I've become a total lady who lunches. Being December lots of people want to get together, ring out the year in style so to speak, and of course we celebrated my birthday last week.
Everywhere I go I love to observe the decor. At Cafe KU ON this very modern birch tree arrangement was stunning.
Today I went to La Cipollina, another local Italian restaurant. The tree outside looked gorgeous though I didn't take a shot myself. It's a decorated olive tree (hinting at the Italian cuisine). According to their Facebook page it was decorated by a nearby florist/antique shop.
The local restaurants cater specifically to this crowd. It's reassuringly similar everywhere. Perhaps a little boringly predictable. There is always a recommended lunch course which goes for ¥1500 (for simplicity lets say that equals about US$15). That's considered affordable, every so often, among my crowd of friends.
There's always a starter, such as antipasto in an Italian restaurant or soup in a French restaurant. The main is usually pasta and there will be about three varieties to choose from. Or it might be a choice of fish of the day or some kind of meat dish. Or pizza. There's usually a bread basket too. Dessert comes next, a little slice of cake, some homemade icecream or gelato served with your preference of tea or coffee.
Service is crucial and has a high expectation placed on it. The staff must be very well-mannered, unobtrusive yet attentive. I find that Japanese people are quite fast eaters and don't like to be kept waiting between courses. There's a delicate balance between rushing the customer and being tardy. They are fully aware that kindergarten mothers have to leave to meet their children by early afternoon so you never need to make the awkward request of asking them to hurry things along.
I am quite critical of the ambiance of a restaurant. A place I went to not long ago felt quite staged, and cold. By contrast the sit-down pizza place around the corner just exuded atmosphere: friendly, hip and happening.
Do you have a favourite local hangout? What are the critical elements of a successful restaurant in your opinion? Is there such a culture of "ladies who lunch" and are they catered to in this specific manner where you live? How damaging is a bad review of a restaurant? Today my friends carried on a lively dialogue about the fact that the chef was new and reputedly better. Another place is routinely avoided due to a never-changing menu. The two places I have been to in the past week are booked solid everyday for lunch. Big business?
Here's a list of some of the places I have been to locally, should you also be a resident of my town.
Cafe KU ON
I'm all lunched out for now I think. Anyway the kids go to half days from tomorrow with their last day of term on Friday. Going out for lunch is not quite as much fun with kids in tow!
My heart goes out to the families in the US who were affected by the terrible shooting last week. So tragic.