Live bands and cheap drinks at a retro rock 'n' roll music bar
Written and translated by Diva
Photos by Andy Lin
8, Alley 26, Lane 205, ZhongXiao E Rd, Sec 4; (02) 2777-2218
6 pm-4 am; Fri & Sat 5 pm-4 am
Credit cards accepted. 10% service charge.
Vicious Circle, hidden on an alley off ZhongXiao East Road, Section 4, has in the years since it's opened attracted rock and roll lovers and live music fans alike. While it is true that it may take some time to find its somewhat-secretive location, those who go through the trouble to do so usually become hooked as instant diehard fans.
Vicious Circle is divided into two levels and there are retro vinyl rock records all over the walls, with such finds as early Elvis Presley albums. These records come from the owner's private collection and, while you can admire them, they're not for sale. Upstairs there is also a shelf full of imported, rarely-seen in Taiwanese rock albums. Or embark on a treasure hunt through the CD collection, and you might just end up with a pleasant surprise.
Downstairs is where the live music action takes place. Bands line up to perform at Vicious Circle even though there's no fixed schedule. On the night of our visit, we encountered a rock group consisting of musicians from South Africa and Belgium. Truth be told, they were quite good! You'll be happy to know that all you need to do is buy a drink and you can sit down, relax and enjoy the live music. No admission ticket is required. If you want to get a heads-up on upcoming events and live band performances, go to the official Vicious Circle website for the latest updates.
First-time visitors will probably be astounded at drink prices here, which are very reasonable compared to most bars in this neighborhood. Bartender Josephine presents her latest creations, such as Summer Berry (NT$150), made with vodka, strawberry juice and cranberry juice, with a taste that reminds you of sweet summer love. Melody (NT$150) consists of whiskey and cranberry juice, with a added dry plum giving it a sweet and sour taste. Dulce de leche (NT$150) is a popular treat created from a base of Wild Africa Cream (consisting of rum and milk), together with a scoop of ice cream. Resembling a dessert, this is a cocktail that keeps you cool all summer.
If you come straight to Vicious Circle after work, you can also order food with your drinks. The open kitchen by the entrance might be small, but it's fully functional. Besides "Japanese Fried Finger Food" (NT$90/each; NT$250/assortment of 3; NT$330/assortment of 4), there's Tang Yang Chicken Nuggets, made of tender, juicy chicken thighs and great without any dipping sauce. Deep-Fried Shrimp Cakes are hand-made with whole shrimp and are good with ketchup, mustard or tartar sauce. Manager Flora says a must-have is the Waffle (NT$150), which is somewhat addictive. A secret ingredient is added to the imported waffle mix, and it is toasted until it's golden-brown and crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a filling that tastes like mochi (glutinous rice).
Vicious Circle also has an all-you-can-drink special (NT$490, limited to 3 hours), allowing you to order beer (Heineken, Budweiser), Coke, 7-Up, juice and cocktails till you drop.