Swallowtail offers not just good-looking guys, but an elegant home away from home.

Our Japanese-language correspondent Natsuki Gojo has developed a taste for the finer things in life. We suppose it was inevitable, what with her job involving wearing gorgeous wedding dresses, transforming into a Bubble Era ‘80s pop idol, and getting a makeover in the style of Japan’s famous Takarazuka theater troupe.

But Natsuki has found herself longing not just for the look, but the lifestyle of an elegant young lady, which is how she found herself at the front door of Swallowtail, a butler cafe in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood.

Arriving at the time of her reservation, Natsuki was greeted at the door by two dapper attendants, who introduced themselves as Kagawa and Iori.

What really surprised Natsuki, though, was that instead of saying “Welcome,” they greeted her with “Welcome home, my lady,” since Swallowtail invites diners to thing of the establishment as their very own mansion.

After relieving Natsuki of her coat and bags, the butlers guided her to her table in an exquisitely appointed parlor.

Opening the menu, she was presented with a variety of teas to choose from, some of which expertly blended by Swallowtail’s trained staff. Alcoholic beverages, including champagne, are also available.

Eventually, Natsuki settled on the Butterfly Classic, which she would partake of as part of the Anna Maria afternoon tea set, for 3,700 yen (US$33.65). While the edibles were being prepared, her butlers brought her a pot of tea, which they poured into a delicate porcelain cup. After a few sips of the refined and delicious beverage, Iori would quietly reappear and refill Natsuki’s cup, never forcing his mistress to ask for the service.

▼ And even if she had needed something, Swallowtail provides each table with a bell they can ring to summon their attendants, since a true lady would never resort to shouting to get their attention.

In time, Natsuki’s food was brought to her, served on a three-tiered carrier.

Somewhat embarrassed at her lack of knowledge, Natsuki asked her servants if there’s any particular order she was supposed to eat the food in, but they gently informed her that there is not, and she was of course free to partake in any manner she chose. So she started with the scones, which were still warm. “They are exceptionally delectable with both the confiture and cream,” Iori humbly offered, and Natsuki wholeheartedly agreed after following his advice.

The finger sandwiches and quiche were equally delightful…

…as was the chocolate cake, which came with a secret. Though it’s hard to see in the photo, half of the cake is seasoned with rock salt, giving the left and right sections their own distinct flavors and making the cake feel like two desserts in one.

This being her first visit to a butler cafe, Natsuki was surprised at how unexpectedly tasty everything was. Yes, she’d been counting on handsome men and regal ambiance, but she’d also mentally prepared herself for Swallowtail to coast by on the overall atmosphere, with the food and drink being placeholders/afterthoughts. In truth, though, Swallowtail also operates a chain on non-butler patisseries, and carries that same culinary quality commitment to its butler cafe menu.

Of course, the atmosphere is also an integral part of the experience. Throughout the meal, the polished manners and impeccable attention made Natsuki feel both immensely pampered, but the calm, matter-of-fact way in which Kagawa and Iori attended to her needs also made their attention feel completely natural, as would befit a noble lady in her home.

Reservations are required at Swallowtail, with lunchtime seatings lasting 80 minutes and dinnertime ones 90. However, telling customers “OK, ya gotta go!” would, obviously, undo all the kind hospitality that had been provided over the last hour and a half. So instead, when it was time to say good-bye, the time to say goodbye drew near, Kagawa approached Natsuki’s table and, speaking softly, informed her:

“My lady, it is almost time for you to depart for the ball.”

Ah yes, of course. The ball. How could Natsuki have forgotten?

And so Kagawa and Iori walked Natsuki to the door, bidding her farewell and wishing her a joyous time dancing and mingling with other members of high society, while, naturally, being far too polite to ask for specific details about the festivities. Still, Natsuki looks forward to carving out some time from her busy debutante social schedule to drop in at her Ikebukuro mansion for a spot of tea again someday.

Butler Cafe Swallowtail / 執事喫茶スワロウテイル
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 3-12-12, Showa Building basement level 1
東京都豊島区東池袋 3-12-12 正和ビルB1F
Open 10:30 a.m.-6:40 p.m., 7 p.m.-9:15 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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