Saturday, January 15, 2011

Trattoria Sette  タラトリアセッテ

There are very few hotels with really decent restaurants - the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kyoto has not one, but two. I have eaten at both on several occasions and I swear the food gets better each time. 

However, before I prattle on about the food I would like to highly recommend the hotel itself  - and no I am not getting a kickback - it is just seriously gorgeous. Yet another Kyoto oasis.  Super comfortable, beautifully appointed rooms with a contemporary Japanese feel. The padded bedheads are covered in panels of kimono fabric, there are deep wooden soaking tubs in some of the slate bathrooms (with heated floors) and the remaining furnishings are more western style "cool-smart-casual".  

The entire revamp of the existing hotel is due to the highly talented Super Potato design group and they didn't miss a trick - from the stunning foyer that appears to be encased in a giant, golden origami structure to the, dare I say, "sexy" chapel, from the walls covered in textured and sculptured handmade paper to the exquisite Japanese restaurant Touzan full of glowing honeyed blonde wood furniture and subdued lighting which automatically leads your eyes to rest on the view of the zen rock garden. 

The adjacent bar is stunning.  Walls constructed from old books,  subtle, witty sculptures of ancient tools and discarded utensils and secluded areas for more private conversation. The glass room dividers in both the bar and restaurant contain a visually clever  display of bells, ceramics, tiles, and other interesting bits of antique Japanese bric-a-brac which should probably belong in a museum.  Another excellent feature of the bar is "happy hour" not so common in Japan. 

While I am on a roll - "the Grill" does a mean breakfast buffet with ham cut from the bone and grilled to order over an open flame - nice and smoky. And desserts in the evening are almost worth skipping dinner for. 

But let me get back to Trattoria Sette - the best Italian food I have eaten in Kyoto ( I try to eat Japanese as much as possible but sometimes you just need a change.... and some cheese!!)

Below Mayumi, Kikuko and Myong Hee peruse the menu but in fact, I am placed in charge of the ordering.... 
An amuse bouche of "Italian ham" is placed on our tables as is a plate of bread including excellent foccacia and grizzini. 
 Light and luscious antipasti above and a caprese salad below with the sweetest little tomatoes and top notch  bocconcini - more like super creamy mini burrata. 
Calamari fritti
Light as air gnocchi with sinful quattro forgmaggio sauce
damn fine pizza
Seriously divine radicchio and red wine risotto with scallops - I would go back just for a plate of this
Crisp skinned, moist fleshed grilled chicken with lemon and veal with mushrooms in the background
The ladeez
downstairs in the grill for the sweet stuff and coffee. Rich chocolate tart with caramel sauce and rockin' raspberry ice cream.  

Apparently they have a great lunch deal at Trattoria Sette  - but even at full price our meal with wine and aqua minerale came to under Y5000  per head. 

TIP: If you avoid spring (march/april) and autumn (october/november) there are also usually really good deals on rooms at the hotel. In peak tourist season it can be pretty exxy.  

Oh, and I cannot finish up without a shout out to the "Riraku" Spa (quickly say riraku-sing..??? love it! ).  Great massage, facial etc - you just can't go past a foot rub in an aromatic wooden tub filled with warm water and sake (to heat your body) while fingers dressed in silk worm cocoons rub off any dry patches. I guess silk worm cocoons could be a little controversial but I am sure the worms gave up their homes willingly?

AND AND AND.... the gift shop has a very fine collection of unique and gorgeous Kyoto products - but a warning - it is impossible to leave without purchasing something glorious!

I just love this place!! can you tell??

So go there, whether it is to eat, drink or simply just take a look around. It is right by Sanjusangendo so if you are in the neighbourhood drop in for a coffee and a brown sugar meringue filled with salted caramel whipped cream from the patisserie attached to Trattoria Sette....  

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