With a view overlooking the National Museum Kyoto, it is no surprise to see a group of art aficionados in their 60s having coffee and cake at trattoria sette. In another corner are pairs of "ladies who lunch" enjoying the garden view. Our late lunch begins with the feathery light cibatta. With some fragrant olive oil and sea salt this wonderful bread is manna from heaven. The thin-crusted Margherita pizza has a good balance between the tomato base and the mozzarella topping.
Even though the accompanying salad is as substantial as the pizza, the dressing is quite syrupy. A small serving of homemade ricotta with cherry tomatoes and rucola is the appetizer for the fish set and works well as a whole. Pan-fried sea bass with vongole clams, roasted cherry tomatoes, capers and olives is also small. However, cooked aqua pazza style (the water used to cook the fish is packed full of flavour from the seafood, vegetables and herbs that were cooked in it), the saltiness of the capers and olives contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the fish. Followed by tea or coffee, sharing the two sets is a way around the imbalance in portion sizes between them. The parmesan, rucola and panacetta salad from the a la carte menu is a good choice for something extra.
As we contemplate sweets the music segues from Coldplay into Radiohead, and a Japanese couple with a serious camera in tow order a few beers and take in the view. Like the wall of supporting pillars from old Japanese houses that form the back wall of trattoria sette, the patissier at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto is indispensable. The passionfruit panacotta cannot be surpassed as a perfect equation of tangy and sweet.
At the Pastry Boutique you can continue the dessert odyssey with a piece of bitter rhubarb tart or rich chestnut pie to take home. A bargain at 380yen each, they make lovely afternoon tea treats especially when made up in their stylish orange boxes. You can also buy the cibatta here. trattoria sette has filled the void of casual restaurant-cafe cum bars in one of Kyoto's most historic districts. After being overawed by the 1001 statues of the goddess of mercy at Sanjusangendo temple this is a good place to gently bring yourself back down to earth.
Lunch at trattoria sette is around 6,000 for two plus a 10% service charge.
by Justin Ellis