Monday, October 10, 2016

american: I recommend SPROUT

No. 33, Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 7, Tianmu
(02) 2876-6080

MRT: Shipai

hours: 8:30-21:30

website: Sprout's Facebook page

price: $$-$$$ (NT$300-500/person)

kid friendliness: kid's menu and dishware available 

visit reviewed: 9/30/2016

Avocado and spinach grilled cheese sandwich. Roasted vegetable quinoa salad. Lemon ricotta pancakes. Feta spinach turkey burger. Spinach and turkey lasagna. The menu from Sprouts, a casual and busy cafe in Tianmu, reads like a menu from a restaurant in LA and one of the hardest things to do at Sprout is to decide which dish to try first. 

Serving up brunch, salads, sandwiches, pastas, smoothies and desserts, Sprout joins the latest wave of Taipei restaurants offering up American menus that were nearly nonexistent here just a few years ago. Pricing is on the higher side, but reasonable considering the portions, especially for the salads. Quite a few vegetarian friendly dishes as well as some unusual hot plates like jambalaya or Hungarian chicken.  Reservations recommended, especially for weekends. Customers are expected to place orders and pay first at the register, get a number and grab utensils, plates, cups, water, condiments at the self serve station in the center of the room. 

Self serving station

I was torn between a lot of things on the menu, but I decided to try the prime rib roast with caramelized onions sandwich (NT$400) and add the tomato soup and iced green tea for an extra (NT$120). The sandwich came with a choice of a side dish, which you can see at the counter, and I was happy with the roasted vegetables, though I wished the portion was slightly bigger.

Loved the tomato soup as it had the right amount of creaminess, sweetness and tomato sourness and it was a satisfying portion to lead into the meal. Hard to find a good tomato soup in Taipei, and I would definitely order this again (maybe along with the green monster grilled cheese sandwich).

I used to always order the french dip at 1Bite2go, but they've recently taken it off the menu. The prime rib sandwich version at Sprout might be even better than 1Bite2Go's,  as it came with a fat tomato slice and pickled onions on the side, along with the caramelized onions that were already with the beef. The provolone and horseradish also add some depth to the flavors, so you almost don't need the au jus, though I still found myself dipping pieces of the fluffy ciabatta into the sauce.

I enviously eyed the heaping bowls of salads my lunch meeting friends ordered- the mexican chicken and avocado salad (NT$360) came with chicken, corn, baby tomatoes and avocado on a pile of lettuce  and the roasted vegetable quinoa salad (NT$340) had a touch of crumbled feta cheese atop the roasted bell pepper, zucchini, carrots and tomatoes. Some of the restaurants in town have salads on their menus, but when it comes, there's no lettuce in sight, so it's great to see these American sized portions so you could potentially share dishes or pack half the salad to go for later. 

Scallops and salmon pasta in pesto sauce (NT$530) 

I wished I had saved room to try some of their desserts on the menu, like the caramel banana cream pie or the apple and maple cake, but I will have to make a return visit to try them then. I also wanted to try the breakfast smoothie bowl, which you can choose any smoothie and make it into a bowl topped with bananas, berries, chia seeds, coconut and granola. (NT$150 + price of smoothie) Otherwise, you could always swing by Dairy Queen which is right next door for a blizzard or ice cream sandwich. 

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