Liberte replaces the old 'Azabu Haus' restaurant (which closed I'm not sure how many years ago) in the same high-concept concrete and glass building, tucked away in a back alley in Azabu Juban.
Chef Takeda's concept is rustic French cooking, with ingredients chosen according to the season. Not too many rules, but of course (I'm assuming) that it should impress. Although the style is French, it's clear the heart is Japanese.
I give the presentation, ambience and service top marks. Some of the food is excellent in concept and execution. Some of it missed the mark for me (mainly because I felt that there could be more attention on the stock and the impact of the flavour on some of the dishes), but this might just be a personal preference. The quality of the cooking and produce is unquestionable. Dinner for two with the cheapest Chablis on the menu (but augmented with some seasonal white truffle) came out north of 60,000 yen, so I suspect that I was more than usually sensitive to the impact on my tastebuds.
The table settings, glassware and cutlery are beautiful
Some Henriot to start (that is a really small glass, but cute)
A pre-amuse of hozuki
Followed by the real amuse of fish with apple (and some pork terrine on a little cracker in the background)
The square bread comes with not butter but a tofu spread
The sweet chestnut mousse was the dish that my dining partner and I enjoyed the most (if a little too sweet, I thought)
Unagi (eel) with lardons (had a rather 'puri puri' or springy consistency which I found interesting)
Orange mousse and beetroot-paved raw squid. I thought the mousse lacked flavour but the squid was OK with the sweetness of the beetroot.
Some amazing smelling truffles were brought to the table. Who would refuse?
Hiding under the avalanche of truffle is a medley of seasonal mushroom with a chunk of abalone (I found I couldn't really taste the truffles though and the dashi smelt a bit of ammonia and also also not so much flavour so I will a little disappointed with this one)
This is a hunk of fugu (I lived to tell the tale). This was meaty and yummy. The dashi was a little on the strong side, but forgivable. The precious matsutake mushrooms were delicious.
Cards on the table - I don't really like the taste of pigeon, so I would have preferred not to have been served this. But if you like pigeon, this would be a nice one.
Dessert of pear with red wine jelly and blue cheese ice-cream (not too strong, mind you!). I liked this combo.
Some petit fours to finish off.