Food without memory is just digestion

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Oak Door - Something Amiss in Happy Land

It has been difficult to resist the temptation to write about The Oak Door [Map] at Roppongi Hills. This has not been for a lack of material, having visited it more than twenty times. No, the problems arises from wildly erratic performance. So let's step out of Humble Correspondent character for a bit to go over my irritations. Comments would be welcome.

There have been times when the food has been very good indeed, and times went it has been very average. Truthfully, on the average side of average. There have been occasions when the house specialities were whisked over to the table with a flair and a finesse that delivered on the menu copy, and occasions when these have not been available (huh?). Or instances when the floor staff have gladly fetched the wine list from the French Kitchen, and other instances when they have insisted this was impossible and that I must drink Californian wine. Not with their lips! [Disclosure: Actually, I'm a bit of a fan of some Napa wine].

On its good days, The Oak Door delivers well-prepared dishes that are both delicious and satisfying. The menu is a haven for comfort food for travellers - as a hotel restaurant, this is completely understandable and perfectly acceptable. One might quibble at the prices, which seem a little higher than other similar style restaurants in the Roppongi Hills complex. But there is little doubt that - on its day - the kitchen has a firm grasp on technique and finesse.

The establishment has a very pleasant aspect, and generally the ambiance is good. Summer outside is a joy. There are times when one feels that the lighting inside is a little too subdued, and on cloudy days it can get a little dark. The floor staff are generally polite and well-briefed, except when we are engaging in a wine list "conversation".

On its not-so-good days, The Oak Door finds it difficult to decide whether it is a bar or a restaurant. The strange juxtaposition of these two roles is unusual in Tokyo, particularly with so little differentiation between the two spaces. More particularly when the hotel actually has a bar (Maduro) on the 4th floor. But whatever the purpose, dividing the 6th floor space with the mesh curtain somehow just doesn't make the grade.

And perhaps that's it. Perhaps it's the schizophrenia of the dual purpose space, and the effort to reach up and down to two different categories of clientele. Perhaps it's just me, and I've just become too fussy. Up to you to decide.

I think that something is askew at The Oak Door. Not sure entirely what it is. It may well be the restaurant equivalent of A Beautiful Mind. But something is amiss. Let's not embarrass each other with a rating.

The Oak Door [Map] @ Grand Hyatt Roppongi Hills
6F, 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato Ward t:03-4333-1234

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