"Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes"
Of all the things one might reasonably expect to find in downtown Utsunomiya, urban heart of Tochigi Prefecture, an old world style cafe dedicated to all things Beatles has to be far down the list.
And yet, here sits Penny Lane Bakery and Cafe, a relaxing and restful retreat just off the highway. Full of photographs, memorabilia, and an all-Beatles, all the time, soundtrack, Penny Lane is perfect for a late-morning brunch, afternoon tea, or anything in between.
"A four of fish and finger pies"
Penny Lane is a bakery, first and foremost. As such, you won't find any fish, nor any finger pies on the menu. In fact, much of their fare resembles standard items that you'd find in almost any other Japanese bakery: freshly made loaves of bread, paninis, single-serving pizzas, donuts, cream puffs, and so on and so forth. All of which would be reason enough to recommend the cafe.
However, where Penny Lane excels is in making deli-style sandwiches. Have a craving for a pastrami-on-rye? Maybe a classic BLT? Penny Lane offers these and more made fresh every day on their own bread.
For those with more of a sweet tooth, in addition to all the scones, danishes, and cookies, Penny Lane makes its own jams and jellies with seasonal fruits and tastes.
Penny Lane is also a cafe, with a full-service bar occupying the central part of the store. Visitors can have all the standard, modern coffee concoctions, or a cocktail, or even a coffee-flavoured cocktail. There are plenty of other drinks available, from Italian sodas to lemon water, which is offered free of charge for diners, with paper cups provided at the bar.
"Beneath the blue suburban skies, I sit"
Stepping into the cafe through the storm doors, visitors are greeted by a large table of seasonal items, specials, or, on occasion, rampant Beatlemania. From there, one can take up tongs and tray and select from a wide array of sweet and savoury offerings to eat in or take home.
For those eating in, Penny Lane boasts indoor and outdoor table settings. Inside, the seating is broken into three sections: the bar, a small terrace, and the main room. Outside, visitors can sit on one of two patios, one in front of the bakery and one which runs alongside the main room of the cafe.
Seating at the bar mimics old world pubs, with high stools and a narrow counter-top kept clear of the knick-knacks and memorabilia that crowd the walls and odd corners of the bar area. Right next door, the spacious, well-lit main room offers deep armchairs carefully arranged around small tables, while the terrace offers a pair of low, leather sofas on either side of a low table.
Outside, sturdy, clean garden chairs and tables are set under canopies and surrounded by greenery, all the better to sit and enjoy those blue suburban skies.
"In the middle of a roundabout"
Well. Not exactly. Penny Lane sits on a corner, just off the highway. It's Tsuruta location is easy to get to, especially by car. Take Kanuma Kaido to just past the Utsunomiya Loop Route. It's on your left. There is ample free parking available.
(For the adventurous, Penny Lane has two other locations, one that is just a bakery in Okamoto, an area inside Utsunomiya City, and the other in northern Tochigi Prefecture, in Nasu, which is a full restaurant, cafe, bakery, dog run, and a whole host of other ventures wrapped up in one beautiful location.)
"There beneath the blue suburban skies, Penny Lane"
There is not, so far as I know, any particular reason for the Beatlemania other than the owner and founder of the bakery really likes John, Paul, George, and Ringo and needed a theme for his venture. But, whether you can name every song by album and year, or if you just like really good bread, the theme works and the bakery and cafe are excellent. So, bring your ears and eyes to Utsunomiya and to Penny Lane.