At The V:F, staff stay on top of the news. Freshly-printed signs at the wooden dining tables emphasize that ingredients here are safe: There’s no refined flour, no artificial flavorings, no domestic cooking oil. Most of the vegetables are organic, a server says.
The restaurant opened last year with a “City, Green, Hope” theme and a menu of over 60 western-style entrees, soups, salads and desserts, all vegetarian, some vegan.
Some of the dishes are quietly grand. The V:F does a great corn soup (NT$80) that arrives in a little white bowl. Though it doesn’t shout for attention, This soup tastes intensely of corn and is velvety and milkily fragrant in the way of light cream; every spoonful is brimming with dewy kernels. It is one of three soups based exclusively on vegetable stock and created from scratch daily using an immersion blender.
But soups aside, the vegetarian menu doesn’t try hard to make vegetables and fruits a main event. Its entrees include a mushroom risotto (NT$210), tomato and sesame pasta (NT$230), a cheese draped calzone (NT$250) — all dishes that are aimed at omnivores, just prepared without meat.
Consider the truffle pot-stickers (NT$210), a server’s recommendation. There are four to an order, fried to a greasy crisp on cast-iron just like its animal-product counterpart. The fried dough is the star attraction and it’s perfect — fragrant, chewy where it ought to be, better than the street-stand variety because you get them crunchy and lattice-thin at the edges. Next to them, there’s a kebob of red peppers and corn, a sort of lonely, virtuous vegetable symbol.
The V:F also offers a long list of drinks based on its imported teas and coffees. They have sweet names, like Strawberry Lola and Cocoa Jolie (NT$130), and are small and pretty drinks decorated with fruits. Blueberry Alice, an espresso drink, boasts a delicate sweet froth thick enough to hold up individual blueberries and dollops of blueberry jam. There’s also a range of popular juices, with equally darling names like Pretty in Pink and Green Grasshopper (NT$250), made with seltzer, fruit puree and crushed ice.
To mark its first anniversary, the restaurant will serve a complimentary dessert to diners who spend NT$300 or more from now until Friday. This dessert is a spiced and baked whole apple, cut in half to sandwich some vanilla ice cream, then sprinkled with chocolate cookie crumbs and topped with a sprig of mint. It looks odd on the table, like an overgrown potato, but the components come together like an apple cobbler.