January 17, 2012

Elephant Cafe

Address: No. 1號, Lane 238, Section 1, Dūnhuà South Road, Daan District  Taipei City, 106
Telephone: (02) 8771-8370
Hours: Mon - Fri 12pm to 10pm, Sat - Sun 11am to 10pm
Price: $$

  This week I'm back in the Dunhua area and I'm switching things up a little bit by trying a friend's recommendation: Elephant Cafe. This time last year I was in Edinburgh's Elephant Cafe (shoulda done a review ...) and it didn't disappoint, so I hope this is a trend. Behind the Dunhua Sogo, this little cafe is tucked away in Lane 238 (don't blink or you might miss it!). 
With it's sliding glass doors, the restaurant can capitalize on the wonderful weather and the comfortable indoor seating. Though there isn't much in the way of outdoor seating, there are several tables and chairs (some are secluded from the street by huge potted plants) and an adorable little bar area. It's difficult to see in the picture below, but the outdoor bar looks out onto the street and offers about seven seats.
I loved the atmosphere in Elephant Cafe! I was immediately reminded of Cafeteria on Boston's Newbury Street and was quite pleased with the remarkable resemblance. Atmosphere aside, the menu offers a variety of beverage options including the basic Taiwan fare (coffee, tea) and the classic American fare (milkshakes, sodas). The variety of food on the menu isn't as great, but the prices are reasonable for the Dunhua area. Nachos, french fries, and other snack items are on the menu for less than $100 NT.
There are several brunch items on the menu including egg salad, tuna, and BLT sandwiches. For an extra $20 NT, you can substitute the toast for a bagel. I ordered the BLT sandwich ($180 NT, includes either tea or coffee), and was pleasantly surprised by a side order of tortilla chips AND french fries! The french fries were perfectly cooked; crispy on the outside, soft and potato-y (or is it potato-esque?) on the inside. While the french fries tasted homemade, the tortilla chips came straight from a bag, but hey, this is Taiwan. Homemade tortilla chips are definitely not what this island is known for.

The sandwich itself was delicious. I can't fault it for anything. While the "B" in the BLT wasn't the typical American-style cooked bacon, it was pork nonetheless and I actually enjoyed this modified version. There was a whole head of "L", but not really much "T". If you're craving a traditional American BLT this is not the place, but I highly recommend it if you want the next best thing. 

The menu is in Chinese and English and the staff speak both. Unfortunately, there's a 10% service charge. For most people this isn't a problem, but for those of you used to Taipei's "No tips, no tax" in most restaurants, this can come as slight shock. In addition, the beverage menu is extensive and for good reason! The drinks are delicious and if you order a meal that comes with coffee or tea, you can substitute your complementary beverage with a beverage of your choosing. Just subtract $50 NT from the cost of the other beverage. Last but not least, Elephant Cafe has a "No Outside Food or Drink" policy that I haven't really seen at many other restaurants. Not sure how heavily enforced this is.

To get a better idea of Elephant Cafe's location, please visit their Facebook page.

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