Hi dear reader! It pains me to inform you that I am currently serving my military service for Taiwan. I will be done in May of 2013, so until then posts will be sporadic. I hope that this doesn't deter you from checking back often as I will attempt to provide content whenever I can. Thanks!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cafe Moi

Address: update coming soon.



How many quaint/cutesy/cozy cafes can spring up before we reach the saturation point? Have we reached it already? 

I mean, based on how you feel about brunch... this sorta falls under the aged old question of can there be too much of a good thing.  And I suspect the answer is almost always yes. 

These sort of establishments fulfill the dreams of many to open a restaurant without having to completely go broke in the process of doing so.  In the time since I've been bplayer's r Taiwan, I have been to my fair share of these diners and they really do come in all shapes and sizes.  I think there is a good side effect to eating at these restaurants so often, when you go to a good one, it immediately stands out.

Does Chez Moi stand out? Nope.  Does that mean its bad? Nope.  Is this the warmest endorsement? Nope. But its not bad.

Chez Moi is in a nice busy location and definitely has a pleasant homely feel to it.  Its not overly spacious and the seating feels a teensy bit cramped, but that probably adds to the coziness of it all.

An open kitchen, some nice rustic touches and the decent use of space, gives the overall vibe a better than average score.
French Toast/Omelette combo.
The food? Meh.  But you can do a lot worse than having no real opinion about the food.  It was hot, it was perfectly tasty, but I just felt the menu brought absolutely no creativity and or surprises to the choices.  That and I felt the food choices was a bit too minimal. 
Apparently all of their efforts went into creating absurd drink combinations (albeit tastily absurd).  I think a good half of the menu was dedicated to drinks (the non-alcoholic kind... I know right, what gives).  

Pretty Tasty though.

On the whole I can't argue with the notion that way too much money and more importantly, way too many calories are wasted on liquids.  Sure... there is the whole we need fluids to survive thing... but that doesn't mean it has to cost us the equivalent of another seperate entree.  
Then again.. can a price tag be placed on a sensation that comes with a cold beer on a hot day..... the lesson as always.. i know nothing.
But I would suggest that you might as well pony up some extra cash for something cool and sweet to accompany your perfectly pedestrian meal.

In the end... I think we have reached the point where any creatively marketed, decorated, named cafe falls into the same general category. This is in the end a good thing i think.
It means you won't have to waste hrs on research to find the perfect diner to meet your needs...because let us be honest... that place only exists for the taste buds in your dreams.
More and more we are paying for decor and atmosphere... and i think in that regard Cafe Moi does just fine. It's a good little restaurant that gets lost in the shuffle.. a category of existence that most good restaurants fall into. There are worse fates.

Overall Cafe Moi receives: 

6.5 seals of approval. (As you can see.. this update comes courtesy of the cell phone.. revisions will follow soon. Thanks!)

Friday, October 11, 2013

La Grande Vinotheque - 吉悅酒窖

Address:  塔悠路317號 Taipei, Taiwan

Telephone: (02)2747-5888

As great as the street food is in Taiwan, sometimes its nice to have a meal with a knife and fork.  And really, Vinotheque -吉悅酒窖 (cool name) is about as fancy smancy as you'd want without feeling like an utter snob.

Came here for a family dinner and walked away impressed.  The food, the service, the atmosphere were all quality.  The restaurant is nestled away from your typical busy Taiwan metropolitan thoroughfares, so it adds an even deeper sense of privacy than you get from the private rooms.

Vinotheque splits its time between being a top notch restaurant and a warehouse for people without room in their homes to store thousands of bottles of wine.

My typical process is: see alcohol, drink alcohol.  So i wouldn't know anything about the desire to store wine, but regardless, the wine collection here is impressive and must be worth in the tens of millions of dollars. (yes, I just made up that number).

We were shown the climate controlled storage area, but unfortunately no photography was allowed.  But it was what you'd expect: bottles and crates locked up in cages.. waiting to age until that perfect time.... honestly, I just don't get wine.  Let's just move on.

Caviar and Oyster.. like I've had.  Delicious. An elegant dish
Vegetarian option
Looks so simple.  I thought the orange flavor was a little overpowering.

As you'd might expect, the menu is preset, but you can call ahead and let the chef know some of your preferences and they will be accommodating to your needs.  

