Louis XIV

*11, Lane 76, SiWei Road;(02) 2706-3416
*Hours: 12 noon-10 pm (Monday~Sunday),
*closed last Monday of every month.

I had the pleasure of eating dinner at Louis XIV recently, where our hostess, the lovely Claire, took us on a guided tour of a menu that combines a sound understanding of the principles of Provencal cuisine with international flair. Owner Phoebe Wang makes frequent trips to France and has produced a beautifully photographed book on the subject. On Claire's recommendation, we started with Truffle Omelette with Fresh Goose Liver (NT$680) which was large enough to share. My companion's Grilled New York Steak with Garlic and Anchovy (NT$750) was perfectly bleu and warm all the way through, while my Sauteed Lamb Chops with Provence Herb Cream Sauce (NT$680) caused me to completely abandon all pretence of good manners and pick up the bones to gnaw off the last scraps of meat. The Nougatine (NT$180) dessert with an espresso (NT$100) is worth a late-night visit in itself. In addition, there are lunch and dinner set menus priced at NT$360, NT$400, NT$630 and NT$720, respectively. In the spirit of Provence, these menus are changed every one to two months. --By Tracy Perkins, translated by Cara Steenstra

La Petite Cuisine

*45, ShuangCheng Street;02) 2597-3838
*Hours: Lunch/¤ÈÀ\: 12-2 pm (Tuesdays~Saturdays)
*Dinner: 6-10 pm (Tuesdays~Sundays) Closed Mondays

In an exciting development for Taipei food culture, world-renowned Singaporean chef Justin Quek has opened La Petite Cuisine in the Linsen North Road district of Taipei. This Chaine des Rotisseurs restaurant has been open for only six months, but already has a following amongst Taipei's movers and shakers. La Petite Cuisine is all understated elegance and, on entering the basement dining room, one is immediately struck by the sight of a silver vase garden, suspended in glass above a reflecting pool which, on that day, was displaying a forest of red roses. I sampled items from the lunch set menu, priced at NT$750 for three courses. No visit to a French restaurant would be complete without sampling the foie-gras. The Warm Salad of Pan-Fried Foie Gras with Raisin Sauce was superbly creamy and seared to perfection. The humble carrot becomes an elegant Carrot Soup with Lobster. The chef followed this with a creation of his own, Salmon with Scallops in Lobster Sauce. I opted for the Platter of French Cheeses instead of dessert (NT$300 extra), followed by an excellent cup of Organic Nicaraguan Coffee. --By Tracy Perkins, translated by Cara Steenstra

La Brasserie (Ritz Landis Hotel)

*41, MinQuan E. Rd., Sec. 2;(02) 2597-1234
*Hours: Monday~Sunday:
*Breakfast 6 - 10 am,
*Lunch 12- 2:30 pm,
*Tea 2:30-5 pm,
*Dinner 6-11:30 pm

While Paris 1930 is The Landis Hotel's most revered French restaurant, its first-floor sister, La Brasserie, has charms of its own. The Alsatian cuisine is the perfect counterpoint for Taipei's one and only venue with authentic banquette seating, replete with top-grade, brown-leather upholstery, and mirrored walls. The dishes are heartier and satisfy the halest of appetites. Specialties include various tantalizing sausages and sauerkraut, all cooked to perfection. So, you will find no overboiled cabbage and greasy pork dishes here!

La Brasserie provides a swanky venue that would be ideal for the festive Chinese New Year season. You could easily imagine yourself at a five-star hotel in Paris. Prices for set menus are sure to please at NT$1,800, plus 10 percent. One recent eight-course menu, for example, included lobster and green papaya salad, oyster cream soup with leek hearts and saffron, filet of red snapper seared in veal jus with black beans and slices of roasted ribeye with a shallot and red-wine sauce; another dish featured lamb with three-pepper sauce, filet of seabass stuffed with lobster mousse and chicken breast stewed in Bretagne butter and thyme. Bon appetite! --By Brian Asmus, translated by Cara Steenstra

Paris 1930 (Ritz Landis Hotel)

*41, MinQuan E. Rd., Sec. 2 ; (02) 2597-1234
*Hours: Monday~Sunday/6:30 pm-11:30 pm

Taipei has only one establishment restaurant and that is Paris 1930 at The Landis Hotel. As Taipei's premier restaurant, expect to be pampered with the finest food, wine and service that Taipei has to offer. Chef Neil Jamieson is a master of nouvelle cuisine and that artistry is apparent in the meticulously elegant presentation that, despite its beauty, is still first and foremost about pleasing the palates of Taiwan's most discerning diners. If your budget can stomach it, you will also find a range of wines without equal, not only in terms of selection, but also fortunately, in terms of price.

The Numero Uno of Taipei dining establishments has stunning menus priced from NT$2,250 plus 10 percent. While this may seem like a substantial amount, the value for the money over, say, NT$1,800 or even NT$1,500 at a restaurant with vastly inferior standards, makes the decision an easy one for diehard sybarites. Ponder dishes, such as Caramelized Scallops topped with uni, Jerusalem Artichoke Puree and Truffle Froth, Pan-Fried Fish with Sevruga Caviar Sauce on a bed of braised Savoy cabbage, or Roasted Breast of Bresse Pigeon, Magret Duck and Pheasant with Chanterelles. These are just three of the wonderful dishes on a recent eight-course menu. --By Brian Asmus, translated by Cara Steenstra