Davis has a cocoon-like patio out front with a family-sized table for warmer months. Inside there is a rural European feel. A group of chattering locals at the bar fell silent as we entered and their heads turned in unison to assess our unfamiliar faces. As more of the neighborhood arrived—unannounced but undoubtedly expected—friends shifted along to make space. (With two huge residential tower blocks going up around the corner, they’re about to get an influx of new neighbors, Graham Davis, husband of owner Shoko Davis, pointed out.)
Davis is designed for people who want to drink and eat as much as those who want to eat and drink. Graham and Shoko lived in Europe for five years, where they developed an interest in wine. They continue to travel when time allows, buying bottles for the restaurant along the way. They also work with small, innovative wine importers to garnish an interesting selection of bottles at every price level. As well as the weighty wine list, for example, there is a selection of specials (¥3,000-¥5,000) and a chalk-board of recommended aperitif and wines by the glass. After glasses of champagne (Lenoble Brut Intense, ¥1,260) and crisp Alsatian 2004 Domaine Jux Riesling (¥840), Shoko guided us to a bottle of 2002 Dashe Zinfandel (¥5,250).
We paired the white wine with lightly grilled yellowtail salad (¥1,575). The grilling gave the tasty sashimi a sharp edge, accented with finely chopped onions and green peppers in olive oil. Such simplicity was evident in all our dishes, such as tagliatelli with porcini mushrooms and pancetta (¥1,680). Shoko develops the European-style menu with the chef, Mr. Kobayashi, and they use seasonal ingredients and regional Japanese produce, such as oysters and pork.
It’s clear why Davis had such a loyal local following (and it’s not because once you’re in Takanawa there’s no way out). It’s smart but unpretentious, and without question excellent value. Predictions of its demise were premature, and we look forward to its next seven years with enthusiasm.