In Taipei, there are too few places like Salon de The, where you can enjoy afternoon tea and a light meal in a quiet, idyllic setting.
Salon de The — not to be confused with Salon de The de Joel Rubuchon at the Bellavita Mall — feels more like a neighborhood cafe in Paris than a fancy place on Yongkang Street or on Shida Road could ever hope to be. And it’s not even trying that hard.
Salon de The’s main business is selling high-quality teas processed in and imported from France, with a wide selection that includes every imaginable variety, from Earl Grey and Ceylon to locally grown Oolong and exotic herbal flavors. Located near Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Salon de The’s shop looks a bit cluttered, with stacks of boxes and shelves full of tins of tea taking up half of the space, but the place feels welcoming.
I like tea, but I’m not much of a connoisseur, so I just went with what looked interesting on the menu. I was drawn to two pages devoted to “fantasy teas,” a list of mixed herbal blends with names like “Eros,” “Casablanca” and “Elixir D’Amour.” I enjoyed the Choco Menthe (NT$200 a pot), a mixture of black tea, chocolate and mint, but the one I’ll be ordering again is the Butter Scotch (NT$180 a pot), a black tea with a delightful and potent infusion of chocolate and caramel.
There are five or six tables, and you wouldn’t guess that meals were served here. The food is presented as more of an excuse to stay and try the teas, but it’s better than what you’ll find at the average Taipei cafe. The small selection consists of crepes and several pasta dishes, including the reasonably satisfying Spaghetti Bolognese (NT$190).
The crepes are your best bet, though. The savory selection includes the traditional crepe (NT$100), which is filled with ham and cheese. For something with all the trimmings, get the Provence (NT$120), which is stuffed with ham, tuna, tomatoes, lettuce and boiled egg and garnished with mayonnaise.
You can’t go wrong with the sweet crepes, with prices ranging from NT$60 to NT$120. On a visit last week, we kept it simple, and got two crepes, one with chocolate sauce and one with honey (NT$60 each). Both come with a dollop of whipped cream and go well with any of the teas on offer.
Lunch specials are a good deal, at NT$200 for one savory and sweet crepe and a cup of black tea. But it’s definitely worth trying one of the some 80 or so varieties of teas. A pot ranges from NT$180 to NT$260 and will last for an hour or so for two people.
One of Salon de The’s best qualities is its locale. The place is easy to get to, but it feels secluded, as it’s situated on a shady, tree-lined section of Xinyi Road (信義路) near the northeast side of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. And best of all, Salon de The is quiet, at least it was during the weekdays we visited.