The homey, retro-modern vibe of Chez Moi Cafe will soothe the tired shopper and surprise the passerby. Located in the gentrified alley of fancy hairdressing salons and fashion boutique stores behind Zhongshan MRT Station’s (中山捷運站) exit No. 2 on Nanjing West Road (南京西路), this low-to-mid priced bistro serves food on the healthier side of the diner-style spectrum.
Greeted with warm lighting and the sounds of jazz playing softly in the background, diners sit in comfort on upholstered chairs that look straight out of the 1950s. One side of the room is covered in wallpaper with lime-green patterns, making it feel as if Doris Day might burst into the room.
The all-day brunch (NT$200) is not quite authentic greasy spoon grub with its side dish choices, but it offers plenty of homemade goodness and decent value for the price: organic eggs cooked to order; French fries; sausage, bacon and ham; as well as a choice of coffee or tea and fresh juice or milk. One puzzling side dish was the vegetables — fresh string beans cooked with mushrooms and baby corn, both of which tasted like they were canned.
But this flaw was easily overlooked since the brunch also comes with toast made of homemade fresh bread and herb butter. The bread is also available with the ladies breakfast (NT$140), which replaces the meats in the all-day brunch with several forkfuls of “spice chicken” (香料雞肉) and a serving of salad.
Chez Moi’s homemade cheeseburger (NT$150), which comes with a side of fries and a side of steamed vegetables, makes for an easy and satisfying lunch with its slightly spicy beef patty. The menu recommends an accompaniment of bottled Guinness (NT$170), but those who know better can opt for Erdinger (NT$180) or Grolsch (NT$190). For local exotica, go for North Taiwan Brewing’s (北台灣麥酒) lychee (荔枝) or melon (哈密瓜) beers at NT$170 each.
While such standards were more than passable, the star of the menu was the humble French chicken sandwich (NT$140), which hit the right combination of ingredients. The toasted fresh bread and lettuce give it the right crunch, and the chicken breast slices mingle well with the Dijon mustard and a light spreading of mayonnaise. Sliced tomato and a few onion slices round out this sandwich’s wholesome, classic taste.
Also on offer is a full assortment of teas, hot chocolate and espresso drinks (NT$100 to NT$160). Desserts include homemade cheesecake (NT$90), a brownie sundae (NT$100) and the ujikintoki waffle (抹茶紅豆鬆餅, NT$140), made from green-tea batter and served with green-tea ice cream. On a warm day, try the refreshing raspberry frozen (覆盆子凍飲, NT$140), made of frozen raspberries blended with ice.
The food overall is noteworthy for its emphasis on fresh ingredients, but don’t go to Chez Moi to satisfy a craving for Western fare — it’s more suitable as a peaceful escape from the hustle of the city, and a stylish one at that.— David Chen
Address: 1F, 1-4, Ln 23, Nanjing W Rd, Taipei City (台北市南京西路23巷1-4號1樓)
Open: Daily from 7:30am to 10:30pm; closed on the first Tuesday of February, April, June, August, October and December
Telephone: (02) 2567-4677
Average Meal: NT$250 per person
On the Net: blog.roodo.com/chezmoicafe
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards not accepted
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