Working at an office in downtown Tokyo comes with a plethora of perks, especially when it comes to food. Since Metropolis is located in Roppongi, I am blessed with a never-ending list of eateries to try. Bistro Vino is one of those places that was on my radar, but I never seemed to find the right time to visit. Until now. In keeping with my new year’s resolution “Eat first, then judge,” I decided to take the plunge and finally dine at Bistro Vino. Formerly known as Roti, the grill-joint-turned-classy-bistro specializes in top-quality wines imported from vineyards from all over the world. In fact, diners can take a peek at the extensively diverse wine rack tucked into the corner of the restaurant. This, I felt, was part of what made Bistro Vino — its dedication to provide luxurious wines in a humble, unpretentious setting.
From its chic interior design to menu selection, Bistro Vino exudes an aura of laid-back sophistication. Seated at a cosy table by the window, guests can sample an assortment of wines, either by the glass (¥780), the bottle (at market price) or as a flight. For ¥1,380 the bistro offers three wines (50ml each), perfect for those who want to expand their palate or don’t know what to choose. Some of my favorites from the lineup include “Bread & Butter” — a soft, mellow white chardonnay with an unsurprisingly buttery taste and “Alias” — a medium-bodied Californian cabernet sauvignon with a rich, oaky undertone and a hint of raspberry. Overall, the wine flights are a great way to sample premium wines at an affordable price. You’ll find most of the wine here incredibly affordable, as the bistro allows you to buy your bottle and simply pay corkage to enjoy it in house. In the words of my notorious beer-loving companion that night, “Wait, this is amazing. Have I just been drinking terrible wine all this time?”
Once our glasses were filled and a gentle buzz had settled in, we ordered a plate of smoked salmon (¥980) as recommended by the co-owner of the bistro. Unlike regular smoked salmon which is prepared in thin slices, the salmon at Bistro Vino was anything but lackluster: the slab of fillet, smoked and cured daily for three hours before opening hours, is thick, juicy and firm to the touch. On the side is a dollop of fresh dill cream sauce which cuts through the aromatic fish.
The owner also recommended we try the popular crispy tater tots (¥680), which admittedly I thought was a bizarre menu item for a wine bistro. But don’t let this fool you — the appetizer placed on our table was not your average school cafeteria tater tots with excessive breading drenched in grease; Bistro Vino takes its tot game very seriously, light and crunchy to the bite. The best part about the bistro’s tater tots lies in their secret menu, from which diners can choose to spruce up their snack with freshly shaved parmesan and truffle oil. A duo that packs a punch, the tater tots are the perfect snack for the classy adult who’s still a child at heart.
Other items on our table included the paddock beer braised lamb shank (¥2,480) — a meaty dish that melts into the tangy gravy and falls off the bone (as quality meat should) and grilled makomo (¥480). Makomo (or makomotake) is a stocky, wetland bamboo vegetable commonly found in traditional Chinese and Japanese cuisine. When cooked, the texture and taste is reminiscent of grilled corn on the cob. While some grocery stores have begun to stock makomo in their specialities corner, it is a rare ingredient to come by, especially at a bistro.
Ultimately, what you see at Bistro Vino is not necessarily what you get. While I went in to the restaurant expecting couples and businessmen conducting dinner meetings in the backdrop of a classy lounge, in reality, the eatery is also casual enough for families with small children. The bistro revels in this curated casualness which balances the sophistication of fine wine with playful dishes such as posh tater tots. It doesn’t matter if you’re a world class sommelier or a new wine-drinker, at Bistro Vino it’s all about taking that first sip.
The bistro offers a burger and sandwich menu for lunch and a weekend champagne brunch menu, as well. The cherry on top — you can order your wine for home delivery. What more could you want?
Bistro Vino Roppongi
Open: Mon-Thu 11am – 4pm (Lunch), 4pm – 12am
Fri 11am – 4pm (Lunch), 4pm – 1am
Sat 10am – 4pm (Brunch), 4pm – 1am
Sun 10am – 5pm (Brunch), 5pm – 11pm
Piramide Bldg. 1F, 6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku