Sunday, 26 May 2013

Salle a Manger - A Silken Touch

We seek him here, We seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere
Is he in Heaven, or is he in Hell
That demmed ... elusive ... Pimpernel!
"The Scarlet Pimpernel", 1903, Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Yes, time for a return.

There is some debate, Gentle Reader, about the origin of the word "bouchon" used today to describe some 21 establishments accreditted by the Association for the Preservation of Lyonnais Bouchon. Seems a little too self-absorbed for personal preference, but delightfully Gallic and likely useful as an argument starter.

Your Humble Correspondent would fain join the debate, but notes with no little delight that the tradition of the bouchon has spread even to these Sakura shores in the form of a number of establishments that preserve the two essential elements: a focus on the cuisine lyonnais  and overwhelming hospitality and bonhomie. Some examples worthy of your exalted custom include Le Lion in Ebisu and the superb Lugdunum in Kagurazaka.

And now, Salle a Manger lately relocated to Ginza and pleasantly packed with happy punters ... although few looked like they were silk weavers or dyers, and most seemed to have bulging purses. 

Our guide was a wonderfully urbane Japanese gentleman practising in the law, whose company had showed remarkable foresight in despatching him to la belle France for some two or three years as a young solicitor fleeing the prison of a career as an enginer (deliberate). During this sojourn in Paris, he developed a penchant for Foie Gras in the French style. Why, then, Lyonnaise is still a mystery but Your Humble Correspondent shares this secret shame and was delighted to toddle along.

The entree course was fulsome and "authentique", and YHC added a Pate en Croute to the Foie Gras and Salade Gatronomique chosen by one's fellow revellers (although the Andouillette and Pied de Couchon were also extremely tempting). My main course was a delightful Cuisse de pintade farcie au foie-gras (Thigh of Gineau Fowl, boned, and stuffed with Foie Gras and forcemeats) which was moist and mischeviously beckoning, likely adding an inch to Your Humble Correspondent's already bulging waistline.

Unusually for a bouchon, the dessert list is interesting and complete - demanding attention and frivolous discussion. The wine list is exquisite, and we enjoyed a beautiful Sancerre as well as a lovely Rhone  as well as (mais oui!) some Sauternes for the Foie Gras. One had little choice but to finish with a Calvados nearly as mature as YHC.

There are some who dismiss Your Humble Correspondent as foppish and vague but he promises Salle a Manger will be a very welcome addition to your carte of inner-city refuges far from the madding crowds of bankers and lawyers. And should you spy a lurker at the door ... why, please invite me in! I promise I won't eat much...

Pip! Pip!

Salle a Manger: B1, 7-2-8 Ginza, Takaya-Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo 104-0061
t:03-62 80 64 81

Rating: Food: 8/10; Bouchon-osity: 8/10; Service: 8/10; Ambiance: 9/10; Price-Performance: 8/10. Total: 41/50 (3 Forks)

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