As its name suggests, Kakegawa Grand Hotel is the swankiest place to stay in town, but you don't have to actually stay there to enjoy the opulence. Its first floor Mandarin Lounge restaurant is open to all comers, and serves food and drinks that are perfectly affordable, despite the lavish surroundings.
And it's very lavish indeed. The ceiling is high, with a large, modern chandelier and elegant swishing fans hanging down from it, creating a hushed atmosphere as the chatter of diners drifts upward. The furnishings and tableware are simple, classy and stylish, with flowers on each table and a large arrangement at the entrance, as well as a piano which I imagine is used to provide background music for evening customers.
I'm not finished! There's plenty of light from the huge picture windows on one side, behind which there's a very pleasant outdoor terrace. Some of these windows double as a very swish water feature, with water cascading down them, dappling the light coming into the lounge. The walls are a rich, warm red, with elaborately decorated old door panels, and one display of artworks and certificates reaching up to the ceiling. The final touch is the staff; they're helpful, attentive, and immaculately turned out in pristine white shirts and black vests, straight from a high-class Paris cafe.
For my lunch I chose the special set, limited to fifteen people per day, for ¥1380. This was a bowl of rice topped with a variety of sashimi (sliced raw fish), with soup and a couple of small side dishes. The rice was slightly dry, but the sashimi was excellent, tender and full of flavour, especially with a dab of wasabi to bring out the taste.
The menu has English translations for all of the drinks and some, but not all, the food. (The website is Japanese, but scroll down and the menu section gives everything also in English.) As well as my special, lunch sets with seafood curry or spicy beef and tofu cost ¥1000 each, as do a range of pizza lunches, and spaghetti with bolognese or spinach and salmon cream sauce. Soft drinks, coffee and tea are from ¥550 to ¥770, including Viennese coffee and Assam and Darjeeling teas; or a cake set, with a drink and a slice of one of the day's selection of cakes, is ¥950. On the "night menu", draft beer, soft drinks and wine cost ¥660 each, cocktails ¥770, and premium whiskies up to ¥990.
Whether you go for lunch or dinner, and afternoon snack or an evening cocktail, Mandarin Lounge is a fine place to enjoy the high life without breaking the bank.