A few more photos of Beard, the excellent – and memorably named – little modern bistro/wine bar I introduced in my Japan Times column today. It's a great little place, and if I lived in the neighbourhood it would definitely be one of my default evening hangouts/Sunday brunch venues.
One nugget that never made it into print: originally, Harakawa-san was going to call his place Commons (from "common sense"), but changed his mind – I think it clashed with some other restaurant, not to mention the idea of Creative Commons: plus there was the the new 246 Common. Anyway, he told me he's had his beard for 15 years now, and it's *his look*. And as I wrote, it all makes sense once you've actually been there.
Beard. What sort of name is that for a restaurant, least of all one serving French-inflected food? And what chef would have the word daubed in orange paint across his front door, on the diagonal no less?
One with a quirky sense of humor, of course. And, obviously, one who sports facial hair.
Formerly a nondescript clothing store, it has been given a total makeover inside and out, with wood pillars rising to a high ceiling, a handsome back wall of red brick and some seriously eclectic decor. The trophy deer's head over the entrance to the restroom – or Pipi Room as the sign, also in orange paint, proclaims – is nothing compared with what you find on the other side of that same door.
Every Sunday morning, Harakawa comes in to cook one of the tastiest little brunch menus in town.
He roasts and blends his own granola.
He also whips up tasty mascarpone-based sourdough pancakes, which he serves with butter, a small pot of maple syrup and fresh fruit on the side.
For those with proper appetites, look no further than his superb open-faced piperade sandwich: He slices open a hearty bread roll and spreads it with a generous layer of the seared, marinated Mediterranean vegetables; on top of this he balances a thick slice of his excellent home-cured bacon and an egg fried sunny-side up, serving it with a small side salad and a garnish of basil leaves. It's outstanding.
Harakawa says Beard is "the kind of French bistro you'd find in North America, but transplanted to Naka-Meguro." It makes sense once you have met him and eaten his food.
Beard sits on its own in a quiet residential area close by the Meguro River but a considerable walk from the nearest main street and even further from the buzzy bright lights of Naka-Meguro.
It's as if he is aiming to create his own neighborhood where one does not yet exist. Who knows, that might happen. Harakawa has certainly put together the kind of easy-going, welcoming local bistro hangout that most people would love to have close by their homes.
Just in case, here's the Beard web site…