With so many food options in our Shibuya home, there were definitely moments when choosing my daily onigiri at the convenience store where I wondered if we were doing ourselves a disservice by not trying all the breakfast cafes on offer. To be fair, we were rarely leaving until 10AM - Tokyo's leisure spots don't shake themselves awake before then - and money saved buying perfectly delicious and healthy onigiri is more money to enjoy other things. But there were a few days we wanted to treat ourselves to Tokyo's hottest (mostly Western) breakfast spots. Which are mostly famed for their coffee, let's be honest. Oops?
They say you should eat breakfast 'like a king' and Viron Patisserie definitely makes you feel like one - or more accurately, like a queen at a fancy French cafe for breakfast. From the richly red furnishings to the copies of vintage French art nouveau posters (hello, Toulouse-Lautrec!) on the walls leading to the stairs and the impeccably dressed waitstaff, this is a place where you expect old ladies with Chanel couture blazers and pearls to dine and Mozart to be playing in the background as you drop a sugar cube into your cappuccino. To be fair, it's not as uppity as I make it sound but this is not a place to skimp out on coffee (literally...you can't. They require each person to order at least one drink) and you should be prepared to pay a (comparatively) pretty penny for the experience.
I can't help but feel like our praline pastry would have tasted just a tad better if it was heated up. That being said, it was still very good - puffy and light but with the praline mash to balance it out. The sandwich was also full of small vegetable pieces and - unexpectedly - pickles that makes for a good choice to those who prefer a savoury start to the day.
I'm not in the habit of drinking any coffee (I've never felt any sort of caffeine kick and it is an expensive, expensive habit), so the quality of my Gibraltar at Bear Pond Espresso was...well, utterly lost on me as I have nearly no frame of reference to draw from. I can only say that it was quite a finely textured drink - almost watery in consistency but definitely not in flavour. Bear Pond Espresso is famed for being a hole-in-the-wall-thank-god-there's-decent-coffee-somewhere-in-Tokyo place, tucked away in a low, nondescript little nook of one of Shimokita's streets. It definitely has a bit of the 'cult following' feel, especially since the owners don't allow any photos except of your drink, and all the customers had that contemporary-artist feel to them. You generally want to avoid the eateries where only foreigners gather in an Asian country, but not the coffee houses, I think. Or the places that specialise in foreign food.
There's no food sold here and you'll have to be early to get one of the tiny tables built into the wall but you are allowed to bring in cupcakes from the store opposite Bear Pond and another bakery a little up the road to snack on.
Again, see above for absolute lack of coffee expertise - but I am assured by Bianca and Alex that this Harajuku store boasts some of Tokyo's best coffee; and who better to trust than two 留学生 (ryuugakusei - exchange students) who have been here for half a year, who are both addicted to coffee? Also, cute baristas with awesome style, which I did judge personally : P Beautifully furnished store with alfresco spaces (with outdoor heaters for winter) and they don't even mind if you smuggle in a Christmas cheesecake tart (more on that in another post)