A recent dose of that ghastly modern phenomenon, the "feedback session", suggested that Your Humble Correspondent needed to somehow adjust the equally ghastly "work-life balance". Actually, it was already apparent that there was a surfeit of "work" - the YHC Over-Work Alarm kicks in at a little over one hour per day, and the klaxons were screaming.
So a brief moment's thought poolside at the wretchedly work-a-day Hilton Spa and Resort in Guam convinced me to immediately reach out to similarly minded individuals, and lift the "life" component significantly toute de suite. Ergo, an urgent missive to my Stern friend saw us headed to Les Rendezvous in Nishi-Azabu at the recommendation of the wretched Dominic; wretched only because he always seems to find these places before Your Humble Correspondent!
Les Rendezvous provides a wonderfully imaginative approach to the dining experience: it features good to very good French cuisine with good to very good Australian wine. Now, a warning to the wise: do not try this at home ... it requires an expert hand, and rafts of courage. Ikai-san (sommelier; waiter, CEO, dreamer) used a Working Holiday Visa experience in Australia to create more than one life's worth of ideas and inspiration. Chef Tsuruoka shares a remarkable vision with Ikai-san, and matches an eclectic and good value wine list with some remarkable efforts out of such a small kitchen.
The dream, of course, is to move to their own space (isn't it always?). The chairs don't match yet, and the decor is spartan (referencing the ancient Greek city-state's military camps perhaps?). But the effect is openly friendly, and the service always delivered with a smile and a sense of sharing rather than performance.
We chose the Degustation @ Y7,200 ... excellent value, and a chance to test Chef's mettle. The Jambon cuit sauce gribiche starter was home-made and therefore sweet and moist; its companion Amuse enough to hold interest while not distracting one's attention. The fish course - Sébaste pôelée sauce tomates fraîches (Pan fried rockfish fresh tomato sauce) - showed a deft, even dab, hand in the kitchen and was served with out the horrid dessication that a warming tray inevitably bestws. Our meat course was a wonderful domestic pork dish, with hints of wa-fu citrus and a delicate touch of herbs. We opted for cheese instead of dessert.
Les Rendezvous' wine list is best viewed via the iPad on offer, although Ikai-san should make sure it stays up to date and is kitted out with some tasting notes and advice rather than just being a pdf of a type-witten summary. Pricing is fair and reasonable - so that YHC was able to purchase sufficient to ensure he neither remembers the vineyard(s) nor the vintage(s)! Beer should move on from Malts, although Suntory was kind enough to donate the icebox and we should acknowledge their generosity if not flavor.
In summary, Les Rendezvous is what it sets out to be - a neighborhood bistro that welcomes your custom on a regular basis, and doesn't seek to replace your special venues as places for celebration. It is ... unashamedly ... the restaurant Your Humble Correspondent would like to set up once the work-life balance meter hits 100% (life). Go along with friends and lovers, but book ahead. I fear this is the sort of place that is going to get popular.
Les Rendezvous: 3-13-20 Hide bldg. B1, Nishiazabu, Minato-ward. t: 03-5410-8110
Rating: Food: 7/10; Wine: 7/10; Service: 7/10; Ambiance: 7/10; Price-Performance: 8/10. Total: 36/50 (3 Forks)