Cafe Matsugamine: A hip spot with an impressive drink list
Cafe MatsugamineCuisine: Japanese
Located steps away from the Utsunomiya Castle Ruins Park this café is a great stop no matter what time of day. With the wide range of specialty drinks combined with the rich food and relaxing atmosphere, it’s no wonder this place is often at full capacity!
The main attraction at this café is its drinks. They have over 90 non-alcoholic drink offerings including coffees, teas, sodas, flavored milks, and non-alcoholic cocktails. Under the heading of “Coffee” alone they offer over 30 varieties of iced, hot, drip, and espresso beverages. If coffee is not your thing, they have 9 different types of tea which can also be served iced. Their flavored sodas, milks, and cocktails are made with Teisseire syrups from France. My personal favorite selections are the chai latte served with a thick layer of foam on top, and the hazelnuts latte decorated with latte art.
Their menu changes with the season, however the food is always rich and well-prepared. This winter their set lunch menu offered a drink, a salad, and a choice of Chicken Fricasse with Rice, Thai Green Curry, or a “Taste of Winter” Pasta dish. The Taste of Winter was a pasta dish made with scallops and winter vegetables sautéed in a creamy white wine and garlic sauce and topped with grated parmesan cheese.
The salad was a set of three dishes placed on a single plate. The first was a mix of greens topped with sliced almonds and a simple tart dressing. Next to this lay a crispy crostini topped with a cream cheese and sundried tomato spread. All of this was visually balanced by a small ramekin filled with crunchy carrot and raisin salad with a delectable marinade. Impressively, the set menu opens itself to a much wider range of its full drink menu than the simple coffee, tea, or juice options that you find at other cafés.
Their desserts are just as delightful as is their entrees. The chocolate brownie is deeply chocolate, the pumpkin pudding is silky, the cheese cake is smooth, and the scones are warm and hearty. For an extra 350 yen, they are well worth it.
At each table is a menu set in a picture frame and a small votive candle. The warm woods mix nicely with the cream colored upholstery and the white walls. Small animal figurines are displayed, and sometimes hidden, throughout the café giving the place an adorable touch. The music softly piping through the café is a mix of smooth jazz and acoustic guitar that provides a relaxing atmosphere as you sip your coffee and gaze out the large picture window to the street outside. At night the café turns into a low-key bar and serves up cocktails and snacks until 10:30. They also hold the occasional concert, so check out their blog for the latest news!