When the first Cafe Bastille opened off Shida Road (20, Ln 60, Taishun St, Taipei City,台北市泰順街60巷20號) nearly six years ago, people went there for the Belgium beer and the slightly artistic and alternative vibe. It has since expanded with a second location near National Taiwan University (91 Wenzhou St, Taipei City, 台北市溫州街91號) and last month opened its third, on Wenzhou Street near the corner with Heping East Road (和平東路).
This expansion has seen facilities upgraded, but in other areas Cafe Bastille has dropped the ball.
The space itself at the newest addition is appealing, with big windows and a narrow veranda to make the most of sunny days. Tables are nicely spaced, giving some level of privacy, and the mismatched contemporary furnishings show a good eye for design. The menu is large, but unfortunately variety does not make up for quality.
There is breakfast, there is afternoon tea, there are quick meals ranging from Thai lemon fish to meatballs, there are finger foods, sweets, Belgian beer, cocktails, wine and numerous varieties of coffee and tea — all designed for quick, easy preparation, which is evident in what comes to the table.
While it is certain that the Belgian beers, which constitute one of Cafe Bastille’s principle appeals, are unaffected, the meals (from NT$170) are so obviously out of a packet that I was somewhat aghast. “Brazen” is the word that came to mind.
There is a plenitude of “coffee shops” that sell pre-packaged food around the Shida area, but most make some effort, no matter how pathetic, to disguise or at least decorate the contents of the can (or packet) of food they serve. Bastille III is above, or below, such deception. It didn’t help that the staff didn’t know how to operate a microwave, serving up a plate of barbeque meatballs and penne that was partially cold. This discovery was particularly galling as I only dug into the meatballs after overcoming a very real abhorrence to the sight of the slimy khaki substance that was supposed to be the gravy.
Japanese teppanyaki, Italian lasagna and French seafood paella round out this international tour de farce. The tapas menu, which is how the range of finger foods was described, includes popcorn (NT$150), mozzarella sticks (NT$280), a variety of cocktails and, of course, Belgian beer. Service was minimalist, though a member of staff was kind enough to point out the conveniently situated power sockets so that I could use my laptop. The Wi-Fi connection was excellent, and the coffee adequate.
As a place for drinks with friends, the pleasant, airy space and the huge menu have a certain appeal, but the sophistication of Bastille III extends no further than the decoration and beer.
The restaurant/bar has a basement area that can be used for small performances and exhibitions.
Address: 7 Wenzhou St, Taipei City (台北市溫州街7號)
Telephone: (02) 2362-9981
Open: Daily from 8am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$200
Details: Chinese and English menu; free wireless Internet
With most of his village preferring to converse in Mandarin, opportunities are scant for 81-year-old Kacaw to use his mother language of Amis. But things are changing in his household — one day the family was having an animated discussion when his plucky four-year-old granddaughter Nikal bursts into the room: “You should talk in the mother tongue,” she tells them loudly in Amis. Another time, Nikal’s uncle Yosifu, a well-known artist, overheard her arguing with her grandmother over rights to the television remote — “in our mother tongue,” he tells me excitedly. “With such visible change, I can see hope
British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor , 66, is mounting his largest-ever UK exhibition of outdoor sculpture at Houghton Hall in Norfolk from late this month, including his famous Sky Mirror, a five-meter stainless steel disc that turns the world around it upside down. Sarah Crompton: What kind of things did you want to show at Houghton Hall? Anish Kapoor: It’s one of the great houses of England, with a great history, and extensive grounds. I decided the stone works that I’ve made over the past 25 years, and I’ve never shown in the UK before, would sit quite well there. Then it
Deaths, economic meltdown and a planet on lockdown: the coronavirus pandemic has brought us waves of bad news, but squint and you might just see a few bright spots. From better hygiene that has reduced other infectious diseases to people reaching out as they self-isolate, here are some slivers of silver linings during a bleak moment. WASH YOUR HANDS! The message from health professionals has been clear from the start of the outbreak: wash your hands. Everyone from celebrities to politicians has had a go at demonstrating correct technique — including singing Happy Birthday twice through to make sure you scrub long enough, and
It’s going to get easier, I think to myself, as I lie in bed in the darkness, one hand gripping tightly the edge of the mattress, the other pressing hard on the spot where my head just thudded loudly, again, into a wall. In the bunk below, my cabinmate Oleg is dozing deeply. I might not be sleeping yet, but I will once I’ve found my sea legs. I’ve come a long way, I try to reassure myself, considering it’s only my fourth night at sea. When I arrived on board my temporary new home, Greenpeace’s MV Esperanza, even successfully navigating