LOVE LOVELY 美好生活古董行
No. 3, Lane 345, Alley 4, RenAi Rd., Sec. 4
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.
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.
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.