Archive for March 21st, 2008

Mikuni Restaurant – Tokyo

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Tel. 03-3351-3810, Fax 03-3225-1324
1-18 Wakaba, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Very Expensive


Mikuni can be difficult to find without good directions, as it is hidden on a small residential street not far from the palatial State Guest House. Look for the sign Hotel Mikuni, incidentally it is not a hotel, it has however, been chosen as a Relais et Château Restaurant and with no wonder as it is one of the best tables in Japan.
A large window in the dining room looks onto trees huddled close to the glass in the extreme foreground. On each table, an elegant, curved translucent plastic vase is placed with a narrow trough only large enough to put about a dozen small stems. In one corner is a huge arrangement made out of branches and decorated with autumn fruits and ivy with variegated leaves. Gold service plates flecked with lavender and blue patterns are impressive; the restaurant’s flatware is of the best quality from Paris and the glasses are engraved with a handsome letter M logo. The dining room has some smart looking modern paintings with a couple of large works taking up most of the space on two walls although, the real art is on the plates.


Fish with Red Wine Risotto

Veau Mikuni

For lunch the set menu is priced reasonably and includes 6 courses, coffee, and petit fours. The selection on the day I dined there started with an “amuse bouche” a custard tart and served with a selection of outstanding bread. Wild mushroom soup “Cappuccino Style” was served in a large coffee cup with foaming milk on top of coffee-colored soup. Poached Bass (Itoyori) with fried Makomotake served with a watercress coulis and sweetened vinegar.The next course was Roasted Duck Breton with a Fricassé of Pumpkin (Kabocha) and eggplant with Sauce Poivre Vert. Next Fromage Blanc “Akane-Ringo” the fromage blanc was studded with pieces of apples and ginger and sitting in a pool of fresh, liquefied, apple jelly.

Fruit tart Mikuni

The dessert course “Mikan” caramelized and perfumed with “yuzu” with cocoa ice cream and lemon decorated with a wing made out of bamboo leaf and mint wrapped in a small bundle in the center. After the Chariot of Pastries was rolled up to the table included among the many choices was a fresh berry tart from Hokkaido and Floating Island. Coffee with petit fours followed. For an extra charge, you can sneak in a cheese course preceding the dessert courses.
The house white wine was at the time a Grave Blanc and the red was a St Julien from Bordeaux.
This restaurant is in the same category as the finest three Michelin-starred restaurants in France and the prices reflect this.

Dessert Mikuni

St Julian Mikuni

Vieille Prune

Vieille Prune2

D’Sens at the Dusit Thani Hotel – Bangkok

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Lumpini Park946 Rama IV Road
Bangkok 10500
+66 (0) 2200 9000
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Very Expensive

Over the last couple of years I have indulged in many excellent dining experiences sitting on the top floor of the Dusit Thani Hotel overlooking the lake at Lumpini Park, most especially gibier in the autumn season, which have included: wild boar, hare, venison, pheasant, partridge, and grouse.
Today I have just finished a very delicious business lunch consisting of two courses, I was on good behavior and passed on the dessert course, terrine of foie gras and lobster was the first offering, followed by a small tasting portion of the lamb parmentier graciously offered by the management, ending with scallops in a saffron foam 550 baht. There is only one suggestion, in an otherwise constantly improving restaurant, and that is that the wine by the glass and house wines could be improved.Foie Gras and LobsterD’Sens is a branch of the French company owned by the twin brothers Jacques and Laurent Pourcel who have been awarded two stars in the Michelin guide for their famous restaurant “Le Jardin des Sens” in Montpellier, France. Philip Keller is resident chef at D’ Sens at the Dusit Thani and the front of house is managed by Jean-Yves Francois. More Photos

Cold Spring Tavern – Santa Barbara, California

Friday, March 21st, 2008

5995 Stagecoach Rd
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 967-0066
Credit Cards: All major
Prices: Moderate

From Santa Barbara take Highway 154 past the summit and turn left on Stagecoach Road.

A rather long drive up the slopes of the Santa Ynez Mountains was broken up by lovely views behind and to the west of Santa Barbara and the ocean beyond, as you approach the summit of the San Marcos pass and you gradually descend one eventually reaches Stagecoach Road and drive down a small winding road until you reach a beautiful tree covered glen where the Cold Spring Tavern is located. Jazz and Blues music is played very, informally outside in front of the bar in the afternoon on weekends and moves inside by the fireplace as night falls.
For more than 100 years the Cold Spring Tavern has been a way station for travelers making the difficult climb over San Marcos Pass. Established in the 1880’s as a stagecoach relay post it has earned a rugged past with cowboys, bandits and buried treasure playing a part in its history. Two bandits once held up the stage when it stopped at the tavern and made off with the Wells Fargo box holding $50,000 in gold coins. A posse caught the bandits, but the bandits carried the box’s whereabouts to the gallows. Roy Rogers once spent seven hours tending bar, and no one recognized him, he seemed like just a simple cowboy from the valley. Things have remained the same since those days and there is still a fire in the fireplace and hearty menu of homemade breads and soups, stews and game.
And the quaint restaurant next door to the bar is charming with fireplaces burning in every room, and you are glad they are there! The menu offers hearty fare that fits into the setting, along with the almost year-round cold temperatures, and offers mainly stew, terrine, and game that is served by a quite knowledgeable staff.
Starters might include: Old Country Game Pate with a salad of white beans, nuts and sherry vinegar, Venison sausage with a medley of sautéed mushrooms and garlic Platter of Appetizers, Pate, Venison sausage and artichoke hearts.
Main courses, for example, might include: Sautéed Medallions of Venison with Roma tomatoes and basil, Grilled Carolina quail, Porcini mushroom Fettuccini, Charbroiled boneless half Chicken, Sautéed New York Steak with black, green, red and yellow peppercorns, sautéed Medallions of Rabbit with wild mushrooms and garlic, grilled filet of New Zealand Venison with wild Lingonberries and red wine.
The wine list is brief but adequate.