Bacco Tapas near the Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel features a cozy dining room, a very large selection of classic Spanish or Spanish-style tapas and an almost equally extensive wine list.
Their service is good and my dining party relied on our server’s suggestions to navigate the menu of almost four dozen small plates. She suggested that we start with tapas on a slice of toasted baguette, which range in price from NT$80 to NT$200. The marinated tomato and avocado (NT$80) came topped with a big heap of the latter fruit, which made up for its somewhat steep price, but I preferred the much more interesting juxtaposition of flavors in the smoked salmon over sour cream and honey (NT$120). The salty fish contrasted well with the trickle of honey and the richness of the sour cream.
The balsamic marinated baby octopus (NT$180) is one of the restaurant’s best-selling cold tapas, but it is definitely a love-it-or-hate-it dish. The tiny cephalopods are marinated in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil until they resemble a heap of deep red brandy cherries with tentacles. The tartness of the vinegar concealed the natural flavor of the octopus, while its firm yet tender texture was an interesting counterpoint to the balsamic fruitiness.
The shrimp ceviche (NT$160) is a good alternative for less adventurous seafood fans. It is marinated in lemon juice spiked liberally with garlic and onions and has just the right amount of citrusy bite. The stir-fried clams with parsley and white wine (NT$180) featured so much of its signature herb that it almost overwhelmed the delicate flavor of the shellfish, but the dish was nonetheless delicious.
Address: 7, Ln 265, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市敦化南路二段265巷7號)
Telephone: (02) 2739-1128
Open: Lunch is served from noon to 2:30pm, dinner from 6pm to 10pm
Details: Chinese and English menu, credit cards accepted
Average meal: Most tapas dishes range from about NT$150 to NT$260
Bacco’s version of deviled eggs (NT$180) uses very little mix-ins like mayonnaise or mustard. Instead, they are served carefully topped with slices of black olive, marinated bell pepper, shrimp and a drizzle of pesto sauce, all of which work well together.
Tapas worth missing include the spinach tortilla with aioli sauce (NT$150), which resembled (and tasted) like a potato pie and had very little spinach in it. The aioli sauce was surprisingly bland, considering how flavorful all of our other dishes were. We ordered the pork and beef meatballs in a tomato stew (NT$180) based on our server’s list of the restaurant’s best sellers, but they were also unmemorable.
Make sure to save some room for Bacco’s desserts, many of which (including flan, crema Catalana and pear in red wine) are served with vanilla ice cream, which is understandable because Bacco’s version of the sweet classic is excellent.
Our fennel apple pie with vanilla ice cream (NT$280) took a little while to arrive at our table, but was worth the wait. The piping hot pie featured half of an apple baked in a crispy phyllo dough shell and topped with anise pods. The ice cream was served slightly soft, making it easy to layer on top of pie. It was a wonderful combination and our favorite out of all the dishes we ordered.
If your dining party doesn’t feel inclined to share or wants bigger servings, Bacco’s menu also features a few entrees, including rosemary chicken steak, grilled duck breast with berry sauce, and cumin French chops, ranging in price from NT$480 to NT$1,080. Roast leg of lamb is available for NT$3,800 and needs to be reserved two days in advance.