoi.

My recent visit was not my first - the ineffable James had introduced me to this little gem a couple of years ago, and the Tokyo Darkside once visited as well. I'm pleased to report that Le Recamier has gone from strength to strength, and is thriving just off Terebi-Asahi-dorii in Roppongi/Moto-Azabu (turn down the street before the fire station). Dropping in with a Kiwi friend (now there's an amusing irony!), we were delighted to leave the menu to Chef.

After a quick dash at the pate de Fois Gras, my entree was a superb St Jacques turned off nicely and plated to highlight the coral. This dish is a joy and I recommend it to you, Gentle Reader, should you follow my advice and make Le Recamier a regular stop on your Tokyo dining journey. The white wine, Chassagne Mont 2005 Domaine Jean-Marc Morey, complemented this dish wonderfully well and seemed to evaporate in the glass (although the Kiwi is indeed a thirsty fellow, and a man's not a camel you know).

Yes, I'm not ashamed to admit that I went for the Confit of Duck once more time. The duck is such an ugly animal with a frightful way of expressing itself - but the meat is God's way of making up for these shortfalls. Chef is a dab hand indeed at this canard thing, and didn't disappoint with a darling little wine reduction and a just enough of a hint of vegetables to satisfy my doctor's raucous insistence on fiber. Our Clos St Martin 1996 St Emilion was surprisingly elegant yet fresh, and added to the enjoyment of both the fowl and the Kiwi's subtle Lamb (I swear I'm not making that up!) dish.

A selection of cheeses whetted the appetite for cigars - not here, but at the Grand Hyatt. More on that at a later time! Visit Le Recamier often, with friends and lovers. And raise a glass to the rotundity in the corner - I'll be the fool smirking over a grand pate de fois gras!

Rating: Food: 8/10; Wine: 7/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Service: 8/10; Price ($$): 7/10. Total: 37/50
Le Recamier [Map], 3-2-3 Moto-Azabu, Minato-Ku. 10 minutes walk from Roppongi station. 03-3408-5044

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