Food without memory is just digestion

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Brin de Muguet - Veni, Vidi, Epuli

Among the coterie that makes up my nearest and dearest, Gentle Reader, Cost Center #3 has always been a little fey. Nice girl and all, but a little fey. Fey enough to have discovered a love for ancient Greek and Latin well towards the end of a degree in Economics. Fey enough to imagine that others are interested in feminine declensions in the votive etc etc. Fey enough, indeed, to actually want to visit 108 temples during a recent Grand Tour of the Ancient World.

Which came to mind - somewhat haphazardly I'll admit - when the Child Bride and your Humble Correspondent travelled to Ogikubo recently for a wine tasting hosted by the genial Eric Dahler at Brin de Muguet. Ogikubo is quite a journey from the more civilized areas your Humble Correspondent typically haunts, and the good man we engaged to deliver us to the restaurant confessed little more than a passing knowledge of the area apart from the railway station. Truth to tell, I felt a little like Julius Caesar conquering the Gauls. Or Hannibal crossing the Alps, although our mode of transport only resembled an elephant in the same way that a banana resembles an Airbus.
Brin de Muguet has been adding a different face to Ogikubo for more than 10 years as the first of Richard Rodot's culinary enterprises in Japan, joined later by four branches of Le Jardin de Gaulois. One senses the revenge of Asterix in all of this, but with successful establishments in the Shin-Maru Building and Printemps in Ginza there can be little doubt that Richard has hit on a successful model.
There is little of the rustic about the menu - on our visit, YHC and the Child Bride particularly enjoyed the Mousse de carotte et son consomme de homard en gelee, a delicate Gratin de fruit de mer a la creme safranee, and a very well-prepared Daube de boeuf au vin rouge au parfum d'orange. Considering Chef was cooking for around 20, the kitchen did a fine job.
Eric's wine, as ever, were a highlight of the evening. I was impressed with the 2006 Pessac-Leognan and the 2005 Margaux Chateau d'Arsac. At Eric's mostly reasonable prices, you can do little harm, Gentle Reader, by ordering these for your next dinner party or soiree.
Were one ever to consider crossing the Yamanote barrier again, Brin de Muguet would be high on my list of potential destinations. This is a good restaurant with a professional floor crew matched by a very competent kitchen team and I suspect - given a little encouragement - the menu de jour could be well worth exploring. There seems a sense of play and experimentation, or perhaps confidence, that is missing in most surburban French establishment in Tokyo. I should not be surprised if it might rise to 4 forks.
Brin de Muguet is a restaurant to enjoy with friends and lovers. And should you visit, please consider a small donation to the Cost Center #3 Relief Fund whereby we shall do our very best to rescue said fey Child from the fairies. Or at least buy a bottle of La Grande Dame to enjoy with The Child Bride, and toast eccentricity!
Brin de Muguet: 5-14-4 Ogikubo, Suginami Ward. t: 03-3220-5448
Rating: Food: 7/10; Gallic-ness: 7/10; Service: 7/10; Ambiance: 8/10; Price ($$): 8/10. Total: 37/50

1 comment:

Jon said...

Sir Terrence, congratulations on your conquest of the hinterlands. And thanks for visiting this destination; I've been trying to remember the name for months! I visited once around 2005, and agree with your assesment - a bit better than many Japanese-owned-and-run suburban French Foreign legion posts, but 3 forks. I think the chef turnover may limit its ability to advance; the Frenchman who opened La Rainette in Monzennakacho in 2006 told me that his previous position had been chef at Brin de Muguet.

Do continue your explorations however! You've been positively on a tear recently.