Tokyo has long needed a breakfast destination, Gentle Reader, that is more than a place to gather and chatter. Something redolent of the breakfast culture of Sydney, with freshly-brewed quality coffee, week-end newspapers, and lashings of bacon. A place where quiet anonymity is welcome, and where the rattle and clatter of a busy kitchen and floor team is louder than the BGM. A refuge and an oasis that sets one up to deal with the coming day, rather than trying to compete with the rest of the schedule. And we may have found that place with Lauderdale in Roppongi Hills.
Don't imagine this venue seeks to compete on the "sumptuous brunch" level in Tokyo, for this space is famously filled by the wonderful Dom Perignon buffet at The Ritz-Carlton's 45 with its quaintly retro menu that shrieks the food equivalent of Art Deco and Roaring Twenties. Dare not to compare it with Suji's (where my question is more often "why?" rather than "what?"), the Tokyo American Club (Full Disclosure: I am a member), or The New Sanno (which brilliantly demonstrates the relative values of mass production and mass consumption). In the words of one young lady I know, Lauderdale is the "Savoy of Pancakes".
Your Humble Correspondent is, as ever, at a loss to understand this reference except to imagine that it refers to the glorious London icon now operated by The Fairmont Group. Or more accurately, not really operated but being renovated for a 2010 (re)opening. Some fascinating trivia for those of you who appreciate the Gilbert & Sullivan oeuvre... The Savoy was built by Richard D'Oyly Carte who produced the G&S comic operettas, and mostly funded by profits from the amazingly popular The Mikado. Its first well-known manager was Cesar Ritz (yes, the Cesar Ritz!) who arrived with Auguste Escoffier to put the Savoy on the way to becoming a legend. A quick aside: Titipu in The Mikado is present-day Chichibu.
But I digress. Lauderdale serves good breakfasts, and the pancakes are indeed special. So are the souffles, the smoothies (try the banana, strawberry, and acai version), and the omelettes. A small quibble on the bacon - not every customer prefers the wafer-thin American version cooked to the consistency of wooden shavings, and Lauderdale would do well to offer a "British" option sliced a little more thickly from the piece. Even Escoffier found it useful to adapt some of his dishes to a wider audience.
It would also do well to spread some newspapers around (may I suggest The Times, The Financial Times, The New York Times, and various other times) along with some magazines. These encourage the customers to return, knowing that there are precious few other venues offering a similar service. The coffee is fine as it is.
Your Humble Correspondent is looking forward to enjoying the balcony at Lauderdale in the Spring. So, Gentle Reader, you'd best pop along early and annex a good table. I promise the conversation will be ... well, Ritzy.
Lauderdale [Map]: 6-15-1 Roppongi, Minato Ward. t: 3405-5533
Rating: Pancakes: 7/10; Smoothies: 7/10; Service: 7/10; Ritz-iness: 6/10; Price-Performance: 6/10. Total: 33/50