Saturday, December 30, 2006

CLOSED/french: i strongly recommend PAPILLON

at San Want Hotel
No. 172, ZhongXiao East Rd, Sec. 4
(02) 2781-7063
(no longer a french restaurant)

Breakfast 6:30-9:30 am
Lunch 11:30 am-2 pm
Teatime 2:30-5 pm
Dinner 6-9:30 pm



date visited: 12/25/2006

I didn't know what to expect since I had never heard much about PAPILLON, but I was pleasantly surprised- even amazed by the beautiful presentation and exquisite tastes of dinner that night. I had been invited along on a company dinner to sample a set dinner menu for the PARIS Je'TAIME film, which turned into a lovely quiet holiday celebration.

Located in the back of the lobby past the elevators of the San Want Hotel, the entrance is very unassuming and we were seating in a large elegant private room. The private rooms are for set menus only, while they have ala carte and buffet options outside. Papillon also services the all day buffet which has an entrance on the right front hand side of the hotel lobby.

They started us off with a cheese wonton that has served warm and crispy with a soft cheesy center, which whetted our appetites.

The experience was everything a fancy French restaurant should be- decadent, romantic, beautifully presented, mouth-watering and good service. Each dish had a combination of textures- soft and crunchy, sometimes sweet and salty. The sighs of happiness could be heard around the table.

The appetizer was a plate of mini-bites of seafood and jelly. I am not a big fan of jelly, but it was so beautiful to look at. The seafood was also propped up with tiny pillows of mashed potato. The flavors were enhanced by the diced mangos and apples in the center which also provided mini-bursts of crunch and sweetness.

The tuna tartare was almost like a spicy tuna roll with a base of rice at the bottom, but without the spicy and seaweed. I didn't think I would like it, but each bite was addictive- the tenderness of the tuna with the equally soft rice and the crunch of the salad above.

The waiters then delivered to us each a slice of bread that they said was shipped in from Italy especially for the holidays.. It was a sliver of a very large loaf and some googling revealed it is probably panettone bread.

The cauliflower soup was light, creamy and again perfectly flavored- served cappuccino style. I gave my smoked salmon sliver away because I don't like smoked salmon. It would have been cool if they had served them in cappuccino cups with little handles so we could have drank the soup that way.

I can't remember the last time I had lobster THIS good. While the menu said "lobster stew," it was actually broiled and tender and sweet and flavorful. I savored every bite and chewed slowly even though it was quite a sizeable portion. The fried wonton flower that it came in was slightly sweet and weirdly, it made a great partner to the lobster and the wisps of saffron sauce.

i could probably eat way too much of this

Practically after our friend at the table mentioned that they often served a refresher before the main dish, the waiters brought out a zesty lemon sorbet scoop for us to cleanse our palates for the filet mignon.

While I definitely enjoyed the filet, it was not as hot or as rare as I would have liked it. I asked for a 5 to 6, on the scale of doneness, and I guess I should have stuck to a 5. In Taiwan, they ask you for a number, 1 being raw and 10 being well done- most of the time the waiter will recommend medium or a 5. I also might have taken too long taking pictures. The vegetables on the side were also delicious, but my favorite was the eggplant.

can i order more lobster?

While our stomaches and tastebuds were reeling from the overload of flavors and courses of the night, the desserts arrived. Again, we ate with our eyes first, and we all oohed and aahed over the prettiness and girliness of this chocolate mousse. While I love dessert and I love chocolate, I don't really care for mousse, so unfortunately, this was one of my least favorite dishes of the night. But I definitely polished off all of the handmade vanilla bean ice cream.

But it was still amazing to look at-- as far as food porn experiences go, this one was definitely lived up to its appearance- it was orgasmic tasting as it looked. I was surprised, but I guess I should have been- another restaurant in the same hotel, Sumie, has been a favorite of ours for always having beautiful and original presentation of their delicious food.

I hope my pictures captured most of the experience- it was very low "romantic" light- so I bumped my ISO up to "High," turned on my digital macro, upped the exposure and adjusted the white balance. I didn't realize until dessert that some of the pictures are a little too purple, so adjust your food porn glasses accordingly please.

So the next time you need to go out for an anniversary, birthday or celebrate something special, take a seat at Papillon. (Did I say how much I loved the lobster?) In the meanwhile, I'm definitely trying the buffet next.


abstractpoet said...

hey hungry girl, for french food i highly recommend olala, which is located near the renai-yanji intersection (the listed address is on renai, but the entrance is actually on the first alley off of yanji). the NT$1000 set menu is a great deal because unlike other set menus you can pick any entree and any dessert off the menu (it also comes with soup, salad, and coffee or tea). the duck confit is to die for, as is the creme brulee. pretty good foie gras too, if you're into foie gras.

the place is owned by paco, who is the one who opened and sold the restaurant you reviewed earlier. we had dinner there around christmas, and it was literally the best non-chinese dining experience we've had since we've been in taipei.

Lisa Wang said...

wow, that looks awesome. Now i'm a hungry girl in LA after seeing those pictures.

joanh said...

abstract: cool! will definitely try it.. $1000 NT is definitely a great deal for a nice dinner... thanks for the recommend.. and yes, it would be great to have a food-lover get together at new restaurants to try in the new year!

ffc-life: heheheh! actually, i don't think i've ever had french food in LA. unless you count french onion soup. hahah

Chubbypanda said...

Asian-style French food is always a treat. You're pictures did their job as food porn just fine.

- Chubbypanda

Lisa Wang said...

I had french food once in LA at this seriously fancy restaurant L'Orangerie that is apparently a staple of LA since it's been here for over 28 years and was once the nicest restaurant in the city, before all those trendy restaurants. Of course, it's going to be shut down so Matsuhisa can take it's space, sad.

Anonymous said...

How much does it cost at papillon?