I am addicted to Ebisu. So many restaurants and so little time! Ricos Kitchen is the illicit offspring of Tim's New York, also in Ebisu and also serving excellent American cuisine, from where many of the staff defected. You can sense a similarity in the menus, but Ricos' wins hands down in terms of atmosphere - it feels more like you're a guest at a private party rather than a paying customer. A dark-wood ceiling, a glass fronted wine cellar, a fabulous mural and some radical ikebana are the backdrop to outstanding service. We never felt hurried; we were never left waiting.
The wine menu is exhaustive and well-priced (from ¥3500), and there is a good selection of wines by the glass. The food menu recently underwent a revamp - for the better. On a previous visit I found the dishes to be somewhat contrived and the portions stingy. The situation wasn't helped by the fact that I was sitting at the counter (urgh) by the door (urgh urgh), where it was cold and drafty.
No such complaints this time. Well inside, warm, comfortable, wine in hand, it seemed unfair to choose one thing from the now impressively large menu over another. The smaller Caesar salad (¥1100) was good, chunky and more than enough for two, but dishes such as grilled chicken and blue cheese crispy tortilla rolls with sweet chili sauce (¥1250), although beautifully presented, were not as flavorsome as they sounded. The chef seems to be trying to combine diverse tastes without the resulting melange being too brutal; I felt they could be a little more so.
For example, the scallop risotto with oyster sauce was disappointing (both in terms of taste and texture). That said, the grilled pepper tuna and eggplant steak with soy, lemon and sesame sauce was superb. The chocolate gateau might not be mischievous enough for some, but was delicious with caramel ice cream (¥600).
The reasonable grand total was a relief as there is so much on the menu I want to try, and the atmosphere is such that I could quite happily sit there all day doing so. That's lucky, because to best appreciate Ricos' food you need to take your time and concentrate hard, otherwise its subtle culinary combos could easily pass you by.