Admittingly I was taken out by a nasty bug that knocked me for a day so I was on the mend when we went to Le Rigmarole for dinner. I had read about the spot and the reviews were tops. The restaurant opened in October of 2017 so now it has been open just about six months. Co-owners with deep roots in the restaurant world who are enamored with Japanese flavors and aesthetics. The physicality of the space is small, roughly 25-30 seats, simple in design, mono-toned and intimate.
You can order by the piece or opt for the 10-course chef’s choice (although they do ask what you do and don’t like). We asked how long the 10-course would take, and we were told two hours. They want to believe it will take two hours but it takes three. The calm serene feel is the vibe they are trying to get but the reality is that behind the scenes is frenetic. There is one woman who is the hostess, waitress, and sommelier. Then there are the two chefs behind the counter and from the look of it, there is one person in the tiny kitchen cleaning. The hostess can barely breath let alone find time to ask if you would like another glass of wine. When she did return with a new bottle in hand, she began to pour it and realized she had never uncorked the bottle. She either opted out or just couldn’t be bothered but protocol is you do not pour a new wine into a glass that you just drank out of with a different wine. I am surprised we got the correct dishes.
Everyone these days ask if you have any dislikes or allergies. I always mention garlic. I won’t die but anything overladen with garlic just slays me. She acknowledged it and said no worries. The first thing that comes out is three pickled vegetables to eat over the course of the meal. The intensity of garlic in each one went shooting up my nose. It was as if she was on auto-pilot preparing for the evening ahead. Barely focused but seemingly calm.
In the back of my mind, I kept thinking Rigmarole, is seriously rigamarole, aka a confusing lengthy process. Perhaps I wanted more from each of these dishes. Small and elegant yet I wanted more nuances of flavors vs the smoke from the char.
The fried spring onions were the first thing out and possibly my favorite. Light and airy with just a hint of Japanese spices. Chopped raw sea bream with basil and hints of ginger was divine. We could have eaten spoonfuls more of this dish. These were the highlights.
Charred sea bream with basil and fresh peas was well prepared but bland (forgot to photo that one). Chicken thighs were prepared with orange zest and chili flakes that gave this grilled plate more interest.
Zucchini with an anchovy mayo did nothing for me.
A bowl of steamed egg custard with bits of mushrooms definitely had some depth.
Butterflied chicken wings had no flavor except for the char of the grill.
Tiny cappelletti pasta stuffed with fresh peas and crushed almonds tossed with a nut pesto was a nice addition to the Yakitori dishes.
Tis the season for white asparagus grilled with watercress.
The last dish is a meatball served with paratha bread on the side. I would have rather seen more tempura throughout the meal. I found the spring onions to be the most interesting of the meal.
Dessert of grilled strawberries over cream and chocolate stuffed with crisp pralines with a praline ice cream was round 11 and after three hours in we had lost serious steam. Maybe it was the night, maybe it was the lengthy meal, maybe it was the lack of service but I wanted so much more.