Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Restaurant: Orlando

Address: 44 Taishun St, Ln 2, Taipei(台北市泰順街2巷44號)
Telephone: 2369 2482
Open: Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday 11am to 12pm ; Friday and Saturday 12pm to 2am
Average meal: NT$400
Details: No credit cards, English and Chinese menu

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

Orlando's a gay place to dine.


Orlando is different from most of the restaurants serving set meals around the Shida Road area. Not just because the food is more imaginative than most of its competitors, the decor is a touch more tasteful and the service more courteous.

The main reason it is a little special is because it is a "lesbian restaurant." Opened less than a month ago by four women, two Chinese and a pair of foreigners, Orlando's predominant clientele is the smart gay population of the city and their straight friends.

Tuesday to Sunday, it opens for lunch and delivers a good set meal for NT$150 to NT$180 that ranges from fish dinners such as lemon fish steak and miso-flavored salmon, to lean pork cutlets and roast chicken. These meals come with a tangy soup, rice and vegetables, cold noodles and those ubiquitous diced carrot, corn and pea mixes. There is also Japanese-style ramen, pasta of the day, gratin casseroles and other appetizing dishes.

So, as a standard eatery, Orlando is a cut above the rest. But this is not all. After 8:30pm the place becomes a tapas bar, which fits in well with its generally laid-back atmosphere that is conducive to talk and idle contemplation. The tapas dishes are NT$80 each and the selection includes bruschetta, a fruit and cheese plate, polpette di carne, tortilla di patates and other Spanish staples.

All this should be washed down with draft Carlsberg, which is NT$100 for 250ml, or NT$180 for 250ml. House white and red wines from Italy are NT$780 for the bottle and available by the glass for NT$250.

The space is cozy and the dinner table tastefully decorated with homemade mosaics. Overall, the ambience is cheerful without being pretentious. The dominant impression is Taiwan-Continental.

One of the owners, Xiao Lai (小賴), spoke about changing attitudes toward the gay community in Taiwan and said the foreigners she met tended to be more welcoming of homosexuals. "They are more open. Taiwanese attitudes, especially in the past, were closed. We felt a bit uncomfortable and a little afraid.

"So, I think that to have a place like this is an important thing and is a measure of how we are becoming more accepted. The attitude and atmosphere here is good. There is a good feeling. This place provides an opportunity to make friends and have a small party. People bring their friends, for a mixed and sociable occasion," Lai said.

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