Okey Dokey serves a limited range of pasta (NT$160 to NT$200) and risotto (NT$240 to NT$250), as well as some finger foods (NT$120 to NT$160). The club sandwich (NT$150) I ordered arrived tastefully arranged on an oval plate. Slices of bacon, smoked ham, purple onion and lettuce were sandwiched between slices of toasted baguette and dressed in a lemony mayonnaise, which provided a nice tang.
A few steps up the street is La Boheme, a bistro, and La Chat (路上撿到一隻貓), a coffee house. If Picnic is country living and Okey Dokey uptown chic, La Boheme and La Chat are downtown bohemian. A lot of posing goes on in these establishments. But that’s part of the charm. It’s not uncommon to see artists hanging out here. Last week, I spotted Chen Chieh-jen (陳界仁), an internationally respected video artist, entertaining a group of friends on La Boheme’s wooden deck.
La Boheme’s walls are covered with photographs taken as part of its Photo Wall Plan (相片牆計畫), for which customers were encouraged to submit snaps. Novels and books on art and other subjects line several bookshelves, which also feature posters and postcards of upcoming theater, dance and music performances. Though La Boheme calls itself a bistro, there are no wines on its menu (there is a limited selection of Belgium beers, NT$195) and its food is more American than French.
That said, it does serve a selection of croissant sandwiches (NT$250), Belgian-style waffles with fresh fruit and ice cream (NT$190), as well as appetizers such as spicy Buffalo wings (NT$190/NT$260) and a German sausage plate (NT$180).
Habitues, however, seem to prefer La Boheme’s beef burgers, which the bistro says are 50 percent larger than regular burgers. I’m not sure if this is true, but the “tornado” grilled bacon cheeseburger (NT$230) — served between a large whole wheat bun with tomato, onion, lettuce and pickles — certainly kept me going for the entire day. The lean meat isn’t so much a patty as it is a flattened ball — a good idea, really, because as you chomp your way through the burger, it doesn’t fall apart. Be sure to inform your server in advance if you don’t like ketchup as the crispy and yummy potato wedges come smothered in it.
Though Le Chat is not a restaurant, it deserves a mention because, like Picnic, it’s housed in a cottage-like setting that boasts a sunroom. But it doesn’t have the organized feel that Picnic exudes. Le Chat’s well-worn sofas and chairs and walls covered in all manner of doodles and writing seem to be the work not so much of a caring aunt but an alcoholic uncle. Le Chat doesn’t have a food menu, but its selection of coffees (NT$100 to NT$120) and teas (NT$100 to NT$130) keep young hipsters buzzed throughout the afternoon and late into the evening. It is open daily from 1:30pm to 1:30am and is located at 2, Ln 49, Wenzhou St, Taipei City (台北市溫州街49巷2號), tel: (02) 2364-2263.
Whether whiling away the afternoon with friends over coffee or nibbling on a home-cooked meal, there is something here for everyone. And if you can’t find a seat at any of these four locations, there are several other restaurants and coffee shops in the area to choose from.
La Boheme Cafe and Bistro (波黑美亞咖啡食堂)
Address: 2, Ln 48, Wenzhou St, Taipei City (台北市溫州街48巷2號)
Telephone: (02) 2368-1086
Open: Monday to Friday from 11am to 2am and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2am