Slow French Food at Argent, Meguro
Argent is part of the long-standing European food movement known as slow food. Established in 1980, the sign above the door proclaims the restaurant's dedication to this style of cuisine. The result is truly wonderful dishes that stand the test of time...so much so that the menu hasn’t changed much in the last 30-odd years.
A mother and daughter team run the restaurant, the daughter having taken over the cooking duties when her mother retired to the front of house, seating, serving and looking after the clientele.
The menu for lunch is small and the family have conceded to the passing lunchtime crowd by having a set lunch as well as two or three of the fabled slow cooking staples everyday. The day I visited it was the raw tuna tartar Paris of Espirit, grilled dream of scallops salad, and a French onion soup featured on the à la carte menu, while the set offered a main, vegetable soup, bread and coffee or tea.
Knowing of Argent’s reputation for its house specialities, our group ordered the scallops and the tuna tartar. Both of these dishes were on the original slow food menu in 1980, and we wondered if they would be as delicious and approachable in this era as they had been then. Fortunately, they had lost nothing of their originality or wonderful, intense flavors.
The tuna is served with toast and has a fresh, light taste. It would work well as a starter or as a main. As for the grilled dream of scallops salad, it was sensational. Indeed a perfect light summer lunch dish. The generous serving of seared scallops on top of a seasonal salad was accompanied with just a hint of a citrus dressing.
There are even more dishes from the historic menu items available at dinner. Country style pâté, the restaurant’s own rare cheesecake—a soft ball of delicious cheese—and the fruit flan, which is in reality a magnificent fig flan, are sadly now only available in the evening.
And so why the name Argent? Beautiful silver ornaments and glass cabinets full of silver collectables are scattered about the restaurant. Take a peek next door when you arrive and it becomes clear. The patriarch of the family owns and operates a silver shop which is a real Aladdin’s cave, packed with silver pieces. Two creative industries, the restaurant and the silver shop, are located side by side.
A good selection of wine is available at Argent, but you are also welcome to bring your own bottle and pay a reasonable corkage fee (per glass used in this case). The restaurant also welcomes large groups and has a private dining room that seats eight people.
Address: 1-25-12 Nakamachi, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon–Sat, 12–2 p.m. for lunch, 6–11 p.m. for dinner