No. 23, Alley 4, Lane 345, Ren Ai Rd, Sec 4
date revisited: 1/3/2007
original visit: 11/13/2006
The second time around, everything was delicious. I suppose you have to stick to what your friends and the waiters recommend when you are visiting a favorite restaurant of someone you know. The last time I came to Mr. Paco's, I was a bit underwhelmed. The food had been hyped up to me and it didn't live up to the hype. But this time- it did.
The salmon salad had a tangy dressing- and though I am not a big fan of smoked salmon, there was enough fresh romaine and tomato to go around.
The baked eggplant mozzarella appetizer should be eaten as soon as its served. With a bit of pesto dressing the cheese, it was like the mushy hot little sister to a tomato mozzarella caprese, in a good way.
The hawaiian pizza plus mushrooms was loaded with cheese and toppings that didn't overwhelm the thin crust. The tomato sauce had a lot of flavor and everything about the pizza worked- it's probably one of the better pizzas I've had in Taipei and definitely great portion for the price.
Recommended by the waiter, the lemon chicken spaghetti was unusually refreshing and light yet fulfilling at the same time for a cream sauced pasta. I was a little doubtful when he recommended it, expecting the lemon to be too strong, but instead it was a perfect match. The cream clung to the spaghetti like a creamy coat and I wanted to mop up the rest of the sauce with the chicken and shiitake mushroom slices. The spaghetti was al dente and didn't last very long on the plate.
We showed up again a little early to an empty restaurant with our choice of seating to choose from- this time for lunch- but it quickly got crowded as lunch hour approached. I have to note also that the service is especially kid friendly and nice, without being overbearing or fake. With all the food, we didn't have room for dessert, but next time, I'm saving room for the strawberry crepes that I spotted at the counter!
No. 23, Alley 4, Lane 345, Ren Ai Rd, Sec 4
date visited: 11/13/2006
Mr. Paco might sound like a dive that serves Mexican food, but actually it's a quaint comfortable restaurant that serves Italian fare such as pizza, risotto, pasta, salads and desserts. My friend works near here and raved about it to me more than once. After a long day, we thought we'd have an early dinner around 5:30pm or so. The space was really cute and bisto-ish, with burnt orange walls and candles on each table that would be great for a romantic date or a lively dinner out with friends and family. It was unusually quiet because we were there off-peak- she said it's sometimes hard to get a table during their rush hours.
She told me that she usually ordered pizza and pasta, and was happy to try some new things that looked appealing to me from the menu which was in English and Chinese. The menu had a pretty wide selection of antipasta, salads, pastas, pizzas, and main dishes like risottos, paella and kebabs. We chose to split a chicken asparagus mushroom salad, steamed mussels with white wine and sundried tomato and prosciutto risotto.
To my surprise, the salad we ordered wasn't really a salad- more like a stir-fry with four leaves of lettuce, and nothing in the menu listed it as a hot salad. The flavor was not bad- with a bit tart with balsamic vinegar flavor which was soaked up by the chicken and mushroom, but not the asapargus. It was also very peppery and a bit watery.
On the menu, you can choose from many different sauces for the mussels- including white wine, sundried tomatoes, pesto, garlic- and the waitress suggested the popular white wine. When the order came, the mussels were smaller than I expected- they looked sort of shrunken and not as big as their shells. Though there seemed to be lots of onions and garlic, the flavor was a bit bland. It was a bit disappointing compared to really great steamed mussels I've had at other Italian eateries (such as Grappa's in Hong Kong. mmm)
Perhaps it was my own fault for try to explore the items off the beaten path of popularity for this restaurant- or maybe my tastebuds were different from my Taiwanese friend. I will go back and try the pastas and pizzas someday, but I suppose at any restaurant you are going to strongly recommend to a friend- you want anything off the menu you order to amaze your tastebuds- so you won't know if you always stick to your favorites. But with a menu this large, maybe there will be a few misses before we hit the jackpot.