Marinecco is a stylish European-style café and bar on Matsuyama’s chicest street, the Ropeway Gai. An inviting path of wooden decking leads past the small terrace seating area facing the street. Inside, there’s a cozy table by the window where you can espy the passers-by, a few tables overlooking the bar, and a comfy sofa area right at the very back with cushions, under a huge and intricate lampshade. The decor is modern and subdued and the music is typically Delta Blues, which creates a very comfortable environment.
Marinecco makes no secret of its main draw, the Guinness and Kilkenny Irish cream ale on tap. Signs outside and inside proclaim unmistakably that this is a Guinness pub. A pint of Guinness and Kilkenny costs 900 yen, or a much more reasonable 600 yen during the happy ‘hour’ that runs from 5 to 8 pm. But Marinecco is not a one-trick pony by any means. They also serve a selection of very drinkable wines, as well as sake and shochu for those who might tire of long, creamy pints of Irish nutrition.
Plates of skinny fries with a ketchup dip are a good choice to go with the beer or wine, but there comes a point when you need something more substantial. The gourmet pizzas such as gorgonzola and garlic, gorgonzola and raisins, and sun-dried tomatoes and ham are very good indeed, and the aroma of them baking is enough to make the average person drool. The sausages are a heart-stoppingly healthy thickness. There are also simple salads, which accompany the richer offerings very well.
Managing a stylish café and bar requires a certain finesse, and the couple who own Marinecco have it. Invariably dressed in black, the master is a quiet, genial presence. Female friends speculate a little breathlessly that he was probably a boxer at an earlier date. The mistress of the house is a ray of sunshine, bustling about dispensing good cheer and refills of iced water. She’s also prompt to recommend a third or fourth pint of the house specials, and it seems churlish to resist.
Ropeway Gai, named for the cable car that goes up to Matsuyama Castle, offers a wealth of things to see and do, and after some hard sightseeing and shopping, nothing feels more natural than to fall into Marinecco at 5 pm to catch the rising wave of happy hour.