Aux Bacchanales: A Magic Formula for Modern French Cuisine

By Bonnie Waycott
April 15, 2016
Food & Drink

Facing Shimizudani Park near Akasaka Mitsuke and Nagatacho stations is a stylish brasserie filled with French esprit. Tokyo's French dining becomes extra special at Aux Bacchanales, where you can take your time appreciating the natural beauty of the surrounding trees while enjoying a delightful range of French cuisine. There's a whole lot of fine dining in Tokyo, and the dishes at Aux Bacchanales certainly seem to be at that level.

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Situated next to the New Otani Hotel in Kioicho, Aux Bacchanales is a French open café that seems to be three different things at once: a bakery selling bread and cakes, a café that manages to look quintessentially European, and a welcoming, picturesque restaurant where the menu changes each day and you can choose one of many dishes from a blackboard. There are plenty of indoor seats, but the open terrace is also highly recommended, especially when the weather is nice and you can savor the feeling of being outside and enjoy the surrounding foliage. It’s especially beautiful around April when the flowers are in full bloom, and it doubles as the perfect party venue for any occasion, with branches in Akasaka, Ginza and Takanawa as well.

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A warm, cosy interior, cake cabinet and bottles of wine on display welcome customers as they arrive. The restaurant’s dining area—dark wood and signature wine red color on the seats of the chairs, not to mention a bar and a number of rooms making the place look huge—is an intimate showcase for its warm and simple style. It’s a spacious establishment with quaintly elegant surroundings and bright lights that add a friendly, cheerful atmosphere as you walk through the door.

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Aux Bacchanales offers a casual atmosphere for a relaxing cup of coffee, whereas the restaurant is available for home-style French cuisine to be enjoyed with family, friends, partners or colleagues. The cakes and bread seem to be authentically European, while the salads and sandwiches are especially popular menu items. I started with a tomato salad, a hearty and tasty dish served with three slices of crusty French bread (¥800), followed by one of the main courses of the day, salmon with green beans and lentils bathed in a heavenly creamy mustard sauce (¥950). Lettuce leaves added a slightly classy and decorative feel to the salad, while the taste of herbs and vinegar in the dressing was very light and fresh. The salmon, with no bones or skin, seemed to melt in the mouth, while the lentils blended in well with the mustard sauce and gave off a hint of something spicy like paprika. The green beans were slightly crunchy but cooked just right. There’s lightness to the cuisine here, so that it won’t leave you stuffed even after a few slices of French bread (extra bread is free), and it bursts with distinct flavors. Lots of ingredients prepared in different ways come together for a singular and enjoyable eating experience. The steak frites is also one of the more popular choices on the menu, and although the wine list is slightly limited, it’s good quality and value. If you’re looking for simple, classic cooking devoid of fancy experimental techniques, Aux Bacchanales may be a good choice.

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Having seen the cake cabinet on my way in, I wasn’t going to pass up on dessert, so I ordered coffee (¥500) and lemon pie (¥650). This sunshine sweet, springtime pie was light, tender, not too sweet and not too tangy, the perfect accompaniment to coffee, with a fresh zesty lemon curd topped off with a slight hint of sweetness. The gentle sublime taste was just divine. Dessert and coffee are not included in the ¥950 lunch menu price, but are highly recommended to end a delicious meal.

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Aux Bacchanales has been serving French bistro and café cuisine in Tokyo for many years. Whether it’s for a special occasion or just a chance to enjoy a comfortable, relaxing ambience and delightful cuisine, you’ll want to put this charming place on your list.

The Deets

Address: 1F Shin Kioicho Bldg., 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-5276-3422

Open: Mon–Sat, 10 a.m.–11 p.m. (last order 10:30 p.m.); Sun and hols, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. (last order 9:30 p.m.); lunch is served Mon–Sat, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

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