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Taipei Fine Dining: Le Jardin January 5, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Food, Taiwan, Travel.
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Restaurant: Le Jardin
Food: Western-style Fine Dining
Address: Lane 70, Section 6, Zhōng Xiào East Rd, Nangang District
Opening: Tuesday-Sunday 11:20am-10:00pm
Contact: (02) 27852556, 27850023 (reservations recommended)
Prices: Lunch specials from TWD 180 – 380; Set dinner meals from TWD 450 – TWD 1200 (appetizer, bread, soup, salad, main course and dessert) + 10% service charge
Web: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/jardin2005 (English menu on left panel)

With so many ridiculously cheap eats in Taipei, it may come as a surprise to some that ‘fine dining’ is also very popular.

By fine dining I am referring primarily to the atmosphere – ie a nice, well-furbished restaurant with proper cutlery (as opposed to the disposable type) and presentable menus.  Prices are substantially higher than your regular street vendor but will in all likelihood still compare very favourably to counterparts in Western countries.

One such restaurant I visited is Le Jardin, a pretty little establishment in the Nangang district of Taipei.

Rainy night outside Le Jardin

There aren’t a whole lot of seats inside, probably enough for 25-30 people at most.  On this night, there were 3 or 4 other tables, mostly family gatherings.  There is only one toilet, but it is surprisingly big, clean and quite classy.

(Click on ‘More…’ to read the rest of the review and see the food pics!)

We skipped straight to the dinner sets in the menu, which are the most value for money.  The unique thing about Le Jardin is that they offer special set courses for special occasions – eg Christmas, New Year, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, etc).  As usual, I went with the normal courses (because if the specials were so good they’d be in the regular menu).  Each dinner set comes with bread, soup, appetizers, a main course and a dessert.  Each course is quite small, but when added up it’s all very filling.  As you will see below, the food is served on big plates and stone platters, Western-style.

The bread came with pesto spread and fresh tomatoes, which make a mean combo

The bread came with self-serve pesto spread and fresh tomatoes, which make a mean combo

The salad was crisp with a tangy dressing

The appetizers included a bacon and olive skewer, salmon + leaves on cracker and a fruit vinegar

As you may have noticed, I forgot to take a photo of the soup!  Out of the four non-main course dishes, the best would have to be the bread with pesto spread and tomatoes.  I was told the soup was a ‘carrot’ soup, but the colour and taste suggested to me that it was probably pumpkin.  The appetizer was a little disappointing as I am not a big fan of bacon or vinegar, though the flavours do complement each other quite well.

The Scallop Grouper Roll with Shrimp Roes and Butter Sauce

The Grilled Lamp Chop with Yuzu Pepper served with Seasonal Vegetables

The Grilled Lamb Chops with Yuzu Pepper served with Seasonal Vegetables

Pan Fried Chicken served with Herbal Tomato Sauce

This is a 'special' - Beef Fillet

The main I ordered was the scallop roll, though I did get a taste of the other ones.  And I believe the scallop roll was the best of the lot – the roll virtually melting in your mouth and the prawns fresh and juicy.

All the mains were of a decent standard – very Western, with almost no Asian influence in the flavours.  However, while they were all quite tasty, none of them blew me away.

Looks like ice cream but it's actually dark and white chocolate brownie

Looks like ice cream but it's actually dark and white chocolate brownie

Fruit Custard

Blackcurrant Mousse

I was full by the time I polished off the mains, but there was still dessert.  On this night, there were three to choose from.  I went with the fruit custard but tried the other two, and I must say the brownie was a surprise hit, by far the best of the lot.  The blackcurrant mousse didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Verdict

A solid little restaurant with great atmosphere, great for group or family gatherings.  The service is excellent, though on this night it was a bit on the slow side.  The quality of the food is high, good enough for a romantic night out, but doesn’t quite match up to its fine dining counterparts from Australia or Europe.  Just for the food, I rate it 7 out of 10!

Getting there

Le Jardin is a little out of the way for tourists but getting there is actually very easy.

Le Jardin is only a short walk from Houshanpi MRT Station

The easiest way there by public transport is to take the blue line on the MRT (for route map see here) and get off at Houshanpi Station (where the Wufenpu wholesale clothing markets are).  Take either exits 3 or 4 , and it’s a 2-3 minute walk from there.  We took exit  and walked through the open-air car park (you can actually see the Le Jardin sign from there).

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