With an Iron Chef winner in the Kitchen, this new French restaurant must be worth a visit – and with a selection of over 200 wines, you might want to stay for a drink.

Vinoir’s concept is, simply, ‘wine and dine’. The newly-opened basement-eatery near Nogizaka station, just a stone’s throw from Roppongi, is aiming to bring a unique mix of fine French cuisine and expert wine advice to the savvy inhabitants of Minato-ku.

“I wanted to produce a marriage between fine wine and fine food,” says Vinoir’s Mitsuko Maruyama Welsh. “I really believe in a ‘no borders’ philosophy when it comes to inspiration and ingredients.”

Welsh is an entrepreneur, trained sommelier, and the driving force behind Vinoir – and he has a passion for good food and fine wines.“I love wine so much, I wanted to collect bottles from all over the world,” she tells Weekender. “Now we have more than 200 kinds of wine and over 600 bottles in the restaurant at any one time.”

I really believe in a ‘no borders’ philosophy when it comes to inspiration and ingredients.”

The food at Vinoir, although based on haute cuisine, has been tweaked for the Japanese palate without losing any of the flavour or quality.

“Nowadays, it’s critical to appeal to women, therefore our food is light, healthy and stylish,” explains Head Chef Okabe Kazutaka. “Desserts in particular are very sweet in France, maybe too sweet for Japanese people.”

Chef Okabe studied in France for three years, at restaurants in Paris and Nice. He is a little shy to talk but that didn’t stop him from starring in, and eventually winning, hit Fuji TV show Iron Chef. “I’m excited but a little nervous as I have never worked in an open kitchen before,” Okabe jokes. “But I am really excited to work in a new restaurant.”

Weekender sampled Okabe’s signature lamb chops on a recent visit to Nogizaka. The herb encrusted lamb chops (pictured – ¥1,580), served on a bed of ratatouille and mashed potatoes were simply divine. Each dish on the menu has been chosen to pair with a particular wine, and with two sommeliers on hand at all times, diners can always call on an expert for more advice. Lunchtimes at Vinoir are already getting busy with local office workers, and though the word on Minato-ku’s latest restaurant is only just getting out, for evenings and weekends be prepared to book ahead.

Price: Lunch from ¥980, Dinner ¥480 – ¥1980.

Best feature: Wall of wine with 600 bottles.

Official site: www.vinoir.jp

Tel: 03-6804-5568

Address: B1, 1-15-19 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0062.

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