Where I’m from, barbecue philosophy goes like this: “Throw another prawn on the barbie, mate.” At Absinthe Solaar, there’s a little more style in the sizzle.
Every night of the week on the eighth floor of Namba’s Takashimaya building, Absinthe Solaar’s rooftop beer garden offers outdoor barbecue of a more gourmet bent than ever was found in my humble Aussie backyard.
You won’t find charcoaled chops or sausages in bread and ketchup. Instead, you get plate after plate of delectable appetizers resembling something of a Greek meze table. The Mediterranean slant is no accident – owners Miho and Dmitri spent about four years working together in restaurants in Israel. The eclectic mix of starters is likely to include a smattering of salads with chickpea, couscous, potato and egg bases, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, olives, dips, pita bread and a selection of lightly cooked meats.
Attentive beer garden staff will then begin delivering barbecued delights to your table. There’s a lamb kebab with more herbs than you can poke your tongs at and a giant metal skewer with a mouth-watering assembly of squid, scallops, shrimp, beef, chicken, pork and vegetables. The deal is all-you-can-eat for two hours. You’ll have plenty of grilled morsels to keep you busy and the chef will be outside with you, sizzling the skewers.
The ¥5,000 price tag includes all-you-can-drink beer, chuhai, juice, spirits, wine and even sangria. Make sure the staff have loaded the kegs and you’ll be ready to go with the self-service drinks bar. You can mix your own beverages to your heart’s desire.
A meze table is traditionally a casual, warm and inviting place to gather and share communal plates and spirited conversation at a leisurely pace. Outdoors and eight levels high above Namba’s swirling street buzz, an assortment of long, thin wooden tables and round steel ones among the garden’s small trees and neat green grass creates a cosy atmosphere conducive to exactly this. The area is tastefully lit by candles, lanterns and fairy lights.
The beer garden seats up to 40 people, but it’s wise to book at least a day in advance. And if the weather doesn’t cooperate, there are back-up options indoors.
Absinthe Solaar • Where: 8F Namba Dining Maison (Takashimaya Dept Store) • 5-1-18 Namba, Chuo-Ku, Osaka • Access: Subway Midosuji Line • Barbecue Course: Available every day 5pm–11pm (L.O. 9pm) • Tel: 06-6633-1445 or 090-1072-3691 • Price: ¥5,000 – All you can eat and drink (two hours) • Coupons: www.gnavi.co.jp/en for discount coupons