Friday, 30 January 2009

Le Lion ... Lyons dans L'Orient

There are times, Gentle Reader, when I think that the flitsome Jon would blog a visit to a convenience store. Kua'aina indeed! Not so your Humble Correspondent, who would rather quality rather than quantity of post. After all, your time is valuable and your dining pleasure my entire desire.

So it was with this solemn intent that I ventured to Le Lion in Ebisu [Map] with an English friend to try this recommendation of dear Dominic's. He rates it at 3 stars, which is perhaps a little harsh but perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, said hostelry does not appear to have a web site although it does have wireless access on the patio. Quelle dommage! Je suis desolee ...

As Dominic suggests, this is a "bouchon" in the Lyonnais style. The menu reflects this, as does the service which indeed is convivial and personal. According to Le petit Robert, this name derives from the Middle French expression for a bunch of twisted straw. For some reason, which I will leave to your fertile imagination Gentle Reader, this came to be associated with eating establishments in Lyons. As Lyons was a through point for silk workers, I prefer to think it meant "bedding" or inn. The word "restaurant" came into the language a little later in Paris, and really means a place serving a hearty soup which would restore one (Fr. restaurer).

The decor here is all timber and red leather, without a coconut tree or surfboard in sight. Thank goodness for taste, I say, and more power to this little spot that has been going from strength to strength since opening in 2006. Waiting for my Companion, I enjoyed a selections of French regional beers that deserve closer attention on my - or indeed, your - next visit. My Companion arrived, and we tutted and tettered our way through the delightful chalkboard menu.

Your Humble Correspondent tucked into the signature Terrine de Fois Gras with great relish and more enjoyment, while my companion launched into battle with some French Onion Soup that was delightfully rural yet toothsome at the same time. A nice little White Burgundy was wetting the whistle and the Radio France broadcast in the background provided at least the illusion that we were transported to la belle France!

He polished off the soup, and the plates were no sooner whisked off the table than we were presented with Confit de Canard (YHC) and Market Fish (Companion). Strange to relate, Gentle Reader, but the volume and frequency of conversation seemed to drop all of a sudden - as a serial duck fiend, I found Le Lion's version truly amongst the best I have enjoyed in fair Tokyo. Succulent, and full of flavour that shows a deft hand in preparation and patience in the slow roasting. I believe that the fish dish was also delicious, although I must admit to not paying too much attention.

Gentle Reader, this is a food experience you should make an effort to enjoy. With far too many faux-French establishments focusing on Parisian cuisine, Le Lion offers the chance to take a different perspective on comfortable and relaxed dining in a pleasant and oddly refreshing way. Make a reservation and tootle off down to Ebisu - if you see a grinning duck fiend in the corner, toss me a bone!

Le Lion [Map]: 1-21-16 Ebisu, Shibuya-Ku. t: 03-3445-8131
Rating: Food: 7; Drinks: 7; Service: 7; Ambiance: 7; Price: 7 ($$). Total 35/50

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