It was a public holiday afternoon in Shinjuku, the sun was shining, and Tokyu Hands was crowded. What better time to try the new Little Delirium Café, an outdoor beer haven that’s located right on Shinjuku Southern Terrace? Shopping could wait: we had other priorities.
It was actually our second visit to the former home of Travel Cafe. The first was on the opening night, when a fellow enthusiast and I went to check out Tokyo’s latest specialty beer bar. Put off by the spectacle of sheepish grown men in pink graduation robes and a singularly shrill woman crying “Please clap!” in heavily accented English, we sought our suds elsewhere.
Not a propitious start, perhaps, but Little Delirium seemed worth another go. Many of the best locations for beer in the capital appear to be bunkers deep underground: bastions that appeal mainly to a knowledgeable elite rather than the general drinker. The rare combination of outdoor seating with delicious beer was a temptation we couldn’t pass up.
After waiting some time for both the taciturn waiter and a menu, we started with the bar’s namesake, a deliciously refreshing Delirium Tremens (¥900). On tap, it seemed lighter and less syrupy than in its bottled form, and was apparently served at the lower range of its optimal temperature—closer to 8 degrees Celsius than 12. However, this suited both the deceptively light nature of the beer and the warm weather.
We followed that with the delightful Tripel Karmeliet, a complex, fragrant beer that’s rather difficult to find in Tokyo. The extensive list of bottles at Little Delirium also includes Orval (¥1,600), Leffe Blonde (¥1,300), Guillotine (¥1,200) and St. Bernardus Tripel (¥1,150). Not the most original selection, perhaps, but it’s still a very good one, albeit a tad pricier than at some other places in town. Cocktails ring in at a fairly hefty ¥800, and non-alcoholic offerings include coffee (¥400) and juices.
The food menu incorporates all that’s trendy in Tokyo at the moment, replete with jamón ibérico (¥680), frites (¥500) and mussels in white wine sauce (¥1,100-¥3,000)—an attempt, one could wager, to compete with better-known beer haven Frigo down the road. There are also bar snacks like nuts (¥380) and main dishes from ¥1,000-¥1,600, although you might be hard-pressed to get the waiter’s attention during daytime service.
Still, at nearly 9 percent alcohol content for both the Delirium and the Karmeliet, we found ourselves pleasantly buzzed with the sun still shining, and much more willing to overlook the spotty service. After all, sometimes you just want to sit outside and savor a nice glass of beer. It won’t take the place of our usual beer haunts, but the dual lure of sun and brews in a convenient location makes Little Delirium worth a visit.