Bread & Soup, which opened last year in Tianmu (天母) at 158, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 6, (台北中山北路六段158號), has recently opened a second branch in an equally high-profile location, targeting Taipei yuppies with what is billed as some of the most authentic European bread available in the city.
Well, it should be authentic, since the bread is actually made in Belgium, though baked in Taiwan. Following in Paul’s (see Taipei Times review of Nov. 7, 2008) footsteps, Bread & Soup imports its bread and pastry dough, which is produced in centralized kitchens and then shipped to outlets around the world, so you can be sure you’re getting the real thing.
Bread & Soup really does have some excellent bread, but with regards to almost everything else, it has yet to find its feet.
The sandwich menu certainly looked very appealing, and I opted for one of the most expensive items, the Italian Parma ham sandwich (NT$240). I chose the combo option (an extra NT$140), which included a drink and bowl of soup.
To speak kindly, the sandwich had a very subtle flavor — that of a single very thinly sliced piece of Parma ham. The salad, which sported a mere handful of butter and crinkle-leaf lettuce (at least it wasn’t romaine or iceberg) and crudely chopped chunks of cheddar, didn’t even make a pretense at presentation. Toothpicks with paper flags holding the sandwich together topped off what was clearly an inadequate sense of style. The same miserliness and lack of flair characterized the cheddar and mozzarella panini.
Then there was the soup. I had opted for tomato soup, which, although made with real tomatoes, was a tad sour and had the texture of a warm gazpacho. My companion had gone for what was described as Italian borscht, but turned out to be vegetable soup with a ham stock — reasonable, but not exactly borscht.
Address: 23, Ln 240, Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路240巷23號)
Telephone: (02) 2772-0818
Open: 7am to 11pm
Average meal: NT$400
Details: English menu; credit cards accepted
My latte was very average, and my companion’s lemon juice refreshing, though when asked if it was made from freshly squeezed fruit, the waitress admitted that it was made of reconstituted ingredients.
But indeed, the bread for both the sandwich and the panini lived up to its reputation. The strawberry cheesecake (NT$85) was also good, very European (and clearly not made locally), light and a good deal cheaper than a similar and slightly richer offering at Maison Kayser in the Breeze Center.
In addition to coffee, tea and soft drinks, Bread & Soup serves a range of Belgium beers and wines that can be ordered with its sandwiches, though wait staff were clearly unversed in the finer points of its fare.
The ground floor seating area is quite attractive, with plenty of natural light, though the basement area could have belonged to a Dante or Ikari coffeeshop. Service was friendly but lacking in experience and assurance. Overall, Bread & Soup has imported a good product, but is either unable or unwilling to provide the trappings to show off its full potential.