Guest diner Ben Meehan gives a guy’s perspective on dining out
You can’t beat Tokyo Tower for a meeting point, no matter how long you’ve lived in Tokyo. It really sets the scene for a grand, European flavored evening. We bustled by the visitors who came to bask in awe at the landmark, and soon spied our destination: a beautiful restaurant named Garb Pintino.
Cool lounge jazz greeted us on this unseasonably warm evening, but by far the most impressive thing about Garb Pintino is the unbelievable view of Tokyo Tower—from below. Dining under the impressive, and impressively lit, tower really is quite an experience.
Garb Pintino have no problems competing with such a scene-stealing view however. Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted in English and led through the candlelit interior, which is divided into three tasteful areas. The first is complete with a transparent roof for maximum tower viewing pleasure, and absolutely ideal for Tokyo’s cool autumn weather. Next came the candlelit interior which was open and spacious, boasting a full bar and DJ space (Garb Pintino hosts regular music events—check webpage for info). We were led further into the interior to the private lounge. I was excited to hear that it’s available to book for only ¥2,000 per person. The lounge has a funky relaxed space with 70s style couches and chairs. With a little imagination it feels like the VIP area in a top Omotesando club. They even have a large display case of Cuban hand rolled cigars available for relaxing after dinner, or for enjoying with a few drinks.
We decided to start the evening off with wine. We were in luck—the cellar boasted a large selection of about 500 wines, European as well as choice new world wines were featured, all ranging in styles as well as price. We went for an amazing Gevrey Chambertin 2001 pinot noir (¥8,400).
Browsing the menu, you soon discover that it truly is a European-inspired restaurant with Italian, French, Spanish and Greek to name but a few of the cooking styles represented. Worthy of note though, is that all ingredients are locally sourced here in Japan. The menu also changes, reflecting the Japanese seasons. Recommendations are written on the walls where I spotted our appetizer: Grilled Hokkaido Asparagus Milanese (¥1,050). What really impressed me about this dish is its simplicity, large fresh asparagus with an egg (sunny side up), cheese sauce with fresh prosciutto garnished with pepper—absolutely fantastic!
We followed this up with a main dish of kurogewagyu, braised fillet of beef with vegetables and herbs (¥2,400). Again, very simple but effective. Served in a French-style pot, the waiter theatrically lifted the lid to unleash an intense thyme flavored smell, provoking oohs and aahhs from my companions. On closer inspection, the large fillet of beef, potatoes, wild mushrooms, tomatoes and thyme are all sitting on a thick bed of solid crystal sea salt. It really is mouth-watering stuff. The waiter expertly dishes out and carves the fillet, which to my delight is medium cooked and very lean.
We then moved on to dessert, the full picture menu boasting some seriously enticing offers. I went for the panna cotta, slightly flavored with cognac, complimented with fresh strawberry sauce and raspberries, and surprisingly, lightly drizzled with olive oil. My companions all went for the more traditional delectable baked cheesecake. Finally, we finished up with almond cappuccinos (¥600) which the barista designed with a heart for the ladies and a leaf for the boys.
My overall impression of Garb Pintino is that their varying atmospheres and excellent European foods are there to accommodate your own style…casual dining at it’s best!
WHAT TO EAT
Check the boards for seasonal specials. Ask the bilingual staff for recommendations, vegetarian options available.
WHAT TO DRINK
Try the Californian Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon (¥9,200).
WHERE TO SIT
If you’re there for the view, sit in the conservatory. Alternatively, if you’re there for the music and overall vibe, sit in the lounge. There is a private lounge for those who want the VIP experience.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
Expect to spend about ¥5,000 per person for dinner. Wines range from ¥3,000-¥35,000.
WHO GOES THERE?
We saw couples, businessmen, and friends, with about a third of them foreigners.
WHO TO ASK FOR?
Kishi-san, the always-smiling manager. But most of the staff can speak English.
Garb Pintino Restaurant
3-5-4 Shiba-Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo