Monday, October 29, 2012

western/drinks: i recommend LOVE LOVELY

No. 3, Lane 345, Alley 4, RenAi Rd., Sec. 4
(02) 2771-3800

MRT: Zhongxiao/Dunhua

website: Love Lovely's FB page

hours: 12PM - 10PM

$$ (about NT$300-600/person)

Kid friendliness: high chairs and kids meals available

Visit reviewed: 6/19/2012 & 9/7/2012

Part Alice in Wonderland, part vintage shop, part cafe makes up the whole of Love Lovely, another new cafe making its mark in Taipei's East District.

Opened earlier this summer, Love Lovely's lovely decor has already landed it on a new book about, what else, Taipei cafes. I was invited to check it out by my friend before they soft opened, but the menu has since been revamped, so I'll be writing about my most recent visit.

The store section of Love Lovely serves as a living room counterpart to the restaurant's roomy dining area, with a large white bookcase and long tables filled with treasures to Instagram about. All of the items are handpicked by the owner and brought over from Europe. There are no price tags or obvious way of knowing that things are for sale, so if something catches your eye, just ask (though some pieces are actually just for decor as part of the owner's collection and not for sale).

The vintage pieces feel quite classic and modern, or is it that what's old becomes new again? Love Lovely's vibe is more Anthropologie than Antique Roadshow. I haven't really seen the hybrid shop/cafe model in the states, but in Taipei, the eclectic VVG restaurants and Whiple House come to mind.

Lots of charm in the small detail in everything, from the menus covered with vintage newspaper articles to the napkins and letterpress paper coasters bearing the hand drawn illustrations that seemed to have escaped a tea party from Lewis Carroll.

The English and Chinese menu features mostly Western fare, with salads, pastas, chef specials and desserts. Lunch and dinner sets are available, that include choice of sparkling water, glass of red or white wine, coffee or tea with an additional NT$70.

There's also Little Princess Mermaid or Little Price Ranger meals for the kids (with the sets costing more than the adult fare. Haha!)

The Dutch baby definitely caught my eye and I made sure to order the oven pancake with carmelized apple before my meal was over.

I had to start off with the truffle fries (NT$180) which I devoured on my first visit.

I wanted to try the quiche, but it had unfortunately been reserved by another big group to serve the whole pie with a candle atop instead of birthday cake, so I had to pick something else. The Nicoise salad (NT$230) had big chunks of potato, hardboiled eggs, and sprinklings of tuna, olives and baby corn.

The set menus came with a cup of soup- it was a broth of something or another.

I really enjoyed the black and white fried calamari (NT$210), which had some pieces breaded in squid ink batter to give an eye catching appearance. The serving basket for this and the truffle fries are fun.

We all also talked ourselves into getting the Frozen coconut mojito, which was inspired by the signature drink from The Modern Honolulu hotel. I had no idea what it was until it arrived to the table, but food je t'aime was quite excited, having had the real thing before in Hawaii.

Coconut rum + lime juice + fresh mint + ice = mojito smoothie- Now this is definitely the way to have a lunch.

I wasn't as crazy about the sauteed mushrooms and shrimp (NT$150) as I was about the other appetizers.

Bolognese Tomato Meat Sauce Spaghetti (NT$280/set)

My cousin is a VIP customer at Love Lovely, so she was able to talk them into making her favorite dish from the dinner menu, the shortrib steak for us. I would definitely order this again, it was nicely grilled and tender with that shortrib chewiness.

Before we were done eating, I wanted to make sure to order the dessert so we weren't waiting too long while it was baking and made to order. The oven pancake with apples is definitely a must try and is quite large. It probably can be shared with at least 4-6 people- we had three and barely made a dent. The pancake was fluffy and slightly crispy on the edges and is basically a dessert yorkshire pudding (if you've had that at Lawry's). It's more eggy than sweet and tastes more like a fluffy cream puff shell than an American pancake, and serves as a crust to the carmelized apples. I'd definitely order this again, and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream next time.

I think I'm going to have to try making this at home sometime.

So whether you're browsing for random pieces from Paris to put on your bookshelf or a place to linger for afternoon tea (for scones, cupcakes, whoopie pies or tea), wander over to the alley near Lane 216/Yanji St to find Love Lovely.


Anonymous said...

Joannh, was that pastry called also Dutch Baby ? It indeed easy to make. I felt cram in that place need somewhere else more space.


Bryan said...

i think i know you... im from van and i went to UC berkeley...

X.x dying to know if i know you LOL

Bryan said...

btw im currently studying in taipei.. haha -___-"

joanh said...

@Helen - really? i thought it was pretty roomy. Yes the dutch baby is called oven pancake on the menu

@Bryan- are you from Vancouver? what year did you graduate Berkeley? we might not know each other...

Anonymous said...

I was there JUST for the apple pancake only to find out that they only serve it from 2-4pm (on weekends only, too?) and only 5 servings per day. I've never hearch such limitations for a dish before. Unfortunately, we decided to leave because all the other things on their menu was just like any other brunch place we could find in Taipei.

Bryan said...

yea from van. i gradded 2012 from berkeley. studying med at 國防醫學院.

joanh said...

anonymous- that is definitely annoying.. if i go back, i'll let them know because i do think that the apple pancake is a big draw for them. too bad you didn't get to try it

bryan- nope, i don't think we know each other! :)

Bryan said...

well since you're from toronto, you feel like hanging out with some of my canadian friends? =P we're always looking for good places to eat in taipei lol..

Greg Hao said...

Permanently closed. :-X

joanh said...

@bryan- haha I just saw this. I'm not from Toronto! I'm from LA!

@greg- thanks for the update! Rip Love Lovely

Greg Hao said...

@joanh - as i go through your archives looking for places to eat/hang, sadly, probably expect more updates.