Tiff’s Place (Tiff 的地方) is a sleek American-style restaurant that opened last weekend in Xinyi District, one block down from the World Trade Center. Traffic in the neighborhood gets chaotic, but Tiff’s Place occupies an alley that is utterly calm. The restaurant itself is beautiful, with an open kitchen, a cocktail bar, high ceilings and horizontal lines filled in with light and space. It’s the kind of place you go on a lazy Sunday with your trendier friends.
I did not arrive on a Sunday, but on a Tuesday 20 minutes before closing time, as the worst kind of customer. The atmosphere was still welcoming: In a corner there were ladies laughing over party-colored drinks, while a runway show played on the plasma screen TV and emitted a comfortable ambient noise. The proprietor, a young woman who introduced herself as the eponymous Tiffany, delayed closing time without a comment and offered the Wi-Fi password.
Currently, her menu is grounded in a small selection of brunch classics, like Belgian waffles, big salads, battered snapper and chips (NT$220), sandwiches and omelets. Prices are slightly high, though not outliers in the neighborhood
The soups are standouts, and this is one of the only places where you might not mind paying NT$120 for a bowl. Two are vegetarian and all are made from scratch daily. I ordered clam chowder, which doesn’t use juice but instead whole boiled clams. It is a brothier version of the New England chowder, with a delicate clam flavor and soft chopped chunks of potato and celery that dissolve in your mouth.
Tiff’s Place also does an excellent omelet. There are six options that showcase rich ingredients, such as prawns and smoked salmon. The steak omelet (牛肉蛋捲, NT$280) uses wonderfully fatty and chewy slices of short rib, along with bell peppers, onions and parmesan cheese — you can watch the ingredients hit the skillet in the open kitchen. They are sauteed first, then folded gently into the egg to set and served with home fries and a salad with a wasabi dressing. The omelet arrives in a golden half-moon that’s slightly runny on the inside and overflowing with melted cheese.
Address: 12, Alley 6, Ln 395, Xinyi Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市信義路四段395巷6弄12號)
Telephone: (02) 8789-8283
Open:12:30pm to 8:30pm
Average meal: NT$300
Details: English and Chinese menu
Sandwiches here feature the same ingredients used in omelets, but are less impressive. The open-faced Northern European Sweet Prawn Egg Sandwich (北歐甜蝦蛋片三明治, NT$160) is two prawns, greens and hard-boiled egg assembled over two slices of a strong garlic bread. The garnishes were fine, but a good sandwich starts with a good bread and this bread was overpowering and unlikeable.
But on the whole, this newcomer to Xinyi’s scene has good things going for it: some home-run entrees, a boutique vibe. It could soar as a brunch spot. It could also develop in the direction of the full-service cocktail lounge. So far, there’s a nice list of fresh-squeezed juice and specialty cocktails named after lagoons, sunrises and bay breezes, priced NT$150 and up and served with mixed nuts.