Thursday, 11 June 2009

Le Petit Courageux - a little brave indeed!

The more faithful of you, Gentle Reader, will likely be aware that your Humble Correspondent rarely takes advice on restaurants. This unpleasant character flaw is the unfortunate result of too much time around those who believe that nachos constitute food, and that Budweiser stands for beer. There has also been little willingness to lend an ear to those from the Old Dart, on the assumption that there is even less likelihood of sensible conversations about food, for reasons that should be obvious. [Disclaimer: There are a number of you from the UK and USA whom I obviously listen to avidly. Please ignore the claptrap above. You know who you are...]

So you can imagine my consternation when a British acquaintance suggested recently that we dine at a "little place" he had noticed. My pulse rate climbed when he mentioned that he had never eaten there, and I was almost quivering with fear after he told me that said restaurant had pushed a flier under his door some time ago entitling him to a 10% discount.

What a horrid man I am! How dare I doubt a man obviously seized with a passion to impress! What detestable arrogance! The restaurant, Le Petit Courageux, is two streets behind the main Motomachi shopping area in a residential area and might be a little difficult to find. But on entering, one is struck by a sense of simplicity and quiet elegance. A glance at the menu was enough to quieten my restless spirit and quicken the appetite. We were in for a treat!

Chef spent a considerable time at the famous Michelin 2-star Restaurant Richard & Christopher Coutanceau at La Rochelle in Poitou-Charentes. La Rochelle is one of the more beautiful towns in France, and the port has an extraordinary history from the time of Eleanor of Acquitaine all the way through to the present day.

The influence of the Coutanceau father and son combination flows through the menu. There is a very commendable effort at authenticity, and one can readily appreciate the classique approach once the well-crafted dishes begin to arrive. The wine list is simple yet well thought through (some of which is supplied by the omnipresent Eric Dahler - my goodness, that man gets around!), and though my dinner companion was a self-imposed teetotaller I was able to enjoy a nice Macon by the glass.

The menu, which also has an a la carte option, features four courses - a light option at Y2,500, a 3 course option at Y 3,800, and a premium menu at Y8,000 where the diner conspires with Chef to develop a special one-off haute couture menu. Your Humble Correspondent was both intrigued and delighted by a special Yokohama 150 Year Anniversary menu at Y5,800 which features dishes from historically important identities or facilities over that 150 years. So impressed, in fact, that he plans a return visit within days to enjoy this wonderful opportunity together with the Child Bride!

Gentle Reader, this restaurant is a discovery! You simply must keep it in mind when looking for something out-of-the ordinary to impress friends and lovers, particularly those resident in distant Kanagawa. While Yokohama seems a trifle distant from the spires of Roppongi or Nishi-Azabu, the Shinjuku-Shonan Liner takes a mere 23 minutes from Ebisu to Yokohama station and from there it is a mere hop to Ishikawa-cho. Or couple a visit to this restaurant with an overnight stay in Minato-Mirai.

But whatever you do, find an opportunity to visit this interesting and satisfying venue. I am sure you'll come away both impressed and satisfied. And should you come across a obviously sated and happy garden gnome sitting on the roadside, do him a favor and help him to his feet. Otherwise I might miss the train!

Le Petit Courageux: 5-211-20 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Yokohama. t: 045-681-2665
Rating: Food: 7/10; Wine: 7/10; Service: 8/10; Ambience: 7/10; Price: ($) 7/10. Total: 36/50

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