One of the best dining experiences you could have is at Fujiya Gohonjin in Nagano. Located in the Zenkoji Temple Precinct is this old ryokan that has been meticulously reformed into a restaurant, bar and functions facility. The first thing you notice as you are walking up toward the Zenkoji Temple is the facade which stands the test of a classic design built in the 1920s. As you walk inside the doors you are greeted by one of the perfectly presented and smiling staff who will assist you for either a seat in the restaurant, bar or lounge. You may be required to wait in the entrance lounge before you are escorted to your seat through a maze of rooms with low door ways and looking out onto small garden areas. The decor and furnishing create an old world charm and the service here is impeccable. The restaurant has a bustle about it and the ambient noise combines thoughtfully with the music. This place seems to make everyone feel special and delivers a smile to every patrons face. This is even before you look at the menu.
Drinks first and at 700 yen for a glass of the local house wine, it is sure to surprise even the most discerning wine connoisseur. I enjoyed the red Musee de van Matsumoto flat Black Queen from the Alps winery in Matsumoto at 3600 yen for a bottle. There is an impressive international wine cellar here with the prices very reasonable. For a non drinker try the sparkling blood red orange juice.
The food here is Italian inspired using fresh local produce. Freshly baked foccacia bread is served with an olive oil dipping bowl. Lunch has a selection of set menus ranging in prices from an absurdly cheap 1000 yen to a sirloin steak set at 3900 yen. My suggestion is to try the chefs lunch choice at 2400 to get a fantastic mix of what is on offer. Once again the service is amazing throughout the meal with very attentive yet unobtrusive staff who really know hospitality. After the main course you have the option to move into the lounge room to have your coffee and desert. Nagano is renowned throughout Japan for its apple orchards so I have to choose the apple pie for desert which comes out with a perfectly outer crispness and a moist inner pastry. A wonderful way to finish off a great meal. It would also be the perfect place to order another bottle of wine with friends and laze the afternoon away.
If you are in Nagano then I would certainly recommend booking in to Fujiya. It is not only a great wining and dining experience but an overall enjoyment to the senses. Even though you can eat quite cheaply here, my suggestion would be to splurge a little and make an event of the day or evening.
Children are welcome at lunch however I would suggest only take them if they can behave in a suitable manner.
Occasionally the facilities will be fully booked out however they have the Heigoro Patisserie across the road which serves up some amazing cakes and light meals.