ECN Hospitality has ushered a string of popular restaurants into the Tokyo culinary scene, including Aoyama’s Two Rooms and the Roppongi steakhouse Ruby Jack’s. Although, just over a decade ago, the company’s co-founders were top-level management at an international luxury hotel. “I was the restaurant manager, Eddie [Baffoe] the bar manager, Matthew [Crabbe] the chef,” says Nathan Smith, CEO and founding partner of ECN Hospitality, of their time at one of Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s signature restaurants. “All of our skill sets came together at Hyatt and during our tenure there we became friends.” Each eventually pursued new opportunities around the world under the Hyatt umbrella, but it didn’t take long for these close friends to join forces and found their own hospitality enterprise.
“With ECN we wanted to create an experience that you couldn’t find in a hotel. The freestanding restaurant model in Tokyo existed, but it was nothing like what you’d find in Sydney, London or New York City,” Smith explains. “With our skill sets and the people we know, we wanted to create something that was profound: restaurants with great design and interesting food concepts, enhancing our lives and the lives of the people that work with us, and then developing more of them.” Now, as the group celebrates its tenth anniversary next year, ECN continues to expand with new restaurants and ventures, establishing them as leaders in the market.
Septième is the most recent addition to this roster, a modernized French brasserie on the seventh floor of Nihombashi Takashimaya Department Store’s new annex. The name derives from both its location—septième is the French word for seventh—and Paris’ seventh arrondissement, a district marked by cultural landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées and Musée d’Orsay, an area considered the peak of Parisian sophistication. “There’s no real French brasserie in the Ginza and Nihombashi area,” says Crabbe, CEO and Chef Director of ECN. “With Takashimaya, which is such an old brand, in Nihombashi, which is one of the oldest precincts in Tokyo, it’s such a great opportunity to open an old-school French brasserie, but brought up to 2018.”
As soon as you step into Septième, you’ll immediately recognize the retro brasserie iconography, from the restaurant’s burgundy leather seating to its mosaic tiled floors. Though, there is an undeniable contemporary edge to the design, including the restaurant’s centerpiece, an impressive 5.5-meter-wide ceiling fan originally constructed for warehouses. Septième’s menu, stocked full of familiar French fare, follows a similar model. According to Crabbe, the restaurant has done a deep dive into the brasserie classics, from pate de campagne to escargot. However, it was immediately clear that steak frites was the restaurant’s signature dish, with nearly 50 percent of sales Septième’s opening week. Other favorites from the chef: “The Steak Tartar. You can’t beat it; it’s just incredible.”
Following the success of ECN’s other properties, Septième mixes its restaurant dining with seating on an outdoor terrace and a high-quality bar. Eddie Baffoe, CEO and founding partner of ECN, insists that Septième’s bar will fill a void in Nihombashi, an area where upscale drinking culture is often limited to the stiff environment of hotel bars. With high-quality drinks and friendly service, Baffoe plans to replicate the success of its bars in Aoyama and Roppongi, incorporating the same model into Septième’s new brasserie context. “I always say that we represent to customers their home away from home,” says Baffoe. “We respect our guests and give them special service.”
Nearly a month into operation, ECN’s founders say new customers are continuing to find their way to Takashimaya’s seventh floor. Septième’s brasserie chic has plenty to offer, whether you’re a Nihombashi shopper looking for somewhere to rest your feet and enjoy afternoon tea, a working professional looking to have drinks with a client and a terrace view, or a Francophile searching for the familiar tastes of Paris.
Septième Brasserie & Bar
7F Takashimaya Nihombashi Annex 2-5-1 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku
5-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station Yaesu North exit.
4-minute walk from Nihombashi Station B2 exit.
Lunch Mon – Fri, 11am – 2:30pm
Brunch (Weekends and Hols) 11am – 2:30pm
Afternoon Tea Daily, 3pm – 5pm
Dinner Daily, 6pm – 10pm
Bar Daily, 11am – 11pm