“500 yen. Is cover charge.” This is the first thing I hear when I get in out of the rain. Not a good start, but I’m here on a mission.
“I’m fine with that. I hear you have the Devil’s own brew here.”
The waiter eyed me quizzically. As it turned out, he only knew enough English to tell foreigners that there is a cover charge. I guess that is usually enough to drive them off.
I agreed to the charge and got a seat at the bar at the Glass Dance Craft Beer Bar. Their website helpfully tells you that it is a 2-minute walk, or “a 45 second sprint” from Shinagawa JR station’s Kōnan gate. However fast your Beer Emergency compels you to move, you will depart from the station exit, go down the steps, and walk a block and a half straight ahead. And there it is, across the street from one of the Big Echo Karaoke stations, on your left.
“I’ll have the Satan Beer Red,” I told him. “Don’t worry, I understand hyperbole. I don’t believe Lucifer himself created this brew. I understand that a distributor has to give his product an attention-getting name and a cool bottle label in order to attract interest in an increasingly jaded beer-drinking public. And it worked! I saw the bottle in the display window. Good for you. Let’s get on with the temptations to my immortal soul.”
Bewildered by the stream of gibberish I just laid on him, the waiter moved away to fill my order. This gave me a chance to look around. The bar itself has a faux-rustic style that is just subtle enough to not be irritatingly overdone. The decor is the SOTW (Stuff On The Walls) standard, primarily pictures of the insides of breweries. And over to the side–a kitchen?
Yes, they have a kitchen at Glass Dance. A kitchen that has an actual chef, not just some dude heating Hot Pockets in a microwave or a kid working a deep fryer. Intrigued, I flip through the English-subtitled food menu. Given the pub atmosphere, I decided to go with the fish and chips (780 yen). The bar also offers other selections from standard bar fare (margherita pizza, chicken wings, etc).
Old Scratch’s libation arrived. The Satan Beer Red was pricey (1150 yen) and ehh. Surely the Lord of Darkness would not allow such swill to represent him on earth. Perusing the drink menu, the price for Satan Red (and its companion brew, Satan Gold) seemed to be on the low-end of a large selection of imported bottled beers. A switch to the less-pricey tap seemed to be in order, and right at that moment my food arrived.
I wasn’t expecting much from people who jerk me up short for 500 yen at the door. But the fish and chips were actually pretty damn good. And there were plenty of fries, not just the five or six that one usually receives at other places. On a recommendation from the waiter, I try a Poperings Hommel Bier from the tap (930 yen). It came in a strange onion-shaped glass. An amber, but light and tasty. Things were starting to look up.
Next, I surveilled the bar. There were a number of different drafts available, the sign of any good watering hole. De-Koninck Authentic Antwerps, the Poperings Hommel I was drinking, Extra Vedett White. The Hoegaarden mega-pint (seemingly the most accessible European beer in all of Tokyo) could be had for 1380 yen. And still others, both from marked and unmarked taps. This selection, mixed with their imported bottled beer list, gives Glass Dance a broad range of interesting offerings.
It was still raining when I finished the Poperings Hommel. So, another beer with my Dao De Ching? Don’t mind if I do. I had a Leffe Blonde (930 yen). A perusal of the Leffe website gives off airs of a brewer who wishes he was a vintner, but the beer had a nice, light flavor that went well with my decidedly-plebian meal selection. That, and even though I had been munching and reading for a bit, I still had a pot full of fries. I certainly didn’t feel ripped off on that count, cover charge or no.
Glass Dance is one of those bars that opens in the early evening and stays open all the way until just before the station starts operating again in the morning. It would be a reasonable (if expensive) place to spend an all-nighter if you miss that last train, or a place to stagger to if it’s late but you don’t quite feel like going home just yet. Although the prices will keep it from being a regular stop, I’ll be going back for the beer selection and to check out the kitchen’s other offerings.
Location: Two-minute walk from Shinagawa Station JR. Open Monday-Saturday 1700-0400, 1700-2330 on Sundays and public holidays. Accepts Visa, Mastercard, and other major credit cards.
Google-garbled translated website: http://translate.google.co.jp/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://r.gnavi.co.jp/g600151/&prev=search (includes map)