My main dish: chicken, rice, veggies and salad (Photo: Peter Sidell)

Rose Mary Cafe

Classy but affordable dining in Atami

My main dish: chicken, rice, veggies and salad (Photo: Peter Sidell)
Peter Sidell   - 3 min read

As a popular hot spring resort town, Atami has no shortage of places to eat, from cheap'n'cheerful cafes to high-class restaurants. Looking for somewhere to have lunch one day I happened across Rose Mary, where I had a tasty but affordable meal in refined surroundings.

It's clearly aimed squarely at Ladies Who Lunch: for the ninety minutes I was there I was the only man, and the rest of the clientele were in no rush to get anywhere soon. In a corner building, it has lots of windows and lots of light, and the rarefied atmosphere of an upscale coffee salon in, say, Vienna or Prague.

The layout is spacious and unfussy, the furniture simple but classy. There are ornamental plates on the wall over the serving counter; it's slightly cluttered with old French books, bottles of limoncello on a side table by the piano, a vintage telephone, paintings of animals; the music was mellow piano covers, Fly Me to The Moon, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Love Me Tender; and the restroom has decorative lace curtains and smells pleasantly of vanilla. I had things to do and needed to get away after I'd eaten, but I could easily see the appeal of staying put for a long chat with a friend.

I chose the cheaper of the two "service lunch" sets at ¥1200 plus tax (the other I think was around ¥1900), and it arrived one course at a time, sumptuously presented and in very, very unhurried fashion. (The CD had cycled back round to the start before I finished.) Light, refreshing herb tea served in the daintiest of cups was followed by a selection of starters: a flavourful soup, a crisp little pastry, a stuffed cherry tomato.

Of the main courses on offer I chose the chicken, and received a good-sized piece of deliciously tender meat in a smooth, very slightly tangy tomato sauce, along with vegetables, rice, salad and sweet potato. Next was Japanese tea, in another elegant cup, then dessert was a slicelet of sponge cake, just the right size to complete the meal. After all that I felt satisfyingly full, and I'd thoroughly enjoyed the distinct flavours of the different ingredients.

I didn't see the dinner menu, but a look on a Japanese dining website told me that dishes such as mixed pizza, a sandwich set or a steak set cost between ¥1000 and ¥2000, while soft drinks and beverages like coffee and cocoa are around ¥500, beer and wine ¥600.

Before I left I had a little look in the attached Boutique Chaton. Here you can buy colourful, stylish ladieswear and a variety of accessories, many of them with cat motifs.

Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.