Cicoute (bakery, cafe), Shimokitazawa

I tried to enter this very popular cafe bakery (with glowing reviews on the net) a couple of times before, but in vain as people were lining-up on both occasions and I very much dislike queuing for food. However, since I was in a bread mood the other day, I took "Socialnomics" (which by the way my friends at Orinoco just translated in Japanese) with me just in case, and got to the joint at 11:50, that is ten minutes before opening.
I thought the line would be as terrible as a Non-Docomo phone in Fuji Rock but only six people were waiting when I got there, and thus managed to get in as soon as the shop opened. I got assigned a little table with a Pixar-like lamp at the end of the cafe.

The interior is rather dark, making it slightly unsuitable for reading (unless you get the table I got), and tastily undecorated with not much but white walls and wood furniture. The background music was a Blossom Dairie album playing so it gives you an idea on the airy and "classy" atmosphere of the cafe. Let's say another typical Shimokitazawa relaxing shop.

Since it was my first time eating there, I asked for the recommendation which was the Cicoute Set, with a wholewheat muffin toasted with cheese and ham, a cup of ceylon tea and a serving of cold Ratatouille (stewed vegetables). In case you're not a ham&cheese person, they also have a honey&butter on plain muffin, and if the stewed vegies are not your cup of tea (if I may say), then you can choose a Japanese style "Salade Nicoise" (fresh salad with canned tuna).

The toasted rye muffin was slightly crunchy on the outside and quite doughy on the inside. The grain's aroma is quite strong, the bread quite sweet and it makes for a delicious treat. Like a good old pain de campagne, you can see some unbaked flour on top which gives that nice and crafty touch to the muffin.

The ham and melted cheese are both not too salty, allowing you to really enjoy the combination of the ingredients with the bread. There is an obvious taste of pepper which I like, but you might want to let them know in advance if you don't like that condiment.

My mother being from south of France, I tend to be pretty tough on mediocre Ratatouille, but this cold one is good, though lacking in tomato sauce (but that's just one different way of cooking the dish, I guess). The ingredients (eggplants, onions, celeries and pumpkins) are well stewed, tender and really melting in your mouth. A refreshing pleasure in this brutal heat. A special mention to the stewed pumpkins which feel almost pasty when below your palate.

The ceylon tea was very fragrant and good but I would have loved a little more of it, as it only comes in one cup. Which brings me to the major issue facing this bakery: the above set comes at a whooping ¥1, unless you're loaded, this is not going to be your lunch canteen.

True, this place is charming, relaxing, miles away from the lethal heat, offering good food made with what looks like a lot of care, but you have to be ready to pay the price, which I might be though only few times a year... But that's your choice. And remember, if you're not there before opening, you will have to wait...

Chicoute is closed on Wednesdays and open the rest of the week from noon to 21:00pm
Setagaya-ku, Daita 5-1-20 (5mn or so from Shimokitazawa's station West Exit)
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