Thursday, January 21, 2010

Le Cafe du Coin, Kanda

Full of odd contrivances, but I liked this place quite a bit. I think if you're in the area it's a good lunch; at night it could be good and would certainly be cheap. Foodologically, they concentrate on simple bistro dishes, and winistically, the focus is on les biodynamiques (shizenba?) at normal prices. The coffee is excellent, as is the reading material (if you're into architecture).

This seems to be an outgrowth of an architecture firm called Protohouse.  The walls are lined with books that I now think offer pictures of houses they've built, which make for pretty good reading, being as they're all modern Japanese stylish minimalist designs (as opposed to the dominant style of new houses in Japan, which I would characterize as earthquake-resistant, soul-less, style-free imitations of mediocre Western forms). What a low-end French cafe has to do with showing off their wares, I don't know. I do know that the original concept for the cafe, as shown on the web, was bright, modern and clean. It still has a lot of those touches (angular furniture, wooly covers on some chairs) but has dilluted that with bistro references (3 classic French marble cafe tables et ses chairs de wicker, various French-themed nicknacks). Not in a bad way, but I think it would be better if they were true to their intention. Still, who knows what the intention was here.

The lunch menu focuses on quiche. Or toasted sandwiches. The 3-variety quiche set (half a slice X 3 varieties) seemed like pretty good value, coming as it did with medium-thin wedges of potato-cheese, sausage-spinach, and...errr...ham?, a bit of baguette, side salad, and scoops of grated carrot and cous cous with olives. Cheerful stuff. Warm. A bit stodgy, actually.

The lunch menu also includes a coffee, which was Lavazza if judged by its cup, and the quality gave me no cause to doubt its provenance. It was certainly ground, packed and brewed just before serving, and this resulted in an espresso with a lovely thick, dark crema and x-treme flavour. Were you to go to a specialty shop (I'm thinking of Illy here), you might not get the coffee included with the lunch, and might have to pay Y400+ for it. While it would be so much better than Staba, that still bites deeply into one's sensibilities. LCdC is an excellent compromise, plus quiet, hip and relaxed.

It's a nice place. I dunno if you'd want to live there.

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