Monday, July 29, 2013

CLOSED/brunch/american: i recommend PIG & PEPPER

No. 15, Lane 295, FuXing S. Rd.
(02) 2708-7899

MRT: ZhongXiao/FuXing

hours: 11AM - 10PM


Kid friendliness: high chairs available

Visit reviewed: 11/24/2012 & 1/2/2013

One doesn't have to look far for American or Western restaurants in Taipei-- there's the ubiquitous brunch and burger type, the pizza and pasta type, the familiar chain restaurant (sit down or fast food) type, the fancy upscale type... the list could go on and on. So where does "New American cuisine" Pig and Pepper fit in?

Located not too far from the DaAn station, Pig and Pepper greets you with a bright yellow door to let us know we're at the right place.

Inside is inviting with seating areas broken off into different areas, with large groups sitting near the front window section.

For my first visit, I was surprised that my aunt chose Pig and Pepper for a family brunch especially since I had been meaning to try it out (which she didn't know). She had seen it featured in one of the popular Taiwan weeklys, so it's encouraging that the menu is appealing to locals as well. For my second visit, I rounded up a group of friends to try out a new place, lured by the promise of truffled mac and cheese.

You could do a scavenger hunt of the pigs decorating the restaurant in paintings along the walls.

So back to my question... where does Pig and Pepper fit in? While there is brunch, and there is pasta, Pig and Pepper is a bit out of the box, offering New American cuisine to Taipei tastebuds. Opened by two sisters who moved back from Los Angeles to Taipei, Pig and Pepper is a bright spot in Taipei's restaurants featuring American fare. The menu boasts a range of crowd pleasing dishes that is a "contemporary, upscale" take of both American comfort foods and "melting pot" dishes. There is no where else I can think of in Taipei that offers truffled mac and cheese, or polenta.

Brunch menu offers dishes like green frittata or corn beef hash, while lunch menu includes salads, pastas and an open faced burger with fried egg and fries. The dinner menu features tapas and different things altogether like steak with fried oysters, shrimp and grits and duck confit sandwich. 

Some of my favorite things from Pig and Pepper were the salads- though they were all different, I loved them all. Good size for the price and plentiful fresh ingredients topping the greens.

Warm mushroom salad with pecorino and hazelnut (NT$280) - I loved that the sauteed mushrooms were served warm and the large slivers of pecorino cheese gives the salad a nice sharp accent.

I also really enjoyed the Sirloin Steak Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette (NT$350). I think the portion is generous for the price and this could be a meal on its own. The tender steak, crispy onions and spicy horseradish dressing complement each other. Reminds a little of the salad from Lawry's Carvery. My pet peeve is a salad where you can't find the ingredients especially when you pay extra for them (take note, Dressed)

Can't go wrong with proscuitto and candied walnuts in the Chef House Salad (NT$250)

We couldn't resist ordering some of the sides to share, like the truffled parmesan tots (NT$180), a grown up version of the tater tots I used to get from the school cafeteria. I splurged on them on repeat visits, though be warned they are on the small side for the price.

And both versions of the mac cheese- Bacon mac and cheese (NT$180) and Truffle mac and cheese (NT$180). If you could only pick one, skip the bacon version, go with the truffles. 

Thanks to all my girlfriends who wait to dig in until I get my beauty shots at each lunch and love to eat as much as I do, so that I can try different dishes like I did at this lunch. Luckily we had ordered things to share family style as things came out rather slowly from the kitchen, one dish by one- but note this was over six months ago since my last visit when they were still fairly new, so perhaps they've sped it up since then.

One of my favorite brunch dishes at Pig and Pepper was the Braised Beef Hash with Poached Egg and Toasted Bread (NT$360). I can never resist a poached egg and the fork tender potatoes and beef were addicting.

The French Toast with Berry Compote and Whipped Mascarpone (NT$260) was good, though I wish they'd serve it with some honey or maple syrup or even berry sauce on the side. When we asked about it, the server replied we were to just use the mascarpone and berries. 


 I also enjoyed the creamy Parmesan Polenta Cake with Grilled Vegetables and Poached Egg (NT$360), though I think this is more a side dish than a main. You also pay a premium for this rare-for-Taipei dish. 

The Open Faced Burger with Fried Egg and Fries (NT$390) is definitely meant to be eaten with a fork and knife and is a cheesy mess. A good guy's dish and you can steal the waffle fries.

Personally, I'd skip the tacos since I can get my fix elsewhere for less, but my friends wanted to try them. Three grilled chicken soft tacos (NT$360) come with a side of yellow rice and lettuce and some tomato and green chili condiments. I don't really care for yellow rice- I have never seen them at any taco shops or Mexican restaurants that I've eaten in the states and I don't know why it's so pervasive in Taipei- at both the localized Mexican and Indian spots.

The Carnitas Soft Tacos (NT$360) have a bit more meat in them.

The Pulled Pork Sandwich (NT$360) looked like nothing that I imagined that it would, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the pulled pork tasted very similar to the pork in the tacos (if not the exact same thing but repurposed). It might remind some of a Vietnamese sandwich with the french bread roll and julienned carrots and radishes and cilantro, which is kind of an interesting take. Not a bad order, just don't expect a Southern pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw.

The Pork Bolognese Spaghetti with Poached Egg and Parmesean (NT$360) was a good rendition of the classic and the poached egg atop reminded me of Bellini's spaghetti (though Bellini's version is sweeter and saucier with the soft boiled egg less well done).

