by Kelly Wetherille

Any Tokyoite knows that this city has more than its fair share of themed restaurants, from the kitsch to the downright grotesque. The food and drinks at such establishments can be very hit or miss, as diners tend to go in for the experience rather than the actual fare. But in a small side street in Roppongi, Banque proves that themed restaurants can be both unique and classy at the same time.

Diners enter the restaurant through what looks like a vault door, and are greeted by glittering chandeliers, velvet cushioned sofas, and floor-to-ceiling wine bottles and glasses. In fact, Banque has one of Tokyo’s largest wine selections, with 3,000 bottles in the cellar at any given time. After taking a moment to absorb all this, we took our seats and were handed warm, peppermint-scented towels to clean our hands.

We decided to order the prix fixe menu (¥4,000), which includes a choice of appetizer, pasta, main and dessert. Beware that certain options require an additional charge, so it is still possible that the bill ends up being more than the fixed price would have you believe. We started off with an appetizer selection that included a slice of Spanish omelet, salad, pickles, and various meats and pâtés. The smoked salmon started consisted of a large filet (rather than small shavings) of salmon, and was served with cream cheese, olives, shaved red onions,and a fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing.

For the pasta dish, we chose a gorgonzola penne, which was rich and creamy but served in a small enough portion not to be heavy, and the pasta of the day. This was a green bell pepper and scampi creation in a light olive oil based sauce, which went very well with the white wine our server recommended. For the main dish we went with lamb and the fish of the day, respectively. The former was cooked until tender in a delicious, gravy-like red wine sauce, seasoned with rosemary, and served with seasonal vegetables. The fish was crispy outside and flaky in the center, flavored with lemon and served with summer vegetables— perfect for the hot Tokyo evening.

Dessert came in the form of a frozen concoction reminiscent of crème brûlée, but lighter, creamier and more refreshing all at once. Served with cantaloupe and apple slices, it was the perfect end to an unexpectedly high quality meal.

Open Mon–Sat
(6pm–2am, until 11pm on Sat)
B1F, 7-3-21 Roppongi, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-3479-0098


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