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.

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