Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 12 News List

Restaurant review: Indulge Experimental Bistro (Indulge餐酒館)

By By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

Indulge Experimental Bistro change its food and drink menus seasonally.

Photo: Ho Yi, Taipei Times

Co-founded by Aki Wang (王偉勳), a three-time world champion mixologist, Indulge Experimental Bistro is all about the drink. Bartenders dressed in black concoct a fine collection of craft cocktails under atmospheric purple lighting, luring imbibers with a focus on creativity and bartending prowess. Food is also served here, but pales before Wang’s much lauded creations.

Tucked away in an alley near the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station (忠孝復興捷運站), the bistro has a dark, intimate feel, outfitted with a basement area designed to accommodate large groups. The design concept, however, doesn’t appear well-thought-through. Predominantly white and beige, the interior color schemes give the space a homey, rather tame look, failing to accentuate the sense of excitement exuded from the back bar where arrays of bottles promise a Dionysian night.

The bistro’s cocktail menu is a completely different matter, featuring Wang’s original concoctions as well as classics with a touch of innovation and local zest. Guava Mule (NT$300), for example, is a sweet, fruity interpretation of Moscow Mule, created using vodka, guava puree, lime juice and ginger beer made in-house. The Blood of Don (NT$500) I tried packs a well-balanced zing, blending two Don Julio Tequila varieties with a house-made specialty infusion composed of Sichuan pepper, celery bitters, sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, lime and tomato juice.

The bartenders at Indulge are also known for their experiments with unique flavors. Among the original blends on offer, the signature Scent of Woman (NT$400) is a vodka-based cocktail infused with sauvignon blanc wine, lemon and apple juice as well as the house-made ginger lily syrup. Fragrance (NT$400) is also a feminine drink made with gin, grape and litchi liquors and a lemon and apple twist.

Indulge Experimental Bistro (Indulge餐酒館)

Address:11, Ln 219, Fuxing S Rd Sec 1, Taipei City(台北市復興南路一段219巷11號)

Telephone:(02) 2773-0080

Open:Sunday to Thursday from 5pm to 2am, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 3am

Details:menu in Chinese and English; credit cards accepted

On the net:

For those looking to splurge, the world-class mixologist and proprietor has generated a small selection of cocktails using premium aged spirits. The 1968 Arzerac (NT$2,000) is their most expensive drink, featuring 1968 vintage Armagnac, a kind of brandy produced in the Armagnac region of France, and infused with absinthe, aromatic bitters as well as orange and lemon zest.

As for the food, the bistro has a decent selection of appetizers, main courses and late-night snacks available after 10pm, and the young chefs evidently draw inspiration from local ingredients to create European-influenced dishes. The end result is, however, hit-and-miss.

The grilled duck breast and fried figs seasoned with sherry wine (NT$450), for example, was a playful explosion of flavors but let down by the overly dry meat. The steamed truffle chicken rolls with merlot sauce (NT$380) were an adequate choice of appetizer spiced up with the rich flavor of black truffle.

For the main course, my dining partner and I shared the boiled cod roes risotto with sauteed scallop (NT$500). Using the oceanic delicacy from Donggang (東港), Pingtung County, the dish had a freshly saline taste but didn’t impress. For an extra NT$300, a main course can be made into a set meal with bread, appetizer, soup and dessert. And some of the cocktails are half off if a main course is ordered.

It is generally agreed among food bloggers that the bistro’s appetizers and snacks are safer choices than main courses. Late-night tidbits include roasted spicy chicken wings seasoned with cognac and fennel (NT$280), smoked salmon with caviar and spicy passion fruit sauce (NT$350) and fried seasonal seafood with sea urchin cheese sauce (NT$380).

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