I wasn't crazy about the braised beef with butter garlic noodles (NT$390)- I found the dish to be too heavily seasoned for me.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the New York Street Style Spiced Chicken and Rice (NT$390) since I haven't eaten the real thing (and again am not a huge fan of yellow rice which was a main component of the dish), but a lot of my friends at the table dug it up, especially with the hot sauce mixed in.

Onto desserts! On my second visit, we had to try the new Funnel Cake which is probably my favorite dessert of the bunch since it's not something you'd find in Taipei. Though I appreciate the gourmet, glamour version with ice cream and layers of custard in between, I felt like the funnel cake had cooled down while it was being primped.  I'd love to see an option to order a plain funnel cake, just simply dusted with powdered sugar, so that I could eat it piping hot. 

I thought I'd love the Zepolli with dipping sauce and vanilla ice cream (NT$260), but I found the fried donuts a tad oily for my tastes.

Homemade cheesecake with seasonal fruit (NT$220)

Sticky fig toffee cake with peanut ice cream (NT$220)

So the next time you're craving a steak salad or tater tots or truffled mac and cheese or funnel cake, you know where to go (and where to say you heard about it when you make your reservations!) I may have to head back there soon to have some myself.


Anonymous said...

Hi Hungry Girl,
If you go to SFO, you should try Katy's Place Egg benedict. It's the best egg benedict I ever tried. There are 12 different types of eggs benedict, great coffee, wonderful french toast and great service. Everything is homemade, fresh, and healthy.Highly recommended!

Anonymous said...

Revised: There are 16 different types of egg benedict.

Unknown said...


I'm Steven Crook, author of Taiwan: The Bradt Travel Guide, and I'd like to ask you a few questions about your blog, which I'd like to mention in the second edition of the guide. I can be reached at stevencolincrook [at] gmail [dot] com, and hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes,


Charles said...

If we're comparing to places in SF, I'd definitely have to nominate Red Door or Plow. If Pig & Pepper is comparable, then I'm heading there this weekend!

Unknown said...

Hello HG,

I read your article and was anxious to try! I asked a friend to join and unfortunately it was a Monday, turns out they are closed! I've sent their FB page a note. They told me it states it. I think since then they made an adjustment stating on Monday's "closed until tomorrow". It's close enough to me that I will still try.

Chuck said...

Food was meh. Service was even worse.

After waiting for an hour for my wife's funnel cake, we asked the waitress to check with the kitchen to see when it'd be ready. The waitress came back and said 20 minutes more. So...20 minutes later, we asked the waitress again about the funnel cake. She looked pissed off that we had asked her about the order and literally said "I told you that it would be 20 minutes." The funny thing is...we waited for over 90 minutes for the funnel cake and the waitress NEVER APOLOGIZED for the wait.

In short, I do not recommend this place.

talktomytoes said...

Hello Chuck, I'm sorry you did not have a good experience at Pig & Pepper. We will continue to make improvements. thank you for your comment.

Nicole said...

Ok, why do I feel like none of these amazing restaurants existed back when I used to live in Taiwan?? The food, especially the tater tots, looks so good. How unfair.

Anonymous said...

Food is great but pricey for serving size. 10% service charge for next-to-nil service.

I went there for brunch with some girlfriends today. While the meals and dessert were good, they weren't very filling (this is INCLUDING dessert). The service throughout the meal was fine, it was when we went to get the bill that the experience came tumbling down. First of all, the cashier refused to split the bill. He said it was too difficult to split the bill between 5 people. For real? I'm surprised that the LA owners didn't have the foresight to cater to split billing...and if they do, they should tell the boy with the funky hair to stop blaming the machine or his inability to calculate the bill manually and just DO his job.

TravellingAK said...

Having just moved to Taiwan (finally!) I can't help but notice how it seems like "Brunch" is the buzzworld; At least in Taichung where I live there is a place advertising Brunch in every corner, more or less. If what they call brunch is what would be called Brunch in the western world remains to be seen though - never hte less it is interesting to see how popular brunch seem to be. Thanks for posing, I may check out Pig and Pepper next time I am in Taipei. It seems pricy but sometimes it's worth spending a little extra.

Anonymous said...

I read this blog and went to this restaurant. I thought the food was quite terrible. Grisly beef. Watery mashed potatoes. Cheap noodles. Overpriced. We complained to the chef to no avail. Maybe it's because I have high expectations for "New American" cuisine. Anyway.

Anonymous said...

Agree, went there yesterday and the food was terrible. We had the Pig and Pepper Egss Benedict and the Potatoe Beef. Not worth going there again.

Anonymous said...

Any good Vegetarian choices? I am fine with eggs and dairy.
will be in Taipei Dec 19-24

Robert Johnson

Henry said...

Me and my friend tried this place out for brunch today and had quite a mixed feeling on the service and food. While food is not bad, the management style was one thing we didnt quite appreciated. There were far too many unfriendly rule. There's minimum charge per person ((but this is a neighborhood eatery not a fine dining restaurant).tThen, heres a 90 minute dining time restriction (Hey, this is not a buffet or eat-all you can restaurant). And, there's a cortège fee charged not by the bottle but per person which I found ridiculous.

The owner-chef later explained that this is a policy derived to deal with the local context, we still found the restaurants, with all these "disccrimitive" measures unfriendly. Or, at least reflecting that the management does not have a welcoming heart to guests and might best described as "小家子氣」. We really believe that if we ever not coming back, ithis uneasy feeling must have had been the major call.

The 3 of us ended up today spening around NT$2700 for 3 main dishes and a bottle of Savingnon Blanc. And we spent about 1.5 hour on our brunch. With or without the unpleasant rules, I am sure quality clients would spend about as much money on food and time on the place, so why putting up such irritating measures?