Bakeries serving a variety of German, Italian and French breads are becoming increasingly common and up-market grocery stores are going out of their way to sell cheese and cold meats from around the world, but a deli worthy of the name has yet to be found in the capital.
Fresca Deli Cafe, which opened in April, is trying to fill the gap. Conveniently located across from Taipower Building MRT Station, Exit 5 (台電大樓捷運站5號出口), the interior looks more country kitchen restaurant than deli. The clean and comfortable interior suffers from orange and brown hues that escaped from the 1970s. Like a true deli, though, there are large display cases and a kitchen behind them where sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes are made.
The deli offers four freshly baked breads - croissant, bagel, focaccia and Munich bread - for their sandwiches, and that's where the creativity ends. The peppercorn roast beef and salami sandwiches (both NT$100) were passable but insubstantial creations that required a side salad and soup (add NT$30 for each) to satisfy. My waitress recommended cream of seafood soup, which was homemade and the meal's highlight.
In a place with marinated whole olives (NT$100/100g), kalamata olives (NT$155/100g), marinated mushrooms (NT$155/100g), diced, sun-dried tomatoes (NT$120/100g) and char-grilled zucchini and eggplant (NT$125/100g), to name just a few of the gourmet goodies in the deli case, one would expect a little pizzazz with the sandwiches. But what's in the deli case stays in the case, unless you order it to go.
"Taiwanese people don't eat these kinds of things," was the response I got when I inquired why these items were left off the menu.
Address: 126-2, Roosevelt Rd Sec 3, Taipei City
Telephone: (02) 2364-8377
Open: Daily from 7:30am to 9pm
Average meal: NT$150
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted
One would also expect that the pasta on the menu, ranging from pesto (NT$170) to seafood lasagna (NT$180) would reflect the sauces found in the deli case. The sun-dried tomato (NT$160/100g), black olive tapenade (NT$155/100g) and coriander pesto (NT$150/100g), however, are nowhere to be found in the entrees. In fact, the pesto used in the pasta is different from the pesto in the deli case.
If you are looking for a deli experience, skip Fresca. If you are looking for olives to start that dinner party, a pasta sauce to take home, or cheese to go, Fresca offers a quality range of deli items at competitive prices.