Saturday evening I met my long time friend Michiko for dinner. Although I have known her for years the two of us had not seen each other for months, 7 months if I am not mistaken and a dinner was well overdue.
After some back and forth squabbling via mobile email we finally decided to have French food and she recommended we meet in Akasake Mitsuke, on the Ginza or Marunouchi lines at 7 P.M.
I was coming from my flat near Ikebukuro and decided to take the Yurakuchou line to Nagatochou and then from there change to the Marunouchi line and get over to Akasaka Mitsuke in the just in time to meet up with Mi-chan. When I arrived at Nagatachou I realized, unhappily, that the Marunouchi line gate was 500 kilometers away through underground tunnels, so, off I went really stepping it out and continuosly looking at my watch uselessly wishing time to stop, or slow down, even if just for a moment so that I could get to the damned station on time. Little did I know that Nagatachou is actually the next station to Akasake Mitsuke and I was in fact just walking to my final destination. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was in fact, astonishingly, on time.
Mi-chan arrived and together we went up the steps out into the November night chill. Akasake Mitsuke is full of lights this time of year what with Christmas and Holiday “illumination” and crossing the bridge going over the Kanda River we both noticed the atmosphere that evening and commented on how pleasant it was.
Aux Bacchanales was originally described to me as “casual french dining” and it turned out that this was a very accurate description. At a young age I had a genuine fear and loathing for french dining embedded deeply within, when my parents, instead of getting a sitter for my brother and I, decided to take the two of us along while they attempted to enjoy a nice evening at Erno’s Bistro in Frankfurt Germany. I was 8 and my brother about 5, and, it was torture. Since that time, I have been none too fond despite the fact that I recognize many a french menu are well suited to my particular pallet.
Just an illogical fear. One of those things we develop as children and have to make an effort to break.
Aux Bacchanales is comfortable and the entire establishment has a warm, home like countenance to it. The staff are friendly without the over the top hyper excessive “traditional” Japanese service industry conventions, and, the faces employed there are really quite a mixed bag, Japanese and foreign alike.
We had a reservation and were seated at a nice table for two near the floor to ceiling glass doors near the front and could enjoy the evening view.
To start we had some Champagne, a glass each of Moet et Chadon which was, obviously, very refreshing. Bread was brought to the table, fresh crusty bread the likes of which you dont often find at a standard Tokyo style restaurant. After Champagne we decided to move on to Red wine and bought a bottle, something Bordeaux and it was excellent.
Mi-chan recommended that we order several dishes and share and this seemed like a good idea so I think we started with Escargot and then oysters followed by a very decent caesar salad then Lamb. The Lamb was superb. It was served with creamy au gratin potatoes and green beans.
After the Bordeuax was gone, and this did not take too long let me tell you, we moved on to white wine and several glasses were merrily consumed. Desert was a rich chocolate mousse and of course, more wine.
Through the entire meal the staff were attentive and helpful but in a more personal way than one normally finds in Tokyo and the crowd that we dined with were all tolerable, no ripped jeans or booty shorts, a nice reprieve.
By following the links above you will see that there is an Aux Bacchanales in Roppongi as well as in Ginza. It took me some time to realize it but I have been to the Roppongi location as well, for a birthday lunch in the summer and I can say with assurance that the Akasaka Mitsuke location is preferable for reasons including the overall ambiance, the staff and the clientele.
It would depend on what you are looking for, fine french dining this is not however if you would like to have a glass of wine and something tasty at a place where the wine is not coming out of a plastic bottle and nothing you will consume has been in a microwave and there will be no 40 people deep university parties or obnoxious “Gokun’s” playing drinking games just behind you, then yes, Aux Bacchanales gets 5 out of 5 stars.