The recent closure of the WeCare chain of bakeries was a sad day for Taipei's bread-loving community. Living up to its name, WeCare offered a variety of healthy breads, many of which catered to vegetarians, and carefully listed the ingredients of each loaf on custom-made signs. Indeed, the franchise went a long way to disprove the claim that Taiwanese have a penchant for only sweet white bread.
Another testament to the change in local tastes is the recently opened Lugar Home Bread Bar. Not so much a bakery as it is a restaurant, Lugar offers a variety of quality homemade breads (ciabatta, focaccia, rye bread and croissants are NT$40 each) that are baked daily on the premises.
But that's not all. Complimenting the breads is a variety of sauces - actually spreads - that are either served on the side or inside two sizes of bread rolls for NT$25 and NT$45. In addition to the bread, it is clear that customers come to Lugar for the many spreads available.
On both days I ate at Lugar, the restaurant was packed with patrons armed with digital cameras, making pictures which presumably ended up on their blogs. The interior, with its white walls, olive couches and chic finishing is attractive, but it is the bread and sauces that will keep patrons coming back.
Lugar also features a dinner menu, again complimented by their sauces, that includes pastas (NT$200) and steaks (NT$500 for lunch and NT$800 for dinner). A variety of pastries and eclairs is also served.
The tomato tripe (NT$70) is a tangy spread with large chunks of offal mixed with tomatoes, a combination that is at once flavorful and complimentary to the rye bread with which it is served. For the less brave, the sausage with veal sauce (NT$60), a mayonnaise-based dip with a smoky flavor, is also excellent. The restaurant also features French snail, lamb and pesto sauces (all NT$70), and salsa and salmon sauces (both NT$40).
Address: 3, Ln 49, Anhe Rd Sec 1, Taipei (台北市安和路一段49巷3號)
Telephone: (02) 2771-7577
Open: Daily, 7am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$400
Details: Menu in Chinese and English; major credit cards accepted
Lugar sauces are also the main condiment for most burgers. We tried the German sausage with veal sauce and duck breast burger with balsamic honey sauce (NT$180). Though the five-grain submarines the sandwiches were served on were fresh, the amount of veal sauce added to the German sausage seemed to be making up for the small size of the bratwurst and the lack of veggies. The balsamic honey sauce, on the other hand, was a delicious mixture and complimented the taste of the duck.