Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Restaurants: La Terrasse 馨坊小館

Address: 1-2, Lane 222 Dunhua N Rd, Taipei (台北市敦化北路222巷1-2號)
Telephone:(02) 2717-2525
Open: 12pm to 2:30pm, 6pm to 10:30pm
Average meal: lunch NT$500, dinner NT$1,000
Details: English and French menu, credit cards accepted

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The golden colors of duck leg confit stimulate the appetite.

PHOTO: BY YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES

Among the many French restaurants in Taipei, La Terrasse is one of a few that specializes in southwestern French delicacies, like duck and goose dishes.

As its name suggests, the restaurant features a pleasant terrace filled with beautiful flowers and herbs grown by the hostess Jocelyn Wang (王昭英). The al fresco area is probably the best place to enjoy lunch on a nice sunny day, but inside the house is just as cozy. The furniture is Chinese antique while the food is authentic French fare, which effectively represents the house's host. Owner Claude Soucaille hails from Carcassonne, the historical town in southwestern France, while his wife Wang has been in the Chinese antique business for many years.

Despite the questionable manner in which the birds are stuffed, it is difficult to resist the fine and rich taste of duck meat from this region. The most popular dish at this 10 month-old restaurant is duck leg confit with sauteed potatoes (NT$480).

This dish takes 28 hours to prepare and only experienced chefs know how to get it right. Joseph Lee (李東禧), chef of the house, cut his teeth at the Ritz Landis Hotel, which owns the most famous French restaurant in Taipei. He marinates the fat, meaty duck leg in garlic, mixed herbs, black pepper and salt for one whole day, and then simmers the meat with duck fat for four hours ("confit" means slow simmer with fat and oil). The potatoes are also sauteed in onion and garlic and then simmered with the duck oil. This ensures the dish's rich flavor. Before the duck leg is served, it is lightly roasted which strains out the oil and gives a crispy texture to the skin. Just to see the golden colors of the duck makes the mouth water.

In winter, the house presents another delicious southwestern French dish called lingot bean stew with sausage and duck confit.

Duck breast with green pepper sauce is another delectable sauteed duck dish. The duck breast is thick and slightly crispy on top, while the sauce is rich but with a hint of wine flavor.

The veal with moreal cream sauce is also impressive. Soucaille explains that his hometown is famous for its mushrooms. And this dish features the rich flavor of morel mushrooms. It's not as up-scale as Truffle, but it's equally delicious, especially with the veal.

La Terrasse also features a wide range of cheeses (Brie to St. Nectaire to Rocquefort, to name a few) and wines ranging in price from NT$1,150 to NT$7,000 per bottle.

Desserts here are the items that Wong and Soucaille are very proud of. All desserts are homemade and there are at least six items on the menu, the highlights being banana flambee with brandy and the orange crepes with orange liqueur and vanilla ice cream.

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