Omotesando strikes this casual observer as a cacophony of trends and trendies, something that does not quite fit well with the demeanor of your Humble Correspondent. Too many fashionistas, Gentle Reader, and too much strain on the neck as one swivels to and fro observing the constant ebb and flow of young pretties all seeking to out-do one another.
But when faced with the need to choose a restaurant that was both within reach and sufficiently sophisticated to dine with two long-term colleagues of the female persuasion, Le Pre Verre seemed a sensible yet affordable answer. I wanted to have a sensible business conversation with people who know the beauty and people business deeply - the fact that a corner table looked out of floor-to-ceiling windows meant that our chatter would be somewhat private. So putting on my best "crowd" face, I determined to push through the milling hordes of date-ers and date-ees and be a genial dinner companion despite the location.
Now, I should first register considerable surprise that the restaurant was not full - in fact, we were perhaps one of four or five tables for the entire evening. While that meant that we received excellent service, it was also slightly disconcerting. Was there something I had missed? Had some hapless Harajuku harpie cursed this fine establishment? Was the financial crisis extending its fickle finger so far?
Let me reassure you all (well, the two of you who read this blog) that your Humble Correspondent is completely baffled by this strange happenstance - Le Pre Verre (trans: The Glass Meadow??) is a good contemporary French bistro located in a fashionable and eminently visitable part of Tokyo. In fact, methinks this provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy good food at a reasonable price (Y4,800) and a very respectable carte des vin without the cat's chorus of out-of-place OLs interrupting gentile conversation.
Our entrees covered the entire pallette - we chose an excellent Bresse chicken and fois gras terrine, Tomato farcie, and a superb chilled cucumber and mint soup (YHC) and considerable debate ensued as to who "won" this round. I, of course, was in no doubt and as a very reluctant sharer refused my two companions even a teaspoon of this elixir.
The plats were even better - my veal cheeks were served with a vanilla custard that was both inspired and delicious, an often too rare combination. A red bream dish looked and tasted good, and the duck lived up to expectations by being moist and rich with a delightful lingering aftertaste.
Le Pre Verre bills itself as providing cuisine et vins d'auteurs which defies sensible translation, but delivers on a promise of creativity and fun. The restaurant would be better served by being full of mature diners, of course, but despite the somewhat "empty" feeling this is a very comfortable venue. It also represents excellent value-for-money and value-for-time-invested.
So take my advice, Gentle Reader, and stroll down the faux Parisien avenues of Harajuku to Le Pre Verre. Not only is getting a reservation straightforward, but you'll be able to enjoy both a little civility and a delightful meal at one stroke. And if you see a chap bibbed and lolling in the corner, have pity ... and be generous!
Le Pre Verre: 4th Floor, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya Ward. t: 03-3486-1603
Rating: Food: 7/10; Wine: 7/10; Service: 7/10; Ambience: 7/10; Price: ($) 7/10. Total: 35/50