Food & Drink - April 3rd, 2005
tokyoweekender_Tableaux Lounge

by Suzy Small 

DAIKANYAMA is a strange place at night. The streets often look deserted, but when you duck into a restaurant or bar, as often as not it’s packed. This was certainly the case with Tableaux Lounge. From the outside, the Sunroser building is a smart but fairly sterile place, conveniently located directly across from The Address, but if you walk through the atrium and down a spiral staircase the atmosphere suddenly changes. Standing heaters and buckets of charcoal warm the winter air, fountains decorated with mosaics reflect the lights, and you can see through the windows to the opulence of Tableaux restaurant. Cutting through the courtyard, past the restaurant, you find yourself in Tableaux Lounge, the attached bar.

Stepping inside, you enter what looks like some kind gentlemen’s club; dark wooden bookshelves line the walls, beneath a heavy marble mantlepiece the fire flickers invitingly, and squishy red leather sofas look like they would be difficult to escape once you settled into them. There is an impressive cigar room, with a wide choice for those who like that kind of thing. The atmosphere
is rescued from fustiness by boudoir-like touches, which make you feel like you’ve stumbled into Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge: twinkling crystal chandeliers, gilt mirrors, oil lamps on the tables and furry leopard print cushions. The overall effect is one of decadent comfort, and provides the perfect environment for enjoying Tableaux Lounge’s main drawcard: live jazz music.

The night we visited, a pianist was playing a mixture of popular favorites, so we snuggled into one of the sofas opposite the piano and began thumbing through  the cocktail menu while enjoying the show. It was difficult to choose: the menu had just about every classic cocktail, as well as some seasonal specials. They also have a great choice of liqueurs — I was particularly excited to see that they stock Frangelico (¥1,050), which is a personal favorite and can be difficult to find in Tokyo. In the interest of research, I skipped the Frangelico, which is delicious wherever you drink it, and tried a cocktail. After much procrastination I settled on a Parisian, and my friend went for a Negroni (¥1,050 each). Both drinks were great: well mixed and thoughtfully presented. All the staff were dressed in smart suits and had elegantly disheveled hair but, despite the glamour, everyone is very friendly and unpretentious. Our waiter was incredibly helpful even when, in our deliberations over the drink order, we asked numerous questions about the various cocktails. We’d eaten already, so just picked on some olives (¥800) and cheese (¥600), but the menu offers a good selection. As well as nibbles, there are more substantial options, including a Caesar Salad with Crabmeat (¥1,800) or a “Chef’s Inspiration” fingerfood selection for ¥2,400.

Time passes quickly in Tableux Lounge — the music is a perfect backdrop to conversation, the bookshelf has a range of art and design tomes to flick through, and the diverse clientele provide good opportunities for people watching. I can’t think of many better places in Tokyo to while away a cold winter evening with friends.

Tableaux Lounge
Sunroser Daikanyama B1
11-6 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku

Lounge Cheese Plate (¥600), Italian Olives (¥800), Rare Grilled Tuna (¥500). Head next door to Tableaux restaurant if you want something more substantial.

Classic cocktails or liqueurs from the lengthy menu.

At the bar if you want to avoid the cover charge; otherwise nestle in one of
the leather sofas near the bookshelf, or by the fire.

¥1,050pp for a live music charge, cocktails start at ¥1,050 each.

Trendy young couples on dates, groups stopping in for a cocktail at the end of
a night out, well dressed music lovers.

It doesn’t matter; all the staff are very helpful and speak immaculate English.