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Monday, April 07, 2014

CLOSED! brunch/dessert: i strongly recommend LES BEBES CAFE


No. 10, Lane 295, DunHua S. Rd, Sec. 1
(02) 2784-7460

CLOSED a/o 2015

MRT: ZhongXiao/DunHua

website: Les Bebes' FB page

hours:  M-F 11:30AM- 9PM; weekends 10AM- 9PM (saturday until 10PM)


Kid friendliness: no high chairs available. Kids will love cupcakes and minis, and pastas and finger foods available

Visits reviewed: 5/10/2013, 9/4/2013, 1/2014 & 2/13/2014; 4/4/2014

I love Les Bebes' cupcakes. Love. So I definitely had to check it out when I heard last year that Les Bebes had opened up a new cafe/bakery in the DaAn district near DunHua/RenAi (neighboring Bianco and the also new to eastside Season). And I've gone back again and again, and finally finished up writing this post to share with you.

The bright, sunny vibe that was at the original cupcake shop is echoed and expanded at the cafe location. Even though the cupcakes are front and center of the shop, there a whole menu to be eaten at the cafe's roomy seating hidden in the back.

Don't mistake it as "just a cupcake shop" as my friend recently did and miss out on the great food.

It's been almost a year since my first visit to Les Bebes Cafe and with Les Bebes' founder Elaine at the helm, I feel like it's grown so much and the menu is constantly evolving and getting refined. There's a new brunch menu I'm especially excited about, with fried chicken and cornbread.

The lunch menu focuses on salads, sandwiches, pastas and a new brunch menu, while the dinner menu has more risottos/pasta and entrees like cajun spiced salmon or roasted spring chicken. Cupcakes anytime of the day. While the menu is on the pricier side, everything is made in house with quality over quantity with flavor profiles and combinations that you might find at fancier restaurants.

Everyone gets a complimentary mini espresso cup of the soup of the day to start and always leaves me wanting more. I think these were beet soup, pumpkin soup and pea with mint. 

I love how the salads at Les Bebes Cafe have a mix of hearty, housemade ingredients that are hard to find in Taipei, where you usually just find caesar or greens with japanese vinaigrette. 

What to order? The Provence salad (NT$410) is a MUST ORDER. With balsamic glazed roast vegetables piled atop the plate with a dash of buckwheat salsa, there's a lot of contrasting textures and flavors that not only tastes good but is good for you. The pumpkin is so sweet with a caramelized skin, there's roasted peppers, tofu, baby corn, bamboo, mushroom, zucchini, even roasted baby cabbage. I haven't found a roasted vegetable salad like this anywhere else in Taipei, so I order this every time I come. It's also vegetarian friendly and deceptively filling, even if you share it.

Be sure to try the grilled baby romaine and the meaty mushroom. SO good.

I crave this salad.  I have to order this every time, which makes it hard to try new things on the menu, but bring friends and share plates.

I also liked the Tomato Confit Salad (NT$430) with sundried tomatoes, house pickled tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and tomato confit as well as slices of tender roasted pork loin hidden underneath the Mizuna greens and arugula. Crispy lotus root slices instead of croutons. 

My dad's ahi tuna salad with couscous and poached egg LBB Signature Salad (NT$440) comes with a light citrus dressing.

It's funny to note the difference from the first visit in May 2013 where the egg was scrambled (photo below) instead of poached. 

The new brunch menu is definitely worth trying. I loved both the crispy Fried Chicken and Cornbread (NT$430) and the Petite French Toast (NT$400), which comes with two options.

Two pieces of fried chicken with ultra crispy skin, a few potato wedges, salad and a nice hunk of cornbread. Don't forget to spread the maple butter on top of the cornbread. Yum.

The Petite French Toast (NT$400) with bacon, banana and salted caramel drizzle is practically a dessert. The french toast is cut into sticks which makes it easy to share and dip into the airy salted caramel whipped cream. Every piece is topped with bacon and banana and perfect for those who enjoy the savory sweet combination. The other french toast option includes a side of hash brown sausage and brown butter apples.

As someone on Instagram commented, almost looks like a stack of bbq ribs! 

I also love the pastas here - they aren't too heavy and while they are on the smaller side, they are pretty filling.  Both the olive pesto seafood and the sausage carbonara are delicious. The rosemary sausage carbonara farfalle (NT$400), which has layers of flavors with the arugula, fresh parmesan cheese and sausage along with the creamy carbonara sauce. It's a kid friendly dish if you pick out the dots of red peppercorn or order it without.

The seafood olive pesto farfalle (NT$400) had a briny savoriness that was different from typical basil pesto and perfect with the clams and chopped squid. It was my first time seeing pesto made from olives and I loved it. And the fresh parmesan shavings atop- try to scoop some into every bite.

The appetizers tended to be on the smaller side for the price (NT$120-280), so I'd skip them and save room for cupcakes instead. But if you were to order them- my favorite out of the bunch was the smoked salmon & roe dip (NT$260), my least favorite the fried calamari (NT$270) because of the size for the price.

Bread and taramasalata dip (NT$260)- focaccia slices with creamy smoked salmon and roe dip

Bread and vegetable dip (NT$180) 

The house made LBB potato chips (NT$150) are addictive with the house made shallot aioli. 

Calamari (NT$270) - much smaller than expected portion for the price. 

I also was pleasantly surprised by the Cranberry Cheese Chicken sandwich (NT$400). It isn't something that I'd typically order off the menu at first glance, but I'm glad Les Bebes' owner Elaine suggested I try when I met her the second time I visited. It's like Thanksgiving in a sandwich, though it's house cured chicken rather than turkey. The creaminess of the camembert cheese married with the crunch of the apple slices and walnuts alone would be great and then you get the sweetness of the cranberry sauce and the spiciness of the arugula- it's great.

My friend's Chili Burger (NT$490), the chili unexpectedly on the side. One of the more "guy" things on the menu.

Some unique coffees to try that sound almost like cupcake flavors- like Iced Lemon Coffee, Pink Rose Salt Latte or Honey Banana Coffee. 

Always so hard to decide which flavors to get, but my favorites are the popular red velvet with cream cheese frosting and the chocolate with peanut butter frosting. There's also a a few unique flavors with matcha green tea, earl gray, carrot cake, salted caramel banana chocolate, chocolate cream pie and lemon pie.

Cupcakes come in regular and babycakes sizes and come in adorable boxes to take home once you pick them out. Otherwise you can pick some to eat with your meal or for afternoon tea. But you find yourself, like me, coming back for the food and not just the dessert. Salads and cupcakes, what's not to love. 


Matthew said...

Ok, I am a religious devotee to the cupcakery and this blog makes the cafe look amazing, but I have one question...

You ordered 13 different things that all cost 400$ per! This is more than a double $$.

joanh said...

Matthew- haha point taken. This post has pictures from three-four different meals, all with groups of 4-8 people. So if you are by yourself and order one dish, or different people share like we did, then averages $400? More if you order drinks or appetizers or cupcakes.