|

Patinastella: French cuisine by way of California in Shibuya

by Robbie Swinnerton

From the hubbub of central Shibuya, the walk to Patinastella takes only five minutes, but it feels like jumping several time zones. This spacious, glass-enclosed dining room could have been beamed from an affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Celebrity chef Joachim Splichal, who heads the Patina Group of restaurants (of which Patinastella is the first branch outside the United States), is known for melding southern French cuisine with the produce of sunny California. With a few local Japanese accents added, it works just as well in Tokyo.

Even the simplest lunch (two courses, ¥1,800) is cooked and constructed with the greatest care. A light salad is dressed with intense citrus zing and garnished with slivers of crisp, preserved lime. A recent seasonal pasta dish was homemade linguine topped with a grilled fillet of ayu sweetfish, garnished with a dab of the fish’s sharply bitter liver.

The standout main dish is the beef fillet mignon, which was served at the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards banquet. And if you’re delving into dessert, don’t miss out on the remarkable scorched chocolate pie with Guinness ice cream.

With its gleaming bar, signature cocktails and polished service, Patinastella would fit seamlessly in most top international hotels. Here in backstreet Shibuya it seems almost like an illusion.

11-15 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo; 03-5738-7031; www.patinatokyo.com; 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (L.O.) and 5:30-9 p.m. (L.O.); (Sun. lunch only); nearest station Shibuya; no smoking; lunch from ¥1,800; dinner from ¥6,200 (plus drinks); major cards OK; English menu; English spoken.