Natsuke Shoji (her name means “summer child”, hence the restaurant‘s name, meaning summer in French) opened Été in Shibuya in 2016. Formerly sous chef at Florilege at the tender age of 21, where she worked for there years, Ms Shoji was still only 28 years at the date of my visit. Many restaurants in Japan are on a small scale with just a few diners, but Été takes this to the extreme with just a solitary table for up to four people. The chef is noted in particular for her cakes, which are inspired by her love of fashion, and have developed a cult following of their own. The restaurant won the Tabelog silver award in both 2017 and 2018.
The meal began with a nibble of sea urchin on a biscuit base, with an alternative of crab on the same base. The biscuit was delicate and both toppings were very well sourced (16/20). Brioche was made in the kitchen and came with smoked butter. It had good texture though a sweet bread like brioche is a slightly curious accompaniment to savour food (15/20). The next course was ayu or sweetfish that had been wrapped in feuille de brique pastry and served with a bowl of salsa. This was an unusual take on ayu, the pastry wrapping delicate, and the salsa with a genuine kick of spice and featuring very good tomatoes (16/20).
This was followed by abalone with baby clams. This had been simmered and sautéed in hazlenut oil with seaweed. Abalone is a tricky ingredient, often rubbery, but here it was delicate (16/20). After that was Amadei or tilefish that was served in a broth of matsutake mushrooms with hairy crab. The tilefish has crisp scales and was very carefully cooked, managing to retain its texture well despite resting in the broth. The mushrooms were just in season and had excellent flavour, the crab adding an extra flavour note (18/20).
Wagyu beef was A4 grade from Kumamoto prefecture in central Kyushu, a cut from the mid sirloin in UK terminology. This came with charcoal grilled aubergine and a garnish of autumn truffles. The beef was lovely, well marbled but not too fatty, the aubergine excellent and the gentle scent of truffles lifting the dish (18/20). A pescatarian alternative was the same garnishes but with sea eel instead of beef.
A pre-dessert of grape sorbet featured grapes from Nagano flavoured slightly with almonds. The sorbet had excellent texture and the grapes had deep flavour (17/20). The final dessert was her signature mango, which was beautifully presented amongst rose petals. The mango itself came from Shizuoka prefecture, the fruit carved into a flower shape and resting on a a bed of creme patisserie with sable biscuit. This was lovely, the mango having excellent flavour and the contrasting textures working well together. (18/20). The bill came to ¥42,000 for two including a bottle of champagne, which works out at £141 per person. Ms Shoji served the dishes herself, and was a charming host as well as speaking good English. This was a lovely meal in an intimate setting.