I have heard that Cote d'Azur is one of the highest grossing bakeries in Japan, but to be honest, I am not a big fan of fancy schmancy bakeries in Japan. I find that the treats they offer are not sweet enough (because of my lingering Canadian sweet tooth), or that they don't have a strong enough taste, or that they have far too many beans in them to be considered a real dessert. Anyway, both Cote d'Azur and La Vie Provencal are high quality bakeries, but I haven't really been excited about having them in my neighbourhood...
Until today. When I went to Provencal the first time, I just bought some bready things at the counter and ate them in the dining area. I can't recall whether I knew about the restaurant menu at that time. Perhaps I just didn't have time to wait for a meal to be cooked that day. I remember thinking that the bready things were good, but not great. Kind of standard Japanese bakery things, but fancier (and remember, fancy doesn't usually impress me in a bakery).
Today, however, I did have time to order a meal. I had a tomato soup dish with three slices of baguette (two with toppings and one plain) and my friend ordered a kind of soba crepe with salmon, cheese, and vegetables inside (which had a proper name on the menu, but I can't remember it right now). Both of the dishes were deemed delicious by their respective owners, and there was enough there to make sure we were not tempted to go for one of the desserts on the menu (which means that I can't review the desserts -- sad for you, happy for my waistline).
Today's visit forced me to reconsider my opinion of La Vie Provencal. I will definitely start including it in my list of places to recommend when people ask me to suggest a good lunch place.
La Vie Provencal is located on the road that skirts the east side of K's Denki on Tsuchiura Gakuen-sen. If you are coming from Tsukuba Center, drive west on Tsuchiura Gakuen-sen away from Seibu and Jusco. Pass the intersection with Nishi Odori and take a left (south) at the next intersection. Follow that road and you will see La Vie Provencal on your left, about 300 meters (at least that's my impression) from the intersection. If you pass the yakiniku restaurant, you have gone too far. The address is Onozaki 147-1. (Click for a map in Japanese.)
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