One of my work colleagues goes out to lunch with his wife every week. On Thursday each week, he marks the appointment in his diary and makes the time to meet his wife for lunch. Last week I was having one of those crazy weeks filled with meetings and reports. But I decided take a leaf our of my colleague’s book and make the time to step out for lunch with Mr Taiwanxifu. It was so restful and enjoyable, and helped me conceptualize some work (and life) issues in a new light that I wondered why I didn’t take a break and have lunch with Mr Taiwanxifu more often.
We decided to try out a cafe that a friend had recommended. Actually, her exact words were ‘還Ok 啦!’ (yeah, it’s okay). But because she bothered to give me the cafe’s business card (and because she is very discerning) I knew it had to be nice. So it was that we ventured forth to Cafe Cafe 樂子咖啡.
We had a bit of trouble finding Cafe Cafe at first, as it is hidden down an alleyway in the maze of restaurants behind the Taipei Government MRT exit number 1. Actually, once we found it we realised it is not far from Peking Duck Nazi restaurant (aka Song Kitchen). I liked the sense of stumbling across a hidden oasis within the otherwise drabness of a commercial district. And judging from the large number of young people in the cafe — many of them groups having a girls’ lunch out — we were not the only ones to think the venue was pretty cool. The day we visited, the restaurant was quite busy and we just managed to get the last seats in the front courtyard. Service was slow at first and we struggled to hail someone to take our order. But once we had placed our decisions, the food was quick to arrive.
After some deliberation, I chose a salmon burger with wasabi mayonnaise (NT$200). I had hoped to switch to a more health conscious type of bread, but unfortunately they only had white bread varieties. The pale pink salmon patty was somewhat thin, hidden beneath the iceberg lettuce salad and drenched in melted cheese. I thought the salmon burger was a bit too sweet, although that may have been due to the wasabi mayonnaise. The meal came with a complementary choice of side dish: I opted for fruit, figuring there was already enough salad on the bun. The fruit was slightly discoloured apple with some grapes and orange, which was nicer than it looked.
Mr Taiwanxifu ordered slow-roasted pulled pork on ciabatta bread with red cabbage, jalapenos and Dijon mustard (NT$240). He opted for a side dish of hash brown potato. (Our special lunch was perhaps not the best time to remind him about his high cholesterol level.) I sneaked a bite of his pork, and thought this was a stand out dish. There is something about melting soft slow cooked meat, done well, that so comforting. The red cabbage and jalapenoa were a good match, and made the dish look much more festive as well.
I was a little confused by the menu choices. I thought the menu specified that you could get a set meal if you paid extra, but it seemed that our meal order came with complementary soup anyway. The thick yellow mass was sweet and creamy: at a guess I would say it was carrot and potato soup but I was not sure. It was okay, but perhaps I am a little jaded by the semi-compulsory business lunch soup entrée.
My lemon tea was also not quite as spectacular as it looked. It was freshly brewed, which was a nice touch. But it was a bit too strong, not quite sweet enough, nor did it have the right lemony kick.
Cafe Cafe 樂子咖啡 is at No 2, Alley 5, Lane 147, Section 1 Keelung Road (信義區基隆路一段147巷5弄2號). It is open from 10.00am to 10.00pm Monday to Friday, and from 09.00am to 10.00pm on weekends. They have several breakfast options, so it would make a nice venue for a weekend brunch with friends. Menu is in English and Chinese.