The decor is quite simple, but the ubiquitous wine bottles gives a place of feeling of opulence that is hard to properly describe.  The waitstaff was excellent, the perfect combination of being there without you ever knowing it.

Added pasta dish for the kiddies.

If you've read any of these blogs before, you might have come to realize that I'm not especially skilled at describing textures and flavors, but rather go with the hmmm.. that was good/that was very good/that was bad system.

I rather let the pictures do the talking and let the general feel of the restaurant be the focus of any of these write-ups.

Why did I just waste your time with the obvious? Well, that's because I think its important to let you know that there was a lot of sophistication that went into these dishes that perhaps i'm not adequately describing.  Just know that Vinotheque falls into the.. hmmm.. that was damn good category.

Served at the table.  Soup/dumpling.  Exquisite. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn't get to see the actual bill.  But you can expect to pay about 3000 a person to dine at Vinotheque.  But for my money (or in this instances, someone else's money) it was definitely worth it.  Its a fantastic place for some good food, and to just shoot the breeze with family, friends or loved ones.

There wasn't going to be anything left on my plate.  I knew that from the get go.
My Lamb.  Very Tender

What separates these high end restaurants from one another?  I don't think I can nail down all the specifics, but for Vinotheque, I just felt that there was a very specific plan presented by the owner (a man with tens of thousands of bottles of wine holding up the place) and that vision was executed to perfection.  There are just a lot of small touches here and there that make you feel like you are dining at a first rate restaurant. 

In time, I think I would like to be able to explain what captivates me about food better than I do now.  But for now, I can only reduce these thoughts into child like musings.  But that isn't so bad right? Food is just a basic and visceral thing, keeping it simple can't be a bad thing.

Just that Vinotheque has taken the simple and elevated it to a different plateau.  That is something even someone like me can recognize and appreciate.

Overall Vinotheque receives: 

-Til Next Time-

Mother may I.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Evan's Burger

Address: 台北市大安區敦化南路一段198號1樓 (this location)


Hours: MON~THU  11:30~22:30  Last Call  21:30 ;FRI~SUN   09:30~23:00   Last Call  22:00

Let me be perfectly clear... I love hamburgers. Always have and always will.  This love affair will continue until my arteries are clogged and my blood tests come back confirming me part cow.  But this doesn't mean that I should just accept all these grilled patties as equals and be done with it.  People tend to think that there is no art in making a fantastic burger, but with the rise of so many gourmet burger joints in Taiwan (and really the world over) perhaps people are starting to view the burger in a different light. 

I have said elsewhere in this blog that I have yet to find a piece of steak in Taiwan that made me close my eyes and whisper a little prayer of thanks, but steak's poor cousin, the hamburger, has managed to find a better home.

Unfortunately, for a restaurant that has opened multiple locations here in my native land, Evans was a massive disappoint.  I tried to love it, I even tried to begrudgingly like it.  It hurts to be so harsh to something I love so much.. tough love never is easy, let's just get this over and done with.

What makes eating at Evans so regrettable? Look no further than the mess that is their burger patty.  There might be those in this world (I hope I name none of you friend...) that like a mushy crumbling burger patty, but I mean, then why even bother eating a burger then.  Go get some type of sloppy joe/ meat loaf amalgamation and be done with it.

If the fries were mess... I would've burned the place down.  But chili fries.. like death and taxes.. always a constant in life
Really, I have nothing else to say except that I found the actual meat (probably an important ingredient) to be tremendously lacking.  For a burger joint, there is no greater condemnation.

But I couldn't just leave it at that.  There are good things, but perhaps none of them have much to deal with the burger I ate.  They offer a good variety of different burgers on the menu with interesting names.  The place is clean, and the basement level seating is large enough to seat big parties. 

My nephew went with the chicken burger, and he found that to be much better, but he's a teenager, so I basically ignore him.  All joking aside though, you might be better off ordering poultry and their breakfast items. 

When chili can't save you, something is terribly awry.

So there you have it, Evans has been dissed.  There are so many burger establishments now, you can probably walk 2 blocks and stumble into a better hamburger than this.  If you are adamant, and still want to give a try, just don't say I didn't warn you.

Overall Evan's receives:

-Til next time-