Fri, Oct 03, 2003 - Page 15 News List

Restaurants: Les Amis (Nitti's Jr.)

Address: 22 Da'an Rd, Ln 84, Taipei(台北市大安路84巷22號)
Telephone: (02) 2752 8251
Open: Sunday to Thursday 11am to 11pm; Friday and Saturday until 1am; closed Mondays
Average meal: NT$600 per person, dinner; NT$300, brunch and lunch, plus 10 percent sevice charge.
Details: Credit cards accepted. Menu in Chinese and English

By David Momphard  /  STAFF REPORTER

Grilled tenderloin with wine liver pate: like Grandma used to make?

PHOTO: DAVID MOMPHARD, TAIPEI TIMES

Mention "Western-style breakfast" and the next sentence out of anyone's mouth will likely contain the name "Grandma Nitti." The restaurant has become an institution and its owner, Rainbow Lin (林虹慧), a surrogate mother to every stray cat, dog and foreigner that walks down her lane. In the 15 years that she's been flipping omelets, her restaurant has spawned others; both G'Day Cafe and Dolce Vita were started by former Grandma kitchen staff. Now she's added to her empire of eateries with Les Amis, a French-cuisine cafe tucked in an alley south of Zhongxiao E Rd and west of Da'an Rd.

By way of comparison, Les Amis' interior maintains the same earthy charm as Grandma Nitti's, though much smaller. Like Grandma's, Les Amis also hopes to capitalize on a Western-style weekend brunch. But there the comparison stops. By contrast, Les Amis' menu is up-market of Grandma's while remaining relatively inexpensive considering the area in which the restaurant is located.

Anyone who wonders what happened to the quality of Grandma's home cooking need look no farther than Tiger, Grandma's former chef who left a few years ago to start Dolce Vita. Rainbow has since caught Tiger by the tail and pulled him into the kitchen at Les Amis, where he's created a menu that could put Grandma into retirement.

Appetizers (NT$100 to NT$280) range from fresh fruit with a brandy dressing; fried shrimp and mushrooms; a tomato and onion salad with mozzarella and Dijon mustard, and an excellent Caesar chicken salad with diced tomatoes, almonds and a pinch of pesto on the chicken. A selection of pastas and potato dishes (NT$280) includes seafood stew and baked mushrooms under a cheddar cheese blanket, fish fillet with linguine and shrimp pesto and herb chicken with linguine and wild mushrooms. For an entree (NT$380 to NT$620), choose from pan-fried sea bass with fruit sauce, grilled ribeye with basil, salmon in a spicy sauce, grilled rack of lamb in a black olive sauce or a delicious grilled tenderloin with wine liver pate. A wide selection of coffees and teas, served either hot or iced are also on offer. Tip: Try a cup of Blue Mountain coffee with a chocolate truffle.

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