WIFE&HUSBAND is a charming and cozy café close to 北大路大橋Kitaoji Bridge; I found it relatively easy to find with a map, off of 北大路通Kitaoji Street on a small road that dared even a small car to drive in with such narrowness when I went with Ryo and Haruna in late September this year. Unfortunately, it was closed to our disappointment but since this does happen, especially when one doesn’t check to see if a shop is closed, we all just chocked it off as “残念zannen (too bad)” and put it back on our list to try again another day…two days later, on a cloudy day, I went back alone around noon after checking to see if they were open which they were.
Since its opening in mid-August last year, the café’s popularity has increased immensely; I assume that one of the reasons is the design of the exterior. The hanging stools and the benches outside are rented (tables, blankets and even parasols are available for rental as well) by customers who prefer to have coffee or the light fare that they offer along the 鴨川Kamo River close by; I’m sure that many take advantage of this option especially in the fall or spring. Without parking space for even bicycles, even the owners’ bicycle was strung up out of the way, adding more to the charm of the exterior, at least in my opinion☺. If the bicycle and the meters weren’t in the picture, I would have thought I’d chanced upon a tavern in Europe somewhere, in the Age of Revolution.
I pulled the door open and put my head in timidly; I already knew that there was a good chance that I’d be seated immediately since I could tell through the window that the two-seater table closest to the door was empty but I asked anyway. The gentle petite wife owner, dressed in simple white dress that even looked like fashion from the Age of Revolution, smiled sweetly and offered me the empty table. The husband owner dressed also in simple white attire was busy getting coffee beans packed for two customers standing at the counter whom I judged to be from out of town from their conversation.
After the wife owner brought me water and a menu, I asked for some time to peruse the menu before ordering…upon opening the menu I could see why she immediately asked for my order, because the menu was quite limited. After ordering I took a better look at the inside. There was a bench and two stools in front of the big front window; I couldn’t tell if they were for waiting or seats for having coffee without a table…probably waiting seats, though. A cute little child piano served as a table by the door holding shop cards, including WIFE&HUSBAND’s of which I took the liberty of taking one upon noticing.
The counter seats four people; if there hadn’t been customers there when I arrived, I just might have sat there, just because I like watching the actions of the staff and checking out the kitchen area when possible, it gives my impression of a café more depth.
This side of the counter is where the coffee beans are stored; the owner roasts his own beans, I hear using the coffee roaster at DRIP&DROP COFFEE SUPPLY where WIFE&HUSBAND’s Daughter blend is served…the roaster is from ハマ珈琲Hama Coffee in 大阪Osaka, just like 鳥の木珈琲Tori no Ki Coffee‘s roaster.
the view of the table side
There are only two two-seater tables, bringing the available seats to a grand total of eight. If the café is overwhelmed with customers, yeah, those stools and benches outside may come in handy as long as it’s not too windy, rainy or snowy outside…too bad that one can’t take drinks to go (I asked). The interior is quite simple but with carefully thought-out, tasteful details, many antiques; my favorite part was the ceiling adorned with bouquets of dried flowers adding the perfect amount of subtle color and feminine touch.
I was quite peckish on my arrival, not having lunched yet, but they only serve two kinds of toast, a cake (due to change) and rusk. Luckily, the honey cheese toast, ￥400, sounded really good, especially when I found out that it was blue cheese, and so that’s what I got with the DAUGHTER blend, ￥550. The deep rich flavor of the coffee complimented my delectable toast and as I looked out at a light drizzle which had started while I was occupied with my toast, the coffee made me feel warm and I was completely content to be sheltered in such a lovely atmosphere.
The birth of WIFE&HUSBAND was due to the owner couple looking for a home for their family near the river; they describe their finding the old building to be like fate. After renovating it, they also realized that it would be an ideal space to start a café…the husband owner used to work for Mariage Frères, so if he’s as good with coffee as he is with tea, then one won’t be disappointed. From time to time there is another space used for events which are announced on their website.
Halfway through my stay, a reserved couple came and occupied the other table (the party who had been there when I arrived had left not too long after I’d settled in), so it was a peaceful stay, until two young women, one of whom was quite loud, especially when she launched into a conversation about a friend’s troubled love affair at the counter. I don’t know just how okay the reserved (but by no means unfriendly) owners were with the noise level (they didn’t seem bothered much but people in Kyoto never show their true feelings in front of strangers) but I somehow found myself feeling guilty at overhearing their conversation, especially since the louder of the two was facing my way and I’m one whose thoughts show on her face. When I left, it was more because I wanted to hit some more cafes in the area😜. Definitely plan to come back, hopefully there will be space for me then.😅