Lovers of Gallic food in Tokyo’s Ginza can now choose between tasty twin restaurants – but don’t expect identical experiences. These two seductive sisters are similar but distinctly different – one’s blonde, the other’s dark, one is formal, the other more relaxed, but both share common dining DNA.
Established French fine-diner Esquisse has been joined by its new offshoot Argile, just two storeys down in the same Ginza building, which offers a far more casual vibe. The chef in charge of Argile’s kitchen is Teruki Murashima, who worked for years under Lionel Beccat at Esquisse, so there’s an overlap in terms of ingredients and philosophy, while the decor is starkly diverse.
Elegant Esquisse is all about light, neutral, airy interiors, with a palette of white walls, tan armchairs, cream tablecloths, pale floorboards and soft lighting (tall potted plants add to the natural feel). Attitudey Argile works an earthy, nocturnal mood, with dark wood tables and chairs, matte textured walls, an indoor forest of spindly tree trunks and suspended chunks of driftwood, all dimly illuminated.
While Esquisse offers a chef-selected spontaneous dinner menu of four or five artistically plated dishes with champers, with combinations and prices pared back at lunch, Argile is more affordable than its upscale twin. It’s a secretive cocoon for intimate lunches (think three or five courses, with creative mains including aged venison or alfonsino fish, topped and tailed with tidbits) or enjoy à la carte dinner, which kicks off with nibbles and bubbly at the bar. Twin temptations indeed!
Esquisse / 9/F / Royal Crystal Ginza / 5-4-6 Ginza / Chuo-ku / +81 3 5537 5580 / lunch & dinner Mon-Sat / esquissetokyo.com
Argile / 7/F / +81 3 3575 5115 / lunch & dinner Thu-Tue / argiletokyo.com