LE BLANCNo. 183 DaAn Road, Sec. 1
website: Le Blanc's FB page
Hours: 11:30AM- 2:30PM; 6PM - 9PM
kid friendliness: short menu, so mac and cheese and fries for broccoli for kids unless they like steak and lobster
Visits reviewed: 12/29/2015 & 3/16/2016
Le Blanc is a new steak and lobster joint in town, just opened a few months ago in December 2015. The restaurant for the gleaming white Swiio Hotel next door, Le Blanc functions as a breakfast for hotel guests, but for lunch and dinner, they have the same menu- steak frites or lobster or both. Chef Long Xiong is from Boston/NY and wanted to bring some east coast flavor to Taipei, moonlighting from his other restaurant a few blocks away, Mume.
The menu is short and sweet- Boston lobster (NT$1400) or steak frites (NT$1000 for 10 oz) and optional classic sides and desserts like truffled mac and cheese, mushrooms, creamed spinach or broccoli. There is no shortage of steak places in town, as a ton of new ones have opened in the past year (TK Steak and Seafood, Mortons, Top Cap), but I can't think of (m)any steak frites places in Taipei.
Each meal includes romaine salad and warm popovers, and lobster can be chosen to be grilled or steamed. I like their popovers- they aren't as dry as the Yorkshire pudding from Lawry's and they even give you a pat of good butter if you need, though the popovers are seasoned already.
The caesar salad included is a full portion that would cost you a couple hundred NT a la carte elsewhere, with flakes of parmesan cheese, hardboiled egg and candied walnuts. It was a nice touch that they grill the romaine for the winter season. Or you can opt for a bowl of the daily soup.
The whole Boston lobster (NT$1400) comes along with a lobster bib, scissors and skinny forks to scoop out the meat. If you don't want to get your hands dirty, then opt for the grilled lobster which is already cut in half. But I quite like the taste of sweet steamed lobster dipped in butter. You have to use a little elbow grease for unlocking the whole steamed lobster (and use the bib cuz it gets messy, with lobster brains squirting around), but the scissors cut through the shell easily, even for newbies like us who needed a little bit of direction from the server (pull off the head and cut down the center back). But I did get some lobster juice on my shirt because I didn't wear the bib! And the lobster brains- I forgot to take a photo of it because it got stolen away from me at the table, it's so good!
On my second visit, Chef Long stated that they will no longer accept lobsters less than 1 1/4 pounds from their vendor, so hopefully the issue no longer exists.
For my second visit to Le Blanc, we reserved two lobsters and ordered one steak frites, which was enough to share with three other lighter eaters. Of course if you are with a bunch of dudes, which I was on my first dinner there, then everyone will appreciate that they get to have 10 oz to themselves. I'll have to be honest- my first visit to Le Blanc, just a few weeks old at the time I was a little bit worried for them. The sides were terribly salty, the steak was a bit tough and the lobster was on the small side, but the restaurant seems to have worked through its growing pains and everything was on point for my second visit.
Steak frites (NT$1000) you get to choose one choice of sauce from classic béarnaise, spicy horseradish or green peppercorn. The servers recommended the béarnaise to us. The fries can also be refilled upon request. I wonder if the roasted garlic can be too? haha. Love roasted garlic- it brings out the sweetness. The server recommended that we get the steak at medium rare (level 3 doneness) and it was perfectly done on my second visit.
Truffled mac and cheese (NT$180)-- my girl friends said that they usually don't like mac and cheese but they liked this.. With a bit of bread crumb crust, the truffle flavor is not strong, but the gemelli pasta is bathed in hot, cheese sauce. I also like the roasted mixed mushrooms (NT$180). It's great to have steak frites in Taipei when you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for full set at a steakhouse.
Creamed Spinach (NT$180)
Le Blanc's placemat/menus from my first visit
Almond clafoutis (NT$180) I don't think this on the menu anymore since now they are serving freshly baked cookies, but this was tasty as well.
All in all, I think Le Blanc can find a place in Taipei's busy dining scene if they can serve consistently good food with good service. Down the line, it would be great to see an option for steak salad or lobster salad in the NT$600-700 range? The space is quite large and suitable for big groups, although it's quite odd you have to go to the hotel side and down the elevator or stairs to go to the restroom. I will be back to try the freshly baked cookies as well as get my lobster and steak fix.