For lovers of good beer, the major event of the spring was the opening of the Nakameguro Taproom. No ordinary pub, Taproom is the Tokyo outlet for Baird beers, the craft brewery in Shizuoka Prefecture that many people — and the Food File, too — rate among the best in the country.
Up to now, a number of pubs in Tokyo have served these excellent brews. But here, for the first time, you can sample the entire range of Baird beers all on tap, more even than are served at Baird’s original brewpub, the Fishmarket Taproom, in Numazu.
Brewmaster Brian Baird has pulled out the stops with his beers. Along with his regular offerings — Rising Sun Pale Ale, Angry Boy Brown Ale and Shimaguni Stout — he is producing several limited-edition ales especially for the Nakameguro location.
At this time of year we veer toward lighter brews, such as the Wheat King Ale or the ever-refreshing P ilsner. When the weather gets colder, we’ll gravitate to the heavier Eighty-Shilling Ale. Serious drinkers will want to invest in a prepaid Nombei card — for ¥9,000, the price of 10 pints, you get to drink 2 extra ones for free.
The Taproom is all about drinking. Baird has kept the place as simple as possible, with handmade wooden furniture and minimal decor.
So too with the food menu; there’s nothing to indicate the Taproom has pretensions as a gastropub. Stick with the pretzels until you get hungry, then nip around the corner to Seirinkan, or any of the other great restaurants in this neck of the woods.
Nakameguro GT Plaza C-Block 2F, 2-1-3 Kami-Meguro, Meguro-ku; (03) 5768-3025; www.bairdbeer.com/taproom-nakameguro.html
If you are in the mood for some serious pub grub, the best place we’ve found in recent months is the Full Monty in Yokohama. Until earlier this year, this was a local joint in the Yokohama suburbs, but now it has moved to a prime location just spitting distance from the Baystars’ baseball stadium in Kannai.
The Full Monty is a true British pub, down to the London Pride ale served on tap. Classic Beatles numbers waft from a speaker on the red-brick stairs and football (of the soccer variety), rugby and cricket flicker on the big-screen monitor over the bar.
But where it stands out from the herd is the depth and quality of its food menu. Besides the inevitable fish and chips, there is plenty more to help the beer go down: Ploughman’s lunch; jacket potatoes (roasted in their skins); a different curry each day; the Full Monty all-day breakfast with eggs, sausages and baked beans; and a range of daily specials that may even include wild boar chops.
But for purposes of this column, three words are all you need to know: bangers ‘n’ mash. The sausages are venison, sourced (like all their meat) from the Meat Guy down in Nagoya (check the Web site: www.themeatguy.jp). The mash tastes of real spud, not of cream or butter. And it comes swimming in a great lake of savory gravy. The flavors are hardly subtle, and the portions big enough to sustain you for a fortnight. This is the kind of food that fuels empires and wins world cups.
Tonan Bldg 2F, 1-4-2 Tokiwa-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken; (045) 045-212-2974; fullmontyyokohama.com/