Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: Cheers at the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Address: 1F, 2 Songshou Rd, Taipei (台北市松壽路2號1樓)
Telephone: (02) 2720-1234
Open: 11:30am to 12:30am on weekdays; 11:30am to 1:30am on weekends
Average meal: NT$500 to NT$900
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards accepted

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Where East and West, and a number of other twains, meet.

PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAND HYATT TAIPEI

Cheers inside the Grand Hyatt has been feeding casual diners and irrigating business travelers for 16 years. That's an eternity in the life of a Taipei bar and restaurant; and the feel of this one had grown a bit dated, even if its location in a five-star hotel between the World Trade Center and Taipei 101 always guaranteed a steady stream of new faces.

So Cheers took a six-week vacation and emerged last Saturday with a new theme, a new look and a new menu. The aim was to change things just enough to appeal to a younger clientele without scaring away the old customers. The result was described in a press release handed to journalists at a preview lunch as “casual yet loungy, designed yet homey, contemporary yet classic” — and that's a fairly accurate assessment.

“We've been working on this for a long time. This was one of the final projects to accomplish the renovation of the (hotel's) food and beverage operation,” said Olivier Lenoir, food and beverage director at the Grand Hyatt Taipei. He felt “it came out really nice. Very fresh but not too modern.”

The concept behind the redesign is “East meets West.” For the food this means a multicultural blend, not California-style fusion, with selections as diverse as Taiwanese beef noodle soup (NT$420) and Western sandwiches like the croque monsieur (NT$420) and steak sandwich “poor boy” on sourdough loaf (NT$460).

Asian elements predominate in the interior design, with maple and blood-wash finishes, red pillows on couches, and the use of rice paper in a textured arch behind the bar so that that it doesn't stand out during the daytime. Designer Celia Chu (朱怡芬) also made the bar narrower, she said, to encourage conversation between patrons and bartenders.

The changes are likely to disrupt the patterns of longtime guests only in a good way, as the layout and mood remain largely the same. In addition to sampling new items on the menu, other reasons to rediscover Cheers include plush booth seating along the walls and a new outdoor terrace.

Business travelers who find themselves disoriented by Cheers' new look will quickly find their bearings when presented with the drink menu, which now includes more than 40 single malts (NT$300 to NT$1,200 per glass). And smokers can still light up in Cheers, the only bar or restaurant inside the Grand Hyatt where this is still allowed.

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