May 08, 2012


Address: Lane 233, Section 1, Dūnhuà South Road, Daan District
Telephone: (02) 2773-7111
Hours: 10am to 10pm, days not listed
Price: $$

On beautiful sunny days, I really just want to find a nice cafe with outdoor seating and read. In Taipei, that's more difficult than one would imagine. Many a Taiwanese eatery lacks outdoor seating; those with outdoor seating have only one or two tables (and nine times out of ten, those tables are already occupied). So, more often than not, I find myself back at Haricot, enjoying their outdoor seating area all to myself.

Settling in to my usual table outdoors, the waitress brings me the menu, but asks if I want my usual (the smoked salmon panini for $240 NT). Sure, why not? Disappearing to get my usual glass of ice water, she leaves the drink menu, in case I deviate from my pattern. Nope.
As the breeze picks up, I can't help but wonder why outdoor dining isn't more of a thing here. There are entire months in Taiwan when the weather is absolutely perfect. Temperature, humidity, wind speed; everything perfect. My smoked salmon panini arrives with a side of french fries and a salad.
The  salad is quite good. A lot of iceberg lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, and some cabbage. There aren't any tomatoes or other assorted fruits and vegetables, but I'm not too picky in this regard. There is a light balsamic dressing drizzled on top which I thoroughly enjoy ... until I see all the oil at the bottom of the plate. Then I feel slightly guilty.
The panini itself is made of toasted wheat bread and consists of iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, salmon, capers, and very light cream cheese (so light as to be almost imperceptible). This sandwich tastes as healthy as it looks. Finally! I can eat something in Taipei and not agonize over the calorie content! I absolutely love this panini (though the bread isn't what I would typically recognize as "panini bread") and it's obvious to me why this is my "usual". 
The french fries are perfectly cooked, as referenced in my last Haricot review, and the ketchup rendered superfluous. Some things never change, and these french fries are reason alone to visit and return to this Dunhua eatery. 
Dining at Haricot previously, I have received several glasses of tea on the house. On this particular occasion, I received a water "upgrade". The staff is so nice here and the owner always makes a point to talk to me and ask me how everything in my life is going. I believe that Haricot is to Taipei what Cheers is to Boston sans alcohol. My bill came to $264 NT with the 10% service charge, and I promise that next time, I'll step out of my comfort zone and eat something else.... Maybe the ham and cheese panini.

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