Monday, November 07, 2005
Restaurant review: Afternoon Tea, Umeda
Afternoon Tea is a chain of rather posh (and rather overpriced!) bric-a-brac, but many of their shops have a wee cafe on site. I recently visited their cafe in Umeda Whitey Mall (number 77, although if you can understand that map you're doing better than me!), sort-of close to the main entrance to Higashi Umeda subway station. Sorry I can't be any more precise than that, but the Umeda subterranean shopping system is a nightmare to navigate!
At lunchtimes they have a pasta set, with optional cake: round about 1200 yen for pasta and tea or coffee, 1600 yen to add in a cake. The normal prices for pot service and a cake is round about 1400 yen, so the set is pretty good relative value-for-money. The menu has three pasta dishes to choose from; I chose a bacon and aubergine pasta, my wife chicken and vegetables; she chose tea, I coffee; she rare cheesecake, I a pink strawberry sponge cake. After a short wait (they are very popular at lunchtime amongst the female set; around thirty tables, mostly for two, and only three other men in the place) we got our table, and after a moderately long wait along came our food. I picked out the bacon (being a veggie in Japan means never being too proud to fish meat out of dishes) and got a few of the wife's vegetables in return. Everything was cooked extremely well, with the complex flavours that one would expect in the more upmarket of restaurants. That's one thing Japan is excellent for, food preparation; even in the cheapest of places, the food is usually flawlessly served. The pasta was accompanied by perhaps freshly shop-baked rolls of a vaguely Italian style topped with rock salt.
Tea and cake soon followed; my pink sponge was not as poisonously sweet as I had feared; instead a very subtle strawberry flavour with a generous quantity of real strawberries mixed into the icing. The cheesecake had the tart after-taste I really love, accented by the biscuit base. Tea was a standard good-quality Ceylon tea, and the coffee tasted as if it was from a proper professional Italian coffee maker, but not the most skilfully prepared, but still very, very drinkable.
If you visit outside lunchtimes, the Muscat green tea is strongly recommended for the lovely strong grape aroma, although the tea itself doesn't quite live up to the promise of the nose. The menu has correct English names of all the items. Watch out as sometimes the background music is a bit intrusively loud and twice has featured rather annoying experimental Jazz. All non-smoking, credit cards accepted.
|Value for Money:||★★★★☆|