bills: Selling like hotcakes in Harajuku
Sydney restaurateur and chef Bill Granger’s fluffy scrambled eggs (¥1,200) have won plaudits from Bondi to Broadway, though his purposeful lowercase spelling and lack of apostrophe might drive editors bananas. Better to focus on his banana hotcakes (¥1,400), that are captivating diners at his new venue smack in the middle of Harajuku.
Tokyo’s best or not, they’re certainly a contender. Airy yet substantial, the fun in the signature banana and ricotta hotcakes is biting into a surprise pocket of soft cheese. Honeycomb butter adds a touch of sweetness but stops short of being cloying. For a healthier breakfast, try the Bircher muesli (¥700) with apple, strawberry and almonds [see feature for more breakfasts].
Commanding the top floor of the new Tokyu Plaza, the latest bills incarnation is spacious, bright and cheery, a welcome respite from the adolescent madness below. Granger’s brunch classics, most large enough to share, are served throughout late afternoon. A colorful mix of green, yellow and red, the sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon (¥1,400) were let down by oiliness, but an elderflower cordial soda (¥700) kept the grease in check.
Apart from frappés, juices and smoothies (around ¥700), Antipodeans will be charmed by the flat white (¥600) on the coffee menu—worth its price.
Lunch choices are spare but substantial. The exception is the wagyu burger (¥2,000) with zucchini pickles, fresh tomato and herbed French fries, which my companion views as aimed at ladies in need of an iron fix. Better luck for the ravenous is the BLT (¥1,300), also with fries. Straightforward—as are most of Granger’s dishes—the sourdough bread lends a weighty bite while mustard aioli provides a tangy balance.
Granger might have stoked his reputation as the brunch king, but those looking for “Australian” creative café fare should visit in the evening. Though the lentil and labne cheese fattoush (¥1,200) is a fine veggie dish, bills mainly targets those with a pescetarian penchant. The fish carpaccio salad with grapefruit, radish and dried capers (¥1,200) is an inspired warm-weather choice, and well-paired with one of many Australian wines on offer, such as the Wynns Coonawarra 2010 Riesling (¥800 per glass) or the crisp and bracing Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc (¥1,000).
Others might be swayed by the swordfish with a spicy capsicum sauce (¥2,000), or grilled pork with corn salsa (¥1,800), and sides such as garlic mashed potato, and sautéed greens (¥500).
For dessert, bills’ shareable pavlova (¥800), topped with passionfruit and fresh cream, is a sunny salute to the southern isles.