Sometimes “chance” is fantastic and in my meanders, I happen upon something exquisite–a breadcrumb or baguette that shows me I’m on the right road.
Stumbling upon Nos Ancetres de Demaine, in Ogikubo, was just that—down to the samba, vintage French posters, and the chef walking me out to better explain my choices from the lunch-special signage. And when pork did not suit me, I chose a fromage sandwich and salad, wrapped to go from their take-out section, which he graciously plated for me, truly fluffed the salad, making it less sparse with the addition of more greens, fresh vinaigrette, and ziti, al dente.
Served with kocha (tea), my entire lunch meal came to 560 yen. Truly unbelievable for such quality bread, cheese, gorgeous vinaigrette, and this atmosphere of a non-crowded, non-smoky, non-chain café. What a find. Upon sitting down at my café table in the corner, a very sweet rendition of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” began playing. I was home in my new café, charmed.
The café is outfitted in retro French pendant lighting, solid wood café tables, Duralex glassware, and silverware with heft. No throwaway plastic forks or cups. It’s the little things, non?
Although the waitress was a little short on smiles or water service, the cheery, peaceful cook made up for it.
Nos Ancetres de Demaine offers such standards as the classic baguette as well as a rye baguette, croissant, pain au chocolate, a nice rustic pain de campagne, brioche, pudding, muffins, tartes, and rolls. While breads are not baked in-house (I know), the cook does more than assemble. Fragrant pots of simmering apples and spices bubble behind the counter; he creates the courses (a generous plating of stewed pork for today’s lunch special), and does all of the in-betweens, including running the impressive espresso machine.
After some investigating, I learned that Nos Ancetres was opened in 2004, under the ownership of Chef Yoshio Suzuki, who has cooked and baked in Paris, Nice, and Lyon, won numerous baking competitions, and has a flagship shop and another sister-shop nearby. Bread & treats are delivered daily and somehow, somehow, the prices are this low for such raging, graceful quality.
I shall have to go back soon to report more low prices and details of my next meal, but from the fantastic 180-yen cheese sandwich I tasted, my fresh 130 yen salad, the 200 yen rye baguette I took home for my family, and the ambiance, it is fairly clear that this café is more than a winner.
I don’t know that you can spend so little even at a Japanese convenient store for one of their mini salads. This cafe is an absolute mystery, but I won’t be one to question blessings or fate.
Take-out or better yet, sit-in to make the most of this treasure. The café seats fourteen—with five tables for two, and one table seating four.
Next time you find yourself in or near Ogikubo, seek out this gem and stay a while. You’ll feel like a cafe rockstar with all of these little treats piling onto your tab. You’ll sip and smile, feeling oh-so-knowing. Your new French cafe is a wise indulgence.