Monday, 30 March 2009

It's still Bon, Monsieur.

The trouble with restaurants, Gentle Reader, is that one gets to - well - "like" certain establishments and to visit them on a reasonably frequent basis. This is your Humble Correspondent's preference. The trouble with blogs, on the other hand, is that one should endeavour to visit as many restaurants as possible in order to please the madding crowd. That would appear to be Jon's preference.

With one's reputation on the line escorting a VIB (very important Boss) around Our Fair City, your Humble Correspondent decided to fall back on Osteria Nakamura now removed to the back streets of Roppongi. This is in my view among the best Italian restaurants in the world, without the frills and frippery of the starry crowd, yet honest and earthy with a touch of brilliance that comes from Chef's overwhelming passion for good food. Oh the shame ... it was full, without even bench space for your portly correspondent and the VIB. Turned away, red-faced!
Nothing for it, then, but to repair to Bon Monsieur. It was (thankfully) vacant of all but a few counter patrons, and Chef Konno had that little glint in his eye that meant we were in for a treat. With the Tokyo Marathon on the agenda (Oh shame on you, Gentle Reader. Not I, for heaven's sake! The VIB...), we opted for fish over red meat and the Y6,000 o-makase to get the appropriate number of calories.
Oh brave Konno-san! Oh noble Konno-san! Your Humble Correspondent's tattered reputation was restored, mouthful by mouthful, much like Eliza Doolittle's was by the erudite Henry Higgins in Shaw's Pygmalion. Just how he manages it, with no staff and a steady stream of customers, is beyond my comprehension. But manage it he does, and I for one am gushingly grateful.
Note to the papparazzi: One notices an increasing cast of thespians gracing Bon Monsieur, including that chap with the glittering attire who grunts and grimaces in all those infomercials for cameras and car navigation systems on cable television. I assure you he is no different in the flesh.
Visit Bon Monsieur with friends, lovers and VIBs. Konno-san needs the business, and I need my savaged reputation restored.
Bon Monsieur: Roppongi 7-12-15, Minato Ward . t: 03-3475-6612
Rating: Food: 8; Wine: 7; Service: 8; Ambiance: 8; Price: 8 ($$). Total 39/50

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Mysterious Affair at Provinage

[With abject apologies, Gentle Reader, to the Estate of the late Agatha Christie... a blatant parody of "The Mysterious Affair at Styles".] Text in italics is virgin Cristie, in blue Your Humble Correspondent.


"The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Provinage Post" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Jon and the restaurant themselves, to write an account of the whole episode. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.

I will therefore flippantly set down the circumstances which led to my being connected with the affair.

I had been invalided out from my previous company; and, after spending some months in a rather depressing period of rehabilitation, was given a month's dining leave. Having no wealthy relations or friends who might see their way clear to funding a little dinner, I was trying to make up my mind what to do, when I ran across Jon from Eating Out in Tokyo with Jon. I had seen very little of him for some months. Indeed, I had never known him particularly well. He was a good fifteen years my junior, for one thing, though he hardly looked his thirty-five years. As a habit, though, I had often eaten in Roppongi, his former haunt in Tokyo.

We had a good yarn about old times, and it ended in his agreeing to join me down in Roppongi to spend an evening there at Provinage with Dominic.

"Chef will be delighted to see you -- you've never been?" he asked.

"No" was my simple response. "Dominic keeps well?" I asked.

"Oh, yes. I suppose you know that he has posted again?"

I am afraid I showed my surprise rather plainly. Dominic, who had been blogging on Tokyo food before Jon, had been a handsome man of middling weight as I remembered him. He certainly could not be a kilo less than seventy now. I recalled him as an energetic, effervescent personality, somewhat inclined to charitable and social notoriety, with a fondness for fine food and playing the Lord Bountiful. He was a most generous man, and possessed a considerable credit card debt of his own.

The country-place, Roppongi , had been much explored by Jon early in his dining life. We had all been completely under Jon's ascendancy, so much so that, on his leaving for Otemachi, he left further exploration to us for posterity, as well as the larger part of his restaurant index; an arrangement that was distinctly unfair to us - his two lesser imitators. Jon, however, had always been most generous; indeed, we were so inexperienced at the time of Jon's burst onto the blogosphere that we always thought of him as our mentor...
"

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Breaking away from the Christie for a moment, Gentle Reader, Your Humble Correspondent must confess to not having an inkling of why he took this occasion to parody the Grande Dame of Crime. However, my two previous sorties (Artichaut and Le Remois) with Jon had proved somewhat disappointing and I was initially attracted to the idea of Styles and dear Captain Hastings as a metaphor for my "Eating Out in Tokyo" dinners. Like Hastings, I thought I would miss out on the "girl". This time, I managed to get both Jon and Dominic to the table and Provinage was more than equal to the test.

The dinner with those two erstwhile eaters passed uneventfully and Machine Gun (fingers) Jon has already posted with [sigh] photographs. Provinage is a splendid venue, with helpful service and that slight edge of innovation that makes a meal interesting as well as satisfying. Go there with friends rather than clients, but do go. As Jon says, it will be well worth your while.
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"...
Dominic at that moment passed the door.

"Eh! Monsieur Dominic," called Jon. "We must congratulate you, is it not so? You are satisified, no?"

Dominc blushed, and then smiled awkwardly. A man sated is a sorry spectacle.

I sighed.

"What is it, mon ami?"

"Nothing," I said sadly. "The others were two delightful restaurants! Thank you for introducing me to them."

"And neither of them is for you?" finished Jon. "Never mind. Console yourself, my friend. Provinage was bon, n'est pas? We may hunt together again, who knows? And then----"

Provinage: Koyama Bldg. 202, 3-1-19 Nishiazabu, Minato Ward . t: 03-5772-7272
Rating: Food: 7; Wine: 8; Service: 8; Ambiance: 8; Price: 7 ($$). Total 38/50