Omotesando: French
Lauburu (Omotesando: French)
Open 6-11pm (LO 8:30). Closed Sundays.

Some restaurants are great for impressing clients or visiting in-laws, some are good for people-watching, and some are just right for a romantic dinner for two. Then there are places like Lauburu - maybe not so fancy, not so romantic, but dedicated to the art of serious eating.

Lauburu is specifically dedicated to the consumption of pork. From the brass pig's-foot door handles to the taxidermified inoshishi (wild boar) in the entryway, the rustic interior is brimming with porcine bric-a-brac. The chalkboard menu is loaded with cuts of pork we'd never heard of (at least not in French), and the center of attention is an open charcoal grill at the back of the dining room where much of the food is slow-cooked.

The food here is prepared simply - no rich, complicated sauces or sculptural statements on the plate, just good honest country cooking. Entrees run around Y4,000 each, pricey even for Aoyama, but portions are large - a hearty cassoulet and Andouille sausage with mashed potatoes made a very solid winter night's dinner for two. Our endive-Roquefort salad was simple but perfectly balanced - just a plateful of lightly dressed endive dotted with pungent bits of Roquefort cheese and thinly sliced apple.

On an earlier visit we enjoyed a large cote de porc with roast potatoes and an enormous pig's knuckle (jarret de porc en confit) accompanied by a good helping of stewed white beans (plus a tiny dish of cracked black pepper for seasoning). Other options include pig's foot, blood sausage and goose confit.

The all-French wine list is short but serviceable, with a dozen or so selections starting at around Y6,000 per bottle. Calvados, marc and armagnac are available after dinner. The cheese platter is mostly hard cheeses like mimolette rather than runny varieties, and desserts include excellent profiteroles, bathed in ample chocolate sauce, and nougat ice cream.

The decor is country farmhouse minimal - white walls and wooden beams - but that's okay, because you're here for the food. Billed as a French-Basque bistro, Lauburu has been in business since April 2002. Budget around Y11,000-13,000 for dinner with drinks.

Minato-ku, Minami-Aoyama 6-8-18.

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Venue listing from Bento.com5 Star Rating: highly recommended