It had bothered me for some time, Gentle Reader, that a discussion of Citabria [Map] had not found its way onto these sorry pages. The difficulty for your Humble Correspondent was that it was painfully difficult to imagine just what one might say - Citabria has had its fulsome share of both laud and scorn. All of which one felt was totally justified, which ever direction it took.
A recent dinner there at the beckoning of the emerging public relations powerhouse Lewis Communications to discuss social media provided a thorny and querulous dimension to my dilemma - with the jumble of cuisines and the lack of a overarching structure to the menu ... exactly what is Citabria, and how does it strive to stand out in the survival-of-the-fittest jungle of Tokyo gastronomy?
The wretched Google leaves one no wiser on understanding what a Citabria might be, except perhaps a stunt aeroplane. Apparently, Citibria is "airbatic" spelled backwards which shows an appalling non-grasp of spelling fundamentals and is stunningly opaque as to how it might then grace a restaurant's nameplate.
The inevitable conclusion is that Citabria is a chimera, a pleasant sound masquerading as a name and much resembling the language one often sees decorating the chests of Japanese popsies. Like "Dick Swiveller" once made infamous by a tarento [Yes, I know it's a character from Dickens' The Old Curiousity Shop]. Or "Wanky" as a clothing brand name. (btw, both these examples come from Tokyo Tales.)
Make no mistake - the food at Citabria is remarkably good in an "ok" sort of way, and the service is amazing. Actually, the array of staff and their speed and precision is so good that it is frightening. The location is superb, and just far enough removed from major thoroughfares to be simultaneously convenient and serenely quiet. The wine list is complete, although pricey, and the sommeliers show extraordinary depths of knowledge about hitherto undiscovered wines.
At the risk of appearing to batter on about it, the problem is that it is impossible to put Citabria into some sort of basket without it escaping over the edge and sneaking off to visit another cuisine. There is no avoiding it - Citabria is a "fusion" restaurant with all the delight and derision that this title carries with it. All of which probably clearly explains the dichotomy evident since the first paragraph.
Citabria comes with my highest recommendations. It is a successful and often vibrant venue which has hordes of adoring fans, much like this blog (gag, choke!). In fact, it is probably the perfect place to dine when one can't really decide what one wants to eat. Eat there with business colleagues and visitors, and make sure you tell them I sent you ... then perhaps some-one will educate me on what the goodness is really going on there! When in doubt, leave it to The Bard of Stratford:
Much Ado about Nothing, Act II, Sc. III:
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men [read Citabria] were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Citabria [Map]: 2-26-4 Nishi-Azabu, Minato Ward. t: 03-5766-9501
Rating: Food: 7/10; Wine: 7/10; Ambiance: 6/10; Fusion-ality: 8/10; Price Performance: 6/10. Total: 34/50