Among the trendy cafes and restaurants lining the alleys of Nanjing West Road (南京西路) near Zhongshan MRT Station (中山捷運站), Galerie Bistro holds an edge with its selection of classic French, Italian and American dishes and a unique location.
This upscale restaurant, which opened two years ago, is housed in a three-story mansion that dates back to the 1930s, built during the Japanese occupation, and belongs to the family of owner Ely Liu (劉怡利).
The all-white interior suits the clientele — boutique shoppers, business executives and ladies who lunch — while the outdoor patio and garden, with its marble tables, comfy chairs and large white umbrellas, offers an idyllic setting for afternoon tea.
But the real attraction is the excellent food. The menu was designed by an American chef who was a former consultant to the Ambassador Hotel (國賓飯店), according to manager John Chiu (邱靖倫).
Be ready to splurge a little, especially for items such as Fine de Claire oysters imported from France, which cost NT$260 for one, NT$1,500 for six and NT$2,980 for a dozen.
Dinner sets include soup, salad and a side dish, and range from NT$680 for ravioli with tomato sauce to NT$1,480 for an eight ounce cut of US prime rib eye.
Business lunch sets can run up to NT$850, but you don’t need access to a corporate expense account for a decent midday meal.
Galerie Bistro touts its savory crepes as a customer favorite. Choices include garden vegetables with sauce bechamel (NT$310), the andouille, (NT$320), which is filled with Emmental (Swiss) cheese, mushrooms and pork sausage, and a spinach, egg and cheese crepe for NT$360.
It’s hard to find a good sandwich in Taipei, which makes it easy to appreciate the Burgundy ham and Emmental cheese panini (NT$390). The melted cheese oozes out through the ham slices, and the focaccia bread is toasted to a perfect, crispy brown.
Address: 2, Ln 25, Nanjing W Rd, Taipei City (台北市南京西路25巷2號)
Telephone: (02) 2558-0096
Open: 11:45am to 9pm Tuesday through Friday and Sundays, open from 11:45am to 10pm on Saturdays, closed on Mondays
Average meal: NT$500 to NT$1,200 per person
Details: Credit cards accepted
On the Net: www.galeriebistro.com
Other panini choices include the albacore tuna melt (NT$360) and California grilled chicken melt (NT$390), which is garnished with red pepper, onion, avocado, and pepper jack cheese. The sandwiches come with a generous portion of thin and crispy french fries spiced with garlic and cheese (ignore the note on the menu listing an additional cost of NT$100 for fries).
A few items seem overpriced. My dining companion didn’t think the roasted beetroot salad, which is on this season’s menu, was worth NT$380, despite the top-notch ingredients: buffalo mozzarella, feta cheese, organic arugula, beetroot, candied walnuts and a honey-lemon vinaigrette. Everything is fresh, but the portion won’t do as a lunch for one.
Scoff all you want at the NT$500 hamburger, but Galerie Bistro gets it right in ways that most places in Taipei don’t.
Aside from the snobby name, the Galerie burger experience de lux 8oz delivers on the details. The ground beef patty, which measured around 2.5cm thick (and yes, it looked like 8oz), was flavorful, thanks to a good proportion of fat and meat, and slightly charred on the outside. The cheese was melted on top so that it was one with the patty.
The bun, which was buttered and lightly toasted, was just right and practically made up for the burger’s shortcomings. It was soft and light but had a slightly crispy top, and most importantly, it wasn’t too sweet. I wish Taipei’s better burger joints — Bongos, Forkers, KGB Burgers to name a few — served theirs with rolls like this.