Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review: Eine Burg

Yuurei Maid Cafe Eine Burg, like the name implies, has a German theme. But, unlike Schatzkiste a few blocks away, Eine Burg is an upscale restaurant in a haunted German castle setting. Heavy curtains hang from the ceiling and walls amidst the little chandeliers. The walls are lined with heavy oak woodwork, and the chairs and tables are also made of dark hardwood. Various classical pieces play in the background, including a few by Mozart. There are some special rules here, above and beyond the normal ones for maid cafes, including a request to keep your voice down to avoid disturbing "the others".

It was raining the night I visited, and rather cold, so I put my backpack, jacket and things on the other chair at the table and sat with my back to the wall. When the maid arrived to give me a glass of water, she placed an empty glass in front of the other chair, saying that it was for the one that should be there. The "yuurei" in the name means "spirits", and the stamp for the points card is a ghost, so there's something of an "occupied" vibe going on here. Along with the glass of water, I received a small plate of sweets and cookies to snack on. There's a small bell on the table that you're supposed to ring when you want to order your food.

The entrees are fancier than at most maid cafes, including an herb roasted chicken, a steak sandwich, and a special omelet (800 to 1000 yen). There's a wide range of teas on the menu, plus the regular soft drinks (500 to 600 yen), a few desserts (700 to 800 yen), and some cocktails, wine and beer. The prices are fairly reasonable. There is a 300 yen cover for 90 minutes, and photos with the maid of your choice for 500 yen. Even with the cover, the entree, ice coffee and maid photo came to only 2300 yen ($25).

I chose the herb chicken and a glass of ice coffee. The coffee came out first, and the maid poured the sugar and cream for me, and stirred it before returning to the kitchen. Pretty normal coffee. Later, the chicken came out, and I was asked what I wanted written on it in catsup. I decided to keep it simple and requested a heart. After drawing the heart, the maid spent the next minute writing out "Eine Burg" on the edge of the tray. The lighting in the room was too dark to take a photo and I didn't want to risk using the flash. The herbs included basil, among other things, and the chicken breast was very juicy and tender. The meal also included a small salad, boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, mixed vegetables and 3 pieces of bread with butter (you can get rice instead of the bread). The serving wasn't all that big, but it tasted very good and it was filling.

For the photo, the maid gave me the choice of standing or sitting in the chair, and just a simple "peace sign" pose. However, the camera ate the photo, so the other maid ended up putting a new film pack in the camera and took the shot a second time. The photo was then taken into the kitchen for embellishing. I like the little points of color she added to her own cheeks. That and the little ghosts at the bottom.

I arrived at 6 PM, so the evening was still young, plus with the rain there weren't many customers yet. Me, one other single guy, two women at another table, and a couple at the other end of the cafe. The two women seemed to know one of the maids, since they spent some time talking together. At one point, the lights were dimmed, and an announcement was made that the guy at the far table (one half of the couple) was celebrating his birthday. He received a cake with candles on it, and we all joined in singing "happy birthday". At the time, the customers were 50% female, and of the two other guys, the one in the couple looked like a businessman and the single guy was definitely an otaku. The maids were all very polite, but they were willing to stop at the tables and chat with everyone for a few minutes. None of them tried speaking English with me, and the menu was in Japanese only.

The points card is a bit unusual, too. Aside from having the ghost stamps and the German-style coat of arms on the front, there's no information on what you get for a full card. No details on the website, either. One point per visit, although I received 2 points that night, probably because it was a "rain night". There's a small selection of pins, laminated cards and postcards available for sale next to the cash register, so I'm assuming that a full card may get you a pin or something. If I go back, I'll ask for clarification.

When I got ready to leave, the maid bid me to be careful in the heavy rain, gave me the "please come back" chant, and walked me to the elevator, bowing as the doors closed. Overall, it was a fun experience, and in terms of elegance it ranked right up there with Cure Maid. Open from 5 to 10 PM week nights, 12 to 10 PM weekends.

Name: Eine Burg
Location: Tsumakoizaka, just short of Kuramaebashi, 3rd floor. Same building as Akiba Gakuen Year 2 class 1.
Price: Moderate.
Cover: 300 lets you stay 90 minutes.
Food: Fairly upscale selection of pastas, chicken and sandwiches, drinks and desserts. A separate tea menu is also available, if you like different kinds of teas.
"Love": Writing of your choice on the foods; maids prepare your coffee or tea for you at the table.
Outfits: When I was there, a white blouse with black skirt, and white ruffle hair band.
Photos: 500 yen with the maid of your choice.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: Haunted German hotel lobby cafe. Very Gothic, with heavy banners hanging from the ceiling and walls, oak woodwork, and classical music playing in the background. You're asked to keep your voice down to avoid breaking the mood.
Recommendation: This is a very elegant cafe, with an emphasis on good food and drinks, in a refined atmosphere, and at a reasonable price. Highly recommended.

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