Restaurant Review: Satisfying a Sweet Tooth in Sannomiya

Ever feel like you need a mini vacation from Japan? Or perhaps have the need to grab some dessert after happy hour at The Hub? Well just a few steps away from The Hub exists a gateway to another land, a cake shop in the French countryside. With its comfy atmosphere, adorable light wooden décor, French named cakes and painted walls and awnings to look like the outside of a countryside cottage, and one might as well be wandering through the back roads of Paris.

Walking into à la campagne (アラカンパーニュ) on a Wednesday night with a friend resulted in not only a sweet dessert treat, but an overall sense of warmth and delight in the cozy café, whose width was no wider than my apartment. A small entryway lined with breads and teas for sale led to a neat glass display filled with at least 15 cakes, tarts, and other desserts of all shapes, colors, and toppings. The selection of desserts ranged from fruit and chocolate tartes and gateaux(cakes) to tiramisu, fromage blancs and crème caramels. The available desserts appear to rotate in availability. Don’t worry if the French names appear to add another level of stress to your restaurant excursions (“It’s difficult enough to read a menu in katakana, you’re telling me to learn French too?!”)—honestly, just getting a good look at the display case should be enough for you to know what you would like.

A slice of tarte aux chocolat et framboise (chocolate tarte with raspberry fruit brandy) and a slice of fraise d’amour (literally, strawberries of love) were each 625 yen. A hot cappuccino and a slice of kiwi tart sets you back 1105 yen, so this isn’t your discount cake shop. Still, the price is comparable to the fancy cake stalls in department stores, and the desserts I’ve had at à la campagne have left me feeling deliciously satisfied and excited for the chance to try more.

The tarte aux chocolat et framboise was a decadent treat with tastes of dark chocolate, espresso, and fruity raspberry. Atop a crumbly cookie crust, it’s the perfect indulgence for if you simply need some chocolate and need some NOW. The fraise d’amour was a big surprise for me. Appearing a simple strawberry shortcake, it actually had a creamy whipped layer with chocolate pieces that added crunch and more chocolate indulgence. Strawberries, chocolate, and whipped cream…a well-rehearsed combination, but it’s a classic because it works.

But my favorite of the desserts that I have tried would definitely have to be the kiwi tarte. Topped with a layer of alternating green and yellow-colored kiwi slices (I didn’t even know kiwis could be yellow and still be sweet!), the creamy filling, and graham cracker crust was the ultimate treat to me. Usually I am wary of kiwi fruit in anything because some part of the fruit is always too sour or the texture is too tough. But this time, all of the slices were sweet and fit perfectly with the creaminess of the filling. Featured prominently in their menu, I’m guessing it’s only a seasonal treat that won’t be around for long.

More than simply another cake shop, à la campagne (アラカンパーニュ) provides a charming setting for a first date, getting dessert with a friend, or winding down alone after a long week at work. The bustle of people coming in and out was just enough to keep the shop feeling lively, but wouldn’t disrupt a casual date. And it’s open late enough for you to swing by before catching last train. So next time you’re in Sannomiya and have a craving for fruit, chocolate, cake, or all three, stop by à la campagne (アラカンパーニュ) and take out a slice for the ride home. In fact, I suggest you grab two, because once you’ve had a taste of à la campagne (especially of their fruit tarts), you won’t be able to wait until you get off the train.

à la campagne (アラカンパーニュ)

Locations: 4 locations in Hyogo. Reviewed location at Moonlight Bill Building (1F-Patisserie, 2F-Café) 1-10-6, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture Kitanagasa-dori. 2 minute walk west of Tits Park, right next to The Hub.

Contact Info: http://www.alacampagne.jp/index.html (Japanese only), 078-322-0130

Hours: 11:30-23:00

Price: average 1100yen ($$)

Cuisine: French-style patisserie

English friendly? The patisserie menu is in both English and Japanese. The desserts have French names and displayed prominently in a glass case.

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