Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on April 2009

Photo Courtesy of Rogue

Photo Courtesy of Rogue

When is a bar not a bar? When it’s been turned into a living room. Such is the case at beer pub Rogue, a drinking establishment so homey it made us feel like we were intruding in someone’s house when we stepped inside.

Located on a quiet alley a stone’s throw from the bustle of Kichijoji station, Rogue combines the trappings of a countryside home with the classic English pub archetype. The stone floors are covered with worn rugs and the walls are decorated with a variety of beer memorabilia, old flower pots, TVs, fans and other domestic knickknacks. Customers sit at polished wooden tables, each topped with an empty liquor bottle with a light bulb inside in lieu of a candle. Adding to the aura of domesticity, the interior is dotted with wooden display cabinets and flowers of the kind one might expect to find on a dining room table.

Though the décor was designed in the British mold, Rogue’s drink menu isn’t nearly so orthodox. It boasts a fairly wide selection of draft beers, including Bass (¥600 for a half pint, ¥900 for a pint), Guinness (¥600/¥900), Ebisu (¥500/¥800) and the Belgian-style Maredsous “Luxury Premium Beer” (¥1,000). We ended up going for the latter, which was mild, full-bodied and not overly sweet. There are also 23 varieties of bottled beer (¥700-¥1,200), including Belgian stalwarts Leffe Blond (¥800) and Delirium Tremens (¥1,100), the English Black Wych (¥1,000) and the American Anchor Steam (¥700).
If spirits are more your thing, grab a cocktail (all ¥700) or a whiskey instead (singles ¥500-¥1,500). There’s an impressive range of single malts, blends and bourbons on offer, including Yamazaki 12 Year (singles for ¥900, doubles for ¥1,350) and the venerable Lagavulan 16 Year Old (¥1,500/¥2,750).

The food menu finds space for standard pub grub like fish and chips (¥1,000), grilled herring (¥900) and Guinness stew (¥1,200), but also contains a wide array of toasted French bread melts. We plumped for the curry and cheese toast (¥500), a mouthwatering snack whose spice was pleasantly tempered by a topping of mozzarella and Gouda. Other options include anchovy paste and garlic toast (¥400), salmon roe toast (¥400), a cheese plate (¥700), various curries (¥800-¥880) and even fried wild boar (¥500). Being an adventurous lot, we couldn’t resist sampling that last one, and were surprised by its tenderness and slightly sweet teriyaki flavor. 

Rogue’s crowd is a mix of Japanese and foreigners, and the conversations are a far cry from what you might hear on a Friday night in Shibuya. By eavesdropping on the table next to us, we even learned a little bit about American foreign policy in Jamaica—very highbrow.
All in all, it’s hardly England, but gathering some friends and paying a visit to Rogue may at least give you a whiff of the old country.