Muse, the Enchantress

Food & Drink - February 21st, 2003
Dan and Gia

by Dan Riney & Gia Payne

Girl & Guy Guide

GIA

What a siren song Muse sang for me. Very stylish interior and a good stiff vodka martini of the ilk I used to enjoy at G Martini’s. On a Saturday night a group of girlfriends and I managed to wreck a wee bit of havoc before Dan strolled in. (Wearing a tasteful navy turtle-neck, I might add. My hard work is starting to pay off.) I promptly ceased my shenanigans to keep the bevy of cute, coiffed masses at bay from my beau.

The crowd was fun. There was a solid sample of the usual suspects career wise: bankers and tech heads, a lawyer, an architect, an engineer here and there. I did ferret out some artistic types with “proj­ects” in the works; they always get high marks from me for bar chit­chat. But no matter their occupa­tion, aftershave or lip gloss, in gen­eral the group was grown up with­out being either stodgy or uptight.

You can easily snag a cozy table and get away from the noise or plop down mid-bustle. Muse has an excellent ratio of men-to-women. Though there’s a pool table near the front door, I can’t imagine any guy shooting pool when there are so many pretty girls about. (Actually, I want to go back to pick up leads on hip boutiques to shop.) But then again, that foyer billiards table is the perfect vantage from which to survey everyone who walks in.

Muse has one blemish: her cosmopolitan. I have a three-pronged test I use to evaluate bar staff. One is the cosmo. Believe it or not, I was fighting off a cold this particular night and thought some cran­berry juice would do me good. Yes, I could have ordered plain juice … but I didn’t.

However, when my panacean elixir arrived, it was in a lowball full of ice, no garnish. Next go around I ordered some­thing I knew would come in the proper glass: a dry martini. Actually, it arrived in a cocktail glass instead of a martini glass, but the olive shut me up. At any rate, Dan was once again impressed by my imbibing prowess.

A bar, nightclub, what-have-you that spends this much on decor should know better. Some people may agree with me. Some may think I’m prissy. Others will say, “Who cares? She’ll be falling off her bar stool by night’s end regardless.”

DAN

Reviewing Muse was Gia’s idea. I figured it was just another night­club. When I found out they charged cover, I was ready to get a six-pack and a video and call it a night. No real bar charges cover unless they have live music, and even that’s pushing it.

And the drink tickets that come with the cover (¥1,000-¥2,000) negate the charge, so what’s the point? Have they had problems with the homeless using their bar to warm up? My guess is they charge cover because they think it gives them some sort of legitimacy. Didn’t work with me.

So, with bad attitude firmly in place, I made my way to Muse. Gia, refusing to let my orneriness ruin her night, had gone ahead with some friends. When she called to tell me to keep my eyes open for a blue neon sign reading, “BAR,” I became just a bit less discouraged. Any place with that sort of sign couldn’t be all bad, I reasoned.

The semi-hidden entrance and undercover doorman disarmed me even further. But then nightclub flashbacks resurfaced with the walk down the stairs, putting me back at square one just before takeoff.

I needn’t have worried. When I opened the door, I saw … space. And I heard … conversation. No DJ spinning his crap, no synthe­sized Eurotrash beats, no strobe lights or mirrored disco balls, no Japanese teenyboppers bobbing their heads in idiotic unison, no darkness to grope my way through (although that’s not always a bad thing).

Instead, Muse was stylish with­out being trendy, hip without being immature. And although I would eventually discover the disco hid­den in a rear annex, all I could see upon entry was a pool table and a nice, long bar just begging me to belly up. Scanning the room while trying to keep a grin of satisfaction from breaking out, I noticed couples and groups nestled into cave­like nooks in the walls, reminding me of confessionals and sin. I was converted.

And the women. Oh-la, does Muse have the women. Every shape, size and color, all looking as friendly and wholesome as can be; they’re much more appealing than their vomiting, trash-talking Roppongi sisters up the street. If I were single, I’d be a fixture in this place.

Muse is all bars to all people. It may not be for everyone, but any­one can find some excuse to like it. If the bar, disco or confessionals don’t do anything for you, take your honey for a spin on their swinging wooden bench. Or smack a Ping-Pong ball around in their table-tennis room in the sub-base­ment.

It’s that Star Wars alien bar. It’s your neighborhood pub. It’s a meat-market nightclub. It’s a Ping Pong extravaganza. It’s otherworldly. And in an otherworldly city, that’s no mean feat.

Muse
Address: Nishi-Azabu 4-1-1 Minato-ku, Tokyo
Phone: 5467-1188
Cover: ¥l,000-¥2,000 weekends, includes 1-2 drinks
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 7 p.m.-4 a.m.; Friday-Saturday 7 p.m.-5 a.m.
Directions: From Roppongi, go to Nishi Azabu crossing and turn left at Hobson’s Ice Cream. Look for a blue neon “BAR” sign on the right.
www.muse-web.com