Tete-a-Tete - French ****
Address - Shinjuku-ku, Yotsuya 2-3-19
Opening hours - Open Mon to Sat from 11:45 to 14:00 and 17:45 to 20:30 (LO)
Telephone - 03-3356-1048
Menu - In Japanese and French
Credit Cards - No
It's common knowledge that one of the things I believe in is budget-French restaurants, and that is why in this site they are so much better represented than the Taillevent Robuchon kind.
I am now about to add another to my collection: Tete-aTete is good.
Given that its only set costs 3800 yen, it's not really all that cheap, but it arguably offers enough value (although not in terms of quantity, but that's a different story) to justify that extra 1000 yen bill. You can also of course eat à-la-carte
The mentioned set is very convenient and flexible and is what I recommend: you can choose an appetizer, a main dish, a meat or fish dish and an appetizer which, in spite of the really negligible amounts (my shrimp and asparagus salad contained literally three one-inch asparagus heads and a shrimp), with the help of a half baguette in their cumulative effect do manage to bring one to a feeling of satedness.
Quality, however not encouraging the looks of the cook might be (he seems way too young for his job), is above average, and my grilled lamb for example was actually fragrant with the flavor of good charcoal. The duck tartare was as delicious as it was unusual.
Every other side of the place will be familiar to you from other French cheapies: the location in an anonymous back street, the decor and the atmosphere are all classic of the genre.
Bistrot d'Abe – French
Reviewed by Linda Hall
Address - 7-3 Araki-cho Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours - 11:30 to 14:00 and 15:30 to 22:00
Telephone - 03-5379-2007
Menu - In Japanese
Credit Cards - Probably not
At the conclusion of my meal at Le Bistrot d'Abe (nearest subway station: Yotsuya-Sanchome) last night, I felt compelled to write to you so that others might find out about this fabulous restaurant.
It is a French restaurant that opened in April this year with a young Japanese chef.
The food is excellent, it is reasonably priced (4 courses, 3,500 Yen per head plus wine, or 4,500 Yen per head for those with a bigger appetite), the portions are not huge (which means you don't over-eat, you leave feeling relatively comfortable!). The meals are beautifully presented, and the service is very good.
I would strongly recommend the duck for a main course, it was superb, melt-in-the-mouth, with a beautiful sauce. My friends were equally enthusiastic about their choices. The dessert was also delectable - it was a mixed plate containing the most beautiful passion fruit mousse/pie, a rich chocolate cake with fresh raspberry sauce and a very creamy yoghurt ice cream.
He makes his own bread - it was gorgeous. The coffee was also very good. If our wine was anything to go by, the wine list is also good.
The ambience was very pleasant.
Unfortunately for non-Japanese speakers (I'm in this category), the menu is only in Japanese.
: Their site says it takes just three minutes from Yotsuya Sanchome station. By the way, I noticed an unusual feature (or bug?): the whole site, with the exception of the two animations, is a single, huge background picture.
web - www2.odn.ne.jp/bistrot-abe
Pas-a-Pas - French ****
Address - 東京都新宿区舟町5
Opening hours - Open from 12 noon to 1:30 pm and from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Telephone - 03-3357-7888
Menu - In Japanese and French
Credit Cards - OK
A great little restaurant with good food and a nice European atmosphere, down to the checkered table cloth and the baguette basket, if a little overcrowded. Unfortunately, to eat there you have to book days in advance, something I hate doing. If you are not like me, though, call at least three days in advance.
At Pas-a-Pas they have only six or seven appetizers, main dishes and desserts. You order one of each, and the set with coffee and bread will cost you a whopping 2500 yen. The value they give you for that paltry amount of money is incredible, and they deserve their enormous popularity, but they will have to make do without my patronage.
Carmine Edochiano - Italian
Address - 9-13 Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours - 12:00 to 2:00 and 18:00 to 22:00
Telephone - 03-3225-6767
Menu - In Italian
Credit Cards - OK
The name Carmine is associated to a growing number of restaurants: Carmine, Carmine Edochiano, Sorriso, La Volpaia 1 and 2, Amici ... It has become a glamorous brand, even and industry. Does Carmine still have time to take care of the food he serves, I wonder?
Last week I went with my old lady to Carmine Edochiano to see what it was like, and I have to say it was disappointing: a restaurant where you can only have a course, and that course costs 6000 yen plus a 500 yen table charge and taxes cannot be simply good. It has to be excellent. And Carmine Edochiano sinply isn't.
First of all I don't like the single menu formula. I figure that if I have to spend so much I should at least have a wider choice. Besides, the menu is limited in both variety and interest: just five appetizers and as many pastas or risotto and main dishes in a high class restaurant cannot be enough. Why, Carmine in Kagurazaka, where a set (that admittedly offers just two choices per dish) costs almost half as much, is just as good. The only ones to shine where the excellent and original appetizers, well worth the money.
One last thing: the bread was saltless Tuscan bread, which many, me for example, don't like. Choosing it for Edochiano's tables was I believe a big mistake.
If you want to eat in this neighborhood, I must therefore recommend Esperia instead. You will spend less and eat MUCH better.
February 10, 2000
web - www.carmine-tky.com