From the outside, Siris has a whiskey bar feel that might cause the less-than-trendy to hesitate before its darkened glass doors and then probably head toward the more familiar watering holes of Saints & Sinners or Carnegie’s across the way. But this would be to miss a great opportunity to come to grips with Anhe Road’s first beer boutique, which is what Siris clearly aspires to be.
The restaurant’s name is derived from the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, and beer is what Rex Huang (黃政閣) and his colleagues, who opened Siris four months ago, hope will differentiate their business from the profusion of trendy bars and lounges that line Anhe Road. Rex (Siris the sort of place where everyone is on first-name terms) says “beer is the new wine.” And Siris offers 130 kinds to prove it, with everything from garden variety Corona and Heineken to the only recently imported organic Vollmond Bier from Switzerland. In between, there is virtually every other kind of beer that is currently being imported into Taiwan, with a good range of German, UK and Belgian varieties. This range is unequaled by any other establishment, including high-end supermarkets, and this reviewer was assured that all of the beers were available cold.
But Siris isn’t a bar, as Rex is keen to emphasize. It’s a fine dining establishment at which the beverage of choice is beer rather than wine. The menu even goes so far as to offer suggestions for beers that will complement particular dishes. For example Siris recommends a stout or a lager with its sauteed mushrooms and shrimps (NT$320), a spicy mix of good ingredients that beats the usual onion rings or run-of-the-mill mushroom sautee for both innovation and flavor. A Vollmond Bier was recommended, and while this certainly cleared the pallet, it didn’t quite have the body to dominate the spicy appetizer. But then, it must be declared, I found Vollmund products insipid long before I ever entered the portals of Siris Cuisine & Lounge, and this could possibly have affected my judgment.
For a main course Siris offers a remarkably elegant roast pork knuckle with sauerkraut (NT$520), which went very well with the Gulden Draak (Golden Dragon), the heavy — and to some palettes excessively sweet — Belgian ale that was recommended. Despite some initial forebodings I accepted the suggestion and found the combination with the rich meat, crisp skin and sour cabbage remarkable. This unexpected and successful recommendation certainly counted in Siris’ favor.
The quality of the food was above average, but I was prejudiced by the lounge-bar atmosphere, which seemed more suitable to chartreuse than larger. But then there is plenty of privacy provided by string curtains between tables, the staff are helpful, wine and whiskey drinkers are also provided for, and Siris has a perfectly decent lunch set priced between NT$260 and NT$320, which provides a more than adequate launching pad to a “lost afternoon” in downtown Taipei.
Address: 157, Anhe Rd Sec 2, Taipei City(台北市安和路二段157號)
Telephone: (02) 2733-6215
Open: Noon to 2pm and 6pm to 2am; closes at 3am on weekends
Average meal: NT$500 On the Net: www.siris.tw
Details: Chinese and English menu; credit cards accepted
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