Thursday, December 31, 2009
Review: cafe la vie en rose
With cafe la vie en rose, I've finished off the building that MfactCAFE and Pondichery are all located in. Rose is on the third floor, and is the most relaxed of the 3 places, although it's also the more structured. The space is a little confined, with just enough room to hold 20 people at the dark wooden tables and chairs, and another 3 or 4 at the bar. The walls have a light pink wallpaper with little roses on them, and the place is fairly well-lit. Not a lot of posters or signs on the walls, and the daily special board was actually sitting propped up on the floor to one side.
When I arrived, the two maids talking to some of the customers looked like they really weren't expecting customers at that time. There were 3 guys sitting at the tables, and I was directed to the free table of my choice. One maid brought me a menu in Japanese, and a few minutes later the second maid replaced it with an English menu. They told me about the daily specials, and then one of the maids brought over a notebook for me to write in. It's apparently a personal project and not owned by the cafe itself, but there were some REALLY nice drawings in the notebook, plus a number of written pieces. I drew a small sketch and added a paragraph in English, making me the first person to put anything in English in the book.
Regarding the food, the focus seems to be on the lunch menu, with a variety of entrees and soft drinks. During the evening, the menu largely consists of mixed drinks and beer, but there are pasta and rice dishes in the 1000 yen range and you can choose from 4 or so different toppings for the pasta. Drawings in catsup or mayonnaise on top of the dish is an extra 150 yen. Soft drinks are 500 yen, or 300 as part of an entree or dessert order. The maid cappuccino (hot or cold) is 700 yen. The hot cappuccino consists of a small espresso with steamed milk, and a drawing of your choice on top of the froth in chocolate syrup. Desserts are mostly sponge cakes, in the 700-800 range. I ordered a hot maid cappuccino and a blueberry yogurt cake. Along with the 500 yen maid photo, the total came to 1850 yen. Fortunately, cafe la vie en rose doesn't have a cover charge.
The coffee came out first, as I was writing in the notebook. The maid drew a nice little cat face for me, and placed a stick of sugar on the plate before leaving. The cafe makes a point of enforcing the "no camera" rule, so I didn't even bother asking if I could take a photo of the food. Wouldn't have mattered though, because by the time I could have gotten the camera out, the chocolate had blended into the foam and the cat didn't look so good anymore. I added the sugar, stirred the coffee, and the entire mix tasted pretty good. I just wish it had been served in a bigger cup for the price. Then the cake came out. It was a small slice with plain sponge cake on the bottom, and layers of blueberry yogurt, plain jello and blueberry jello on top. It tasted ok, but again, it was kind of over priced for what you got.
Two of the three guys left pretty quickly, but were then replaced by 4 others about 15 minutes later. The customers were all male, mostly dressed in the standard black "salaryman" suit jacket with white shirt and tie. One of them seemed to know one of the maids, since he brought her some KFC for dinner. The maids were all wearing dark green dresses with white aprons, but it was a mix of summer knee-length skirts and winter ankle-length full dresses. The women were all pretty casual, joking with each other as they worked, one of them calling another "nee-san" (older sister) all the time.
The main attraction for this cafe is the electric piano sitting next to the door. For 1000 yen, you can ask one of the maids to play or sing for several minutes. At one point, when it was just me and one other customer in the cafe, one of the maids sat down at the piano and began playing several fairly complex classical pieces. Then she switched to a j-pop song that she also sang along with. She was really good for the classical music, but struggled when having to play the j-pop song with just her left hand and holding the sheet music in her right. Later, she brought over the camera for taking the maid photo. Here, 500 yen just gets you a photo of the maid. She posed at the piano for me and I ended up taking the shot (usually, with maid photos, the customer is in the photo with the maid and another maid handles the camera) giving me a little more control over how it turned out. A few minutes later, she returned with the customized photo, complete with "egg-chan" in the corner.
There is a points card. 1 point per 1000 yen (1 point per 500 yen for female customers), plus one point if you leave within 60 minutes, and 1 more point if it is raining outside (AKA: "a rain day"). 30 points gives you a standard maid photo, with you included in the shot.
When I was done, my maid walked me to the elevator, and bowed until the doors closed. Overall, I had fun. cafe la vie en rose is a little pricey, but it's a fun place, and if someone else pays for a song, you get to listen to it for free. Definitely worth the visit.
Name: cafe la vie en rose
Location: 3 blocks west of Akihabara JR station past Chuu-ou Dori, in the same building as Pondichery and MfactCAFE, on the third floor.
Price: Moderately high. Prices make up for the lack of a cover charge.
Food: Extensive lunch menu. Dinner includes various pasta dishes and similar entree items in the 1000 yen range. Soft drinks are 500 yen (300 if ordered with an entree or dessert). Desserts are mostly sponge cakes in the 700 yen range.
"Love": Writing on the entrees in catsup or mayonnaise (for 150 yen extra), and on the cappuccino in chocolate syrup.
Outfits: Dark green dresses with white aprons. Dresses are both knee length and floor length.
Photos: 500 for a photo of just the maid. To get a photo of yourself with a maid, you need to fill up one of the points cards.
Wireless Internet: (?) (No laptops in evidence when I was there.)
Specialties: There's a piano in the cafe. For 1000 yen, you can have a maid play the piano and/or sing.
Recommendation: cafe la vie en rose is very relaxed compared to some of the other maid cafes in the area, and the maids have a lot of fun working with each other. They're also pretty good on the piano. The menu items are a bit on the high side, but at least there's no cover charge. It's a fun place to kick back and relax. Recommended.