Food without memory is just digestion

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Ristorante FRICK

So what does one do, Gentle Reader, when confronted with a restaurant with a name like "Frick" [Map]? Wouldn't you, like Your Humble Correspondent, be tempted to give one just out of common courtesy? At the very least, we could then answer the eternal question of just who gave one anyway.

Now that the cheap puns are out of the way, you will no doubt be relieved to learn that "Frick" is in fact "FRICK" (well, one hopes you fr^*king care) and serves the laudable purpose of commemorating the founding team of this treasure of a restaurant. Each of them were generous enough to donate the initial letter of their given names to the venue's title. One wonders how that worked out for them ... Isao would be somewhat bland as "Sao". [Most Australians will recognize the previous sentence as another 'crumby' pun.]

Ristorante Frick is, though, a thoroughly happy surprise. Perched somewhat skittishly between Omotesando and Nishi-Azabu opposite the Nezu Art Museum, it seamlessly combines the youth and energy of the former and the fine dining and tradition of the latter. Owner-Chef Fukuda Kei (or is that now "Ei"?) is out to cut a dashing figure on the Tokyo dining scene, and his opening of FRICK in May 2008 has served to create and sustain an enviable reputation. He is often seen at major events, like the recent "Interior" exhibition, and is developing a presence as a personality.

One earnestly hopes that this does not "go to his head", because celebrity and chef-ing go together like costume jewellery and decolletage. The former is trashy and flashy, and takes away one's attention from the latter. Based on this admittedly arbitary yardstick, Gordon Ramsay is thus a celebrity and Joel Robuchon a chef.

Meanwhile, back in Minami-Aoyama ... FRICK sources its produce daily from the best suppliers all over Japan - literally from the farm gate or mooring. The goal is to present the very best of seasonal ingredients in prime condition, in an atmosphere that is both welcoming and subtly familiar. And it all succeeds surprisingly well. Whether Fukuda-san can become the Japanese Rick Stein remains to be seen, but anything that celebrates the food heroes of Japanese gastronomy gets Your Humble Correspondent's approbation immediately!

On a recent visit (perhaps we were early, but we seemed to be the only people there not on a wage), there were a number of excellent examples of what regional produce is all about, with Chef showing considerable knowledge and selectivity. It must be a courier's nightmare, getting all of these "MUST DELIVER TODAY" and "DELIVERY BEFORE 3PM" packages to Ristorante FRICK. A jolly nuisance, one imagines, but the resulting vegetable dishes and delicate pastas and wonderful risottos are testimony to both the skill of the FRICK kitchen team and the Japanese logistics network.

FRICK also has a reasonable wine list with more-than-reasonable prices, and excellent advice from an observant sommelier. More importantly, it also serves Moretti birra ... which was the only thing between Your Humble Correspondent and The Once and Future Blonde withering in the Tuscan heat a few summers ago. A delicious beer that cleans the palette in true PCB style, and never over-powers the flavors of the meal!

Get along to FRICK with friends and lovers - this is not a place one would want to waste on a Boss. It is far too refined and elegant for that. Should you see a fat boy counting delivery vans somewhere in the vicinity, be a good chap or chappess and ask me in for an aperitif. After all: someone, some time soon, is going to have to enlighten these brave lads on the alternative meaning of Frick.

Pip! Pip!

Ristorante FRICK: Home SQ 2F, 4-24-8 Minami-Aoyama, Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku. t: 03-6905-7311
Rating: Food: 7/10; Moretti-ness: 7/10; Service: 8/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Price-Performance: 8/10. Total: 37/50 (3 Forks)

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