Zato Trading Co. has made a name for itself by introducing locals to the pleasures of German-style partying. At several venues across town—including Stein Haus in Shinjuku, German Farm Grill in Shibuya, and a handful of bar-restaurants under the Franziskaner name—Zato serves authentic beers, wines and cuisine.
We’re big fans of all these pubs, but the newest venue, in Roppongi Hills, is the slickest of the bunch. This has less to do with the drinks menu—which is nearly identical to its sister pubs—than with the setting, ambience and cuisine.
Situated at one end of the Roppongi Hills complex, the bar has a patio that’s so spacious you’d have to shout to be heard at neighboring tables. (And during our visit, that’s exactly what one quaffed-up salaryman was doing, regaling the staff with his drunken wit.) This prime people-watching spot attracts a mixed crowd of expats, tourists and workers from nearby offices. Pride of place in the elegant interior goes to a quattrocento-style wall painting that depicts the seven archangels; it’s described as an “homage to Germany.”
You could say the same about the beer menu, which features most major styles, including pilsner (Veltins; ¥980), maibock (Spaten; ¥800-¥1,300 on tap) and dunkel (Flensburger; ¥980). As far as we’re concerned, though, there’s little reason to venture beyond the Franziskaner Heffe-Weiss, a complex brew tasting of citrus, yeast and cloves. The wheat beer is available both on tap (¥1,380/500ml) and bottled (¥1,200/500ml).
But what truly sets Franziskaner Bar & Grill Roppongi Hills apart is the food. Sure, there’s standard German fare, like housemade pretzels (¥500), sausages (from ¥980), schnitzel (¥1,890) and eisbein (¥3,980). But to wash down the likes of blood-sausage tarts (¥900) and chestnut-foie gras crepes (¥2,000) with such fine German brew is taking the European party scene to scintillating new levels.