Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Dame Jeanne - A la Campagne!

Sensitive to the criticism, Gentle Reader, of being too much focused on the gaijin ghettos of Tokyo it became obvious that exploration of deepest, darkest Edo might form the basis of some sort of sensible reply. When a group of my Japanese friends and former colleagues suggested a soiree celebrating Year-End, I saw the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Or in this case, one demijohn.

For indeed, demijohn comes from the medieval French "Dame Jeanne". How embarrassing - imagine a lady being remembered for all posterity as "large and squat, usually covered with wicker". A curmudgeonly comment from the gossips of some quaint Burgundy village, and one's cursed for life!
Maruyamacho, I will admit, is not so far from civilization that one needs to mount a full expedition complete with porters, elephants and tentage. But navigating the jungle of love hotels and restaurants that flourish in this lush and steamier side of Tokyo is a task that only an acknowledged jungle killer can accomplish.
Dame Jeanne is very reminiscent of a quaint Burgundian village - indeed, its proprietors had this very much in mind when they decided 6 months ago to open a tabac style restaurant to replicate the feeling of a village gathering place in the French countryside. And they have very much achieved this goal in this delightful addition to the Tokyo eating landscape.
Maruyamacho [actually, the cho piece means village in Japanese. Egads!] is a difficult area to explore, and Dame Jeanne can be hard to find with only a very small sign and a demure entrance. Your Humble Correspondent happened on it only after bringing to bear years of experience as a professional Explorer-Gallant. Others less accomplished might aim for the Lawsons on the western side of Shinsen station on the Inokashira line. Dame Jeanne is one door closer to the station.
We shared Rillette de Lapin (bravo, Chef!), Liver Pate, Potatoes Dauphinoise (magnifique!), Shellfish in White Wine, a wonderful pork offal sausage, roast venison, and a delicious cassoulet that set new standards for expeditionary fare. Praise the Lord and pass the gibier [game] and l'abats [offal]!
The wine list is complete and reasonably priced (Dom 1999 at Y21,000?) and the service superb. One can expect to pay around Y5000 for food - a pleasant relief after the outrageous prices charged closer to the palace.
Dame Jeanne: 23-4 Maruyamacho, Shibuya Ward, tel: (03) 3496-2755
Rating: Food: 7; Wine: 7; Service: 7; Ambiance: 7; Price: 7 ($). Total 35/50

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