A La Campagne: A patisserie lacking a little 'je ne sais quoi'

by J.J. O'Donoghue

Special To The Japan Times

A La Campagne, or “in the countryside” is a loosely French-themed chain of patisseries and cafes. The first shop opened in the sweet-toothed city of Kobe in 1984 and since then they have been sprouting up all over Japan. On a recent sojourn to Osaka, I popped into the branch in the city’s Shinsaibashi district, which is notionally as far from the countryside as Mars is. I was pulled in, so to speak, by the variety of cakes on display at the entrance: tarts, meringues, galettes and pastries. I can resist everything except temptation and a tart, to misquote Oscar Wilde.

The lunch menu is limited but offers French staples such as quiche, croque-madame, similar to the croque-monsieur but topped with an egg. I started with the brightest cake on the menu, tarte rouge, a raspberry tart or tarte aux framboises, and followed it with a montagne, a sweet chestnut tart on a bed of almond cream and puff pastry. Neither of my choices were listed among the top-three best-sellers, and though good, they lacked a little je ne sais quoi to make them outstanding.

The cake lineup is well matched by the drinks menu, which includes a range of teas, scented and herbal, as well as coffees. The coffee was surprisingly good.

A La Campagne offers a pleasant respite from the Shinsaibashi jungle.

In line with the nationwide state of emergency declared on April 16, the government is strongly requesting that residents stay at home whenever possible and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.
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