I was impressed the moment I entered Dearlicious. A friend had told me about a new deli-style eatery, and I walked in one day out of sheer convenience. I went again the next day. And then the day after that.
Dearlicious is more like a chic European delicatessen than anything local, and its small gourmet menu is best enjoyed sitting down.
The interior of the restaurant is a blend of elements. It’s modern pop for epicureans, and it pays homage to the disco era. The pink walls add a touch of girlishness to the otherwise stylish white furnishings. The entire space is open-concept and a large glass display case does the dishes much justice, as much effort has been placed on presentation as on taste.
On each visit, I discovered additions to the menu: The California-trained chef seems eager to roll out new concoctions.
With more than 15 elegant appetizers, there are two ways to order — individually or in a set. Dear’s Style (NT$520) includes two cold appetizers, plus a pie or a sandwich. Jo’s Style (NT$850) includes the pie or sandwich, as well as three cold appetizers and a soup.
My favorite of the cold appetizers was the English spiced pumpkin (NT$140), which along with carrots and mushrooms has a curried kick that is mellowed and sweetened by the pumpkin. Fans of beets should relish the rare roasted shallot and beetroot salad (NT$160). I am not a fan of beets, but my lunch date loved it and the reds in it are so gorgeous that I need to rethink my aversion. I was drawn to the potato salad (NT$140) because of its beer dressing. While quite mild, the beer gives a classic potato salad some depth, in the way that Dijon mustard does. Dearlicious also introduces a new way to eat egg salad: in the form of a tiny hors d’oeuvre. The Belgian endive and egg salad (NT$140) is small, but packs some creamy flavors into a morsel.
There are four sandwiches and two galettes to choose from, which you can think of as entrees. I recommend the galette (NT$300). The nut-encrusted open-faced pastry resembles a Danish, but it’s French and stuffed with beef, or mushrooms with sour cream and yogurt. I had the beef, which is stew-like and apparently slow-roasted with mushrooms, whole garlic cloves and caramelized onions. It’s one of those meat dishes so rich and succulent that the vegetarian version didn’t stand a chance with a carnivore like me.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, there are four to choose from. The pulled chicken sandwich (NT$250) is an impressive spin on BBQ pulled pork. I was ambivalent about this dish at first because at the counter the bread looked tough and the chicken dry. But by the time the pulled chicken got to me, it was as juicy and tender as a sloppy joe.
On my second trip, I had the rib eye steak sandwich (NT$280). I was once again surprised at how tender the cuts of beef were, but the flavors were far subtler than the pulled chicken. A tangy mayonnaise sauce did liven it up though.
There are also western-style soups. I tried the carrot and potato pureed soup (NT$150) and the pear pureed soup (NT$150). The former trumps the latter simply because it has much more flavor. The carrot soup is slightly sweet and a bit nutty, and the pear puree is far blander and reminded me of a broccoli soup.
The pink lemonade is strongly recommended (NT$100). Dearlicious is the only place I’ve seen it in Taiwan and it’s the real, not-too-sweet deal. There is also a red wine spritzer (NT$150), which I believe is essential to washing down your lunch.