Sunday, March 7, 2010
Something Savory, Something Sweet
Tokyo has a lot of excellent restaurants, but it’s not uncommon for dinner to run $70+ at them. However, those same places offer lunch for a fraction of the cost, with most of the same foods in only slightly smaller portions. There's also a large number of European/cafe style places that are really good and reasonably priced, but not really the kind of place you'd go for dinner.
Yuki and I try to go out for a nice lunch on the weekends whenever we can, but had been pretty inconsistent about it during the colder months. We recently decided to try to get back in the habit of it and started off by going to Au Temps Jadis, a small restaurant that specializes in crepes and galettes that I'd read a very good review of. We'd actually tried to eat there last summer, after having seeing Cirque Du Soleil with Mike, Satomi, and Mamiyu, but the place was packed and everyone was hungry, so we ended up going to TGIFridays (I kid you not. Worst. Choice. Ever. This is why I usually do the planning myself.) After that, I'd kind of forgotten about the place and we hadn't tried again since.
Tucked away below street level on an alley off a side street almost exactly halfway between two stations, it's neither convenient or easy to find. In fact, I'm pretty sure you would never just stumble on this place, and even if you're actively looking for it you've got your work cut out for you. The place was packed all the same and we were lucky enough to grab the last open table. It's a small place that's cute in a rustic French countryside sort of way, to the point where Yuki asked "Do you think France is actually this cute?". There's seating for about 20 on the inside and for a dozen more outdoors (with a huge space heater to keep warm). A team of 6 women who look like they're in their early 30s run the place, working out of an open kitchen that practically spills over into the dining area. It's a fairly small place with a lot crammed in it, but ultimately comes off as feeling close and cozy rather than cramped and uncomfortable.
They have a fairly extensive drink menu with a large variety of coffees, teas, and juices, but I opted for a thick and rich mug of hot chocolate. The food menu is more or less split evenly between savory galettes and sweet crepes, so we decided to do one from each. We started off by splitting a gallete provencal, filled with cheese and stewed chicken and tomatoes then sprinkled with paprika. Simple, warming, delicious. We had a much harder time picking the crepe, but ultimately went with our waitress' suggestion and got a chestnut and cream filled one, as chestnuts won't be readily available once the weather warms up soon. There was nothing terribly fancy about either the crepe or the galette, but they were so good that they really don't need anything more. Sometimes simple is best. Our total bill came out just short of $35 for the two of us, a steal really.
I'm constantly impressed by the quality level with which restaurants in Tokyo create European food. Their representations of other Asian food tends to underwhelm and I often think that there aren't enough truly quality Japanese places around, but I keep finding great French, Italian, and Spanish restaurants all over. This is the kind of place you want nearby your home to be a regular at, where you can pop in every weekend and enjoy a nice slow brunch. Eating here gives you a feeling similar to wrapping yourself up in a blanket and eating breakfast on the couch on a cold morning, something basic and calming. If there is time, I think I might bring my family here when the come to Tokyo this summer.
Posted by Peter at 4:29 PM