Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: at-Sweet - RIP

Edit - @Sweet seems to have closed its doors as of early July.


I'll come right out and say that I had fun at @Sweet and hope that more people visit there. But, that I'm a little selfish and would rather keep the place to myself. To be honest, they're on the third floor of the maid-themed UFO Catcher arcade at Kandamyojin Dori, one block west of Chuu-ou Dori.

@Sweet just opened a couple of weeks ago, and it's still trying to build up a clientele. Because of this, I was the only customer that Wednesday night. Normally, I'm hesitant to enter an empty restaurant, but I'm glad I did this time. The maids were more than willing to talk to me, and we spent the entire hour chatting and I got to hear a lot of free music.

The room is fairly wide, with a small stage in the center and the counter bar built in a "u" to face the stage. There's a small synthesizer in the middle, and one of the maids played and sang j-pop songs while taking requests from the rest of the staff. I'm not sure if they normally charge per song like cafe la en vie rose does, but it was free that night. The room is well-lit, and the tables are white formica, with seating for about 30 people. Don't remember if there were any posters or photos on the walls. I received the standard "welcome home master" greeting and was invited to sit at the counter, closest to the stage.

The lunch sets all run 1000 yen, and include a drink and salad, plus curry rice, spaghetti or hamburg steak. For dinner, the entrees are in the 800-1000 yen range, and are the same selection as for lunch but with the addition of omelet rice. The drinks are 500 yen, 700 for a cappuccino with something written on it in chocolate syrup, and 700 yen for floats (basically adding a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream to any one of the soft drinks). Sponge cakes are 500 yen. Maid photos are 500 yen, and you can play a game against the maid for 500 yen for a few minutes. I ordered a hot coffee, spaghetti with carbonara sauce and a maid photo. Even with the 600 yen cover, the total only came out to 2300 yen, which wasn't too bad. The coffee arrived in a small cup, with the sugar and cream on a separate tray. The spaghetti came out a little later. The serving wasn't all that large, but it was filling and the sauce was very good.

Normally, the maid photo is taken towards the end of the meal, when the maids have a break between bringing out orders. This time, though, the photo was taken almost immediately. My maid asked me what pose I wanted, and before I could ask for suggestions, offered the "heart pose with back to the camera" shot, which I liked. A little later, she returned with the embellished photo, asking if it was ok. My impression is that we could have taken another shot if this one wasn't good enough I was amused by the way she wrote the date and the name of the cafe, coming up with "sweet 16". She hadn't realized what she'd done, and then ran around telling the rest of the staff about "@sweet 16" (which may become some kind of event later on).

As we were talking, I suddenly found myself being given "presents", including an @sweet keychain, and name cards for the maids. I also received the points card and a flier explaining the system. The point cards are kind of similar to what @home uses, except with @home it's one point per visit, and you upgrade from bronze to silver status after 5 points. With @sweet, it's one point per visit, 1 per maid game and 1 per maid photo. 15 points takes you from pearl level to emerald (50 to sapphire, 100 to ruby, 500 to diamond and 999 to "legend"). With pearl, the cover charge is 600 yen, and it drops to 400 yen at emerald, then 300 at sapphire, 200 at ruby and then after that it's no cover. The presents for reaching each new level include free maid photos, post cards and the like, but the flier only describes up to ruby level and there's no mention of the card on the website.

There's also going to be a Christmas event from Dec. 19 to the 25th, including laminated cards and dessert specials, and I'll try going back this Saturday for that. I definitely had fun, and I think that maids kind of forgot that I was a customer because as I was leaving, they suddenly realized that they needed to give me the "please be careful" chant and to bow me out. I hope that they get a lot busier and start bringing in more customers soon. Just not while I'm there...

(Points card, Pearl.)

Name: @Sweet
Location: Kandamyojin Dori, about one block west of Chuu-ou Dori, above the maid-styled UFO Catcher shop, third floor.
Price: Moderate
Cover: 600 yen lets you stay 90 minutes.
Food: 1000 yen lunch sets (hamburg steak, curry rice, spaghetti); for dinner, entrees in the 800-1000 yen range include curry rice, omelet rice, spaghetti, and hamburg steak. Soft drinks are 500 yen, ice cream floats are 700 yen. No beer or mixed drinks on the menu.
"Love": Writing on the cappuccino and omelet rice. Standard greetings when you arrive and leave.
Outfits: No standardized uniforms. The website shows a black dress with white apron, but only one maid had that combination when I was there.
Photos: 500 yen.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: @Sweet is still very new, and I think it's trying to find its niche. At the moment, the focus is on singing and playing the synthesizer.
Recommendation: I had a blast here. The cover is bit higher than most other places that charge one, but the food prices are lower as a result. It was a slow night, so the staff spent all their time talking to me and taking song requests. The food was good, too. Definitely recommended.

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