My friend the Expatriate is not particularly talented at choosing restaurants. Far be it from me, Gentle Reader, to call out any specific incidents except for the disastrous foray into Mexican cuisine at Midtown. Or the time at the ... pshaw. Unkind, and unworthy of your Humble Correspondent.
So you could imagine my trepidation when he suggested we join our newest colleague the HR Guru at Azabu Haus for dinner. Images of Dutch sausages and insipid lager danced in my head. What was I letting myself in for, I wondered, as he strode off purposefully into the drizzle.
I am delighted to advise, Gentle Reader, that Azabu Haus (no web site I'm afraid) is a worthy addition to your little black book. I imagine there's no surprise that its guiding principle is to be just like some-one's house, where the dining is elegant but casual and where there is a complete lack of pressure. Azabu Haus is open very late (to about 0700), closes for about an hour for a quick sprucing up, and opens very early.
Once the Expat veered away from the Fois Gras for the healthier salad, I had no choice but to forge bravely into the breach. It was delightful, prompting more than a pang of jealousy from my companions who opted for the Haus Caprese. The mozzarella was fresh and real buffalo, although I must admit to being a little surprised by the volume of the salad my friends were served.
Our main courses (Wagyu Stew for the Expat, Porc for the Guru, and Hyuga Chicken for me) were similarly well-prepared, excellently plated, and served with enthusiasm. While Azabu Haus is advertised as Italian, my view is that it is closer to bistro French. Chef knows his stuff, the decor is stunning, and the location is sufficiently out of the way to engender a sense of adventure and exploration in the normally tacky Juban area.
We enjoyed a Brunello di Montalcino 2004, which I felt was a little over-priced at Y15,000 but which drank well and opened up delightfully.
This is a restaurant for lovers, and the patrons were mostly younger than the three gaijin in the front room. Makes one pine for a flopsy really, and I shall enjoy Azabu Haus with the Child Bride on the earliest possible occasion.
Azabu Juban [Map] 2-7-14, azabu275 Building, 1F; Tel: 03-5439-6671
Rating: Food: 7; Wine: 7; Service: 7; Ambience: 8; Price: 7 ($$$). Total 36/50