Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Restaurants: The Balcony

Address: Breeze Center, 2F, 39 Fuxing S Rd., Taipei (微風廣場台北市復興南路一段39號二樓)
Telephone: (02) 6600-8585
Open: 11am until 11pm. Kitchen closes at 9pm
Average meal: NT$600 for lunch; NT$1,000 for dinner
Details: Credit cards accepted. English menu available

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

There's something not right about eating grilled lamb chops in a mall.

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

Breeze Center is an unsettling place, a showcase for how not to design a mall and what to not put in it once it's built. Most of the stores are crowded onto one end that's topped by a multiplex theater. The other end is a sprawling gallery of high-end boutiques that each need 300m2 of floor space to sell 12 garments. At Breeze Center, socks can cost more than your rent. Yet, whereas some places have that Lifestyles-of-the-Rich-and-Famous feel that brings out the glitterati in the most hopelessly Gap-clad persons, Breeze Center just feels like an outlet mall. Sad, then, that it's the location of The Balcony.

The Balcony is settled on the far end of the mall atop an erstwhile parking garage and overlooks the mall's vast and vacuous courtyard where nothing has happened since the World Cup games were shown on a giant-screen TV. It's called The Balcony because that's what it is, but it has been enclosed under a retractable awning and shuttered by opaque plastic screens. Presumably the screens open for events taking place in the courtyard below. Look for screenings of the next World Cup games in 2006.

My first visit to The Balcony was a happy enough affair. I had a set meal of roasted lamb chops with mashed potatoes, broccoli and those tiny, tiny ears of corn, a lentil-and-cilantro soup, a fresh-fruit dessert and coffee. The whole thing started off with an appetizer of thinly sliced parma ham and mozzarella. Delicious, all of it. I could have made a meal out of the bread alone; slices of rye, wheat and French bread with a crispy crust and warm, soft middle served with regular and garlic butter melted slightly so that it was easy to spread. The waitress even opened my napkin for me.

My second visit was not as happy. I'd come shortly before the kitchen closed and, while my whole meal was delicious, the service staff seemed impatient and was clearing plates before I'd finished (This time my napkin was unfolded for me as if to hurry me along). It was then that the unsettled feeling I thought I'd left at the door came back. How could eating an otherwise delicious meal be such a bland experience?

The reason, I've determined, is The Balcony's location. Visiting a mall to enjoy a meal bastardizes the dining experience, as if to say "good food alone is not enough. I want some place where I can shop and take in a movie -- some place with ample parking, too!" It's the McDonalds-isation of culture for the well-heeled. Were it elsewhere, I might be lured back again. As it is, it's maybe a good place to take in as part of the 2006 World Cup.

This story has been viewed 3683 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top