Le Petit Tonneau is a small neighborhood bistro that wouldn't be out of place on a back street somewhere in Paris. The food is excellent - simple in concept but skillfully executed - and the wine list is well-chosen, reasonably priced and fairly extensive. Which makes it all the more surprising to find this place in the middle of Kudanshita, in an unassuming business district not otherwise known for its culinary offerings.
If you want to you can think of Le Petit Tonneau as a wine bar - there are more than twenty different wines by the glass, and a few dozen more by the bottle. Much of the list is devoted to wines from the Roussillon region in the southwest of France (next to Languedoc), wines not seen so often in Tokyo restaurants. The menu includes fairly detailed descriptions of each wine in Japanese, and the friendly, multi-lingual waiters are ready to offer suggestions if you ask. The restaurant imports the wines directly, which keeps the prices down - glasses average Y500-800, and most bottles are under Y6000.
The food menu is short and simple - bistro fare like confit of duck and lentil soup with sausage, plus a risotto, a spaghetti, and a homemade ravioli of the day. The duck confit is done to perfection (with very crisp skin and moist meat that falls away from the bone) and it's served with world-class fried potatoes (soft enough to melt in the mouth) and sauteed onions. There's a superb, down-home-style stewed lamb with white beans that goes very well with the excellent Cotes de Roussillon wine. Even something as simple as the endive salad is prepared lovingly, with bits of herbs and peppercorns, crisp bacon and good-quality walnuts.
If you're in the mood for something a bit fancier you can opt for the Special Menu of Phillippe Batton - it includes five signature dishes of Chef Batton (items like foie gras with daikon in an orange and five-spice sauce), plus dessert, and it's a relative bargain at Y8000. Otherwise, two courses (appetizer plus main) are Y3200, four courses are Y4300, and everything is available a la carte, including the chef's specials. A selection of calvados, brandy and eaux de vie is served after dinner, and the cheese platter is small but first-rate.
Tables here are rather closely packed, bistro-style (this isn't the place for a high-powered business dinner), and reservations are recommended.
by Bjorn Katz
This book will introduce you to more than twenty of Japan's favorite specialty foods that are less well known abroad, along with a guide to the best places in Tokyo to try them and expert tips on what to order. From Bento.com.