Artichaut is probably just the right size of restaurant to allow one to enjoy the benefit of the personal touch. This establishment, located in Ebisu just up the street from Marche aux Puces, is a delightful modern French restaurant serving an altogether more refined cuisine, which is not at all to downgrade in any way Marche's hearty bistro food. I had an opportunity to sample the fare at Artichaut recently for Sunday lunch.
The menu offered was a 2,300 yen set which included a soup, entree, main and dessert. It is very good value for money especially if you are not tempted to order any of the dishes that require a supplement (I was and did). My only criticism on the value for money is the 1,500 yen I found on the bill at the end for the coupe de champagne. Is it just me or is that expensive when you consider that it is more than half of the cost of the entire standard set?
All the food was refined yet assertive in its flavour. The soup was a potato potage with lardons which had been almost imperceptibly blended with wholemeal bread. I had ordered the foie gras (which was an extra 1,000 yen) for my entree and this came nicely pan fried on a fried croute with baby white asparagus. On the edge of the plate was a small dollop of rose confiture. This was like a tiny explosion of flower power which married very nicely with the grease of the foie gras. The main dish was a pan seared white fish served with vegetables. The picture tells part of the story (even if it does not do justice to the vibrant colours of the dish), but the cheese sauce which included a little pistou was delicious and went very well with the fish which was perfectly cooked. For dessert we were served a nutty nougat glace served with strawberry puree which topped off the meal very elegantly.
All in all, the service was good (the waiter was competent in English and French) and the food was excellent. I have just a couple of little gripes. I suspect that the dishes and glasses are being washed in a very strong smelling (to me at least) cleanser that smells of chlorine. I hate to say it but I could get strong hints of it in the water, in the foie gras and in the beans. There was also no napkin at all at the table so we had to eat "commando". I really wanted to tell them about it but to ruin a pleasant meal with criticism seemed a bit churlish. To tell or not to tell...?