at Sherwood Hotel
111, Min Sheng E. Road, Sec. 3,
MRT: Zhong Shan Jr. High School
Kid friendliness: high chairs available. fine hotel dining atmosphere.
Visit reviewed: 6/11/2011
When I first started this blog almost six (!) years ago, I had never heard of or knew about Michelin stars, palate cleansers or foie gras, much less experienced that kind of fine “wining and dining.” Even Top Chef wasn’t on the air back then to teach us about amuse-bouches and sous vide!
But after many seasons of Top Chef and the Food Network and blogging, I’ve picked up enough to not feel out of place at those fancy restaurants. And after eating my way around Taipei (and a few other countries here and there), I still believe that a meal that costs $1 can taste as good as something that costs $100. Good food is good food, no matter what. (After all, a high price tag doesn’t guarantee good food!)
If you can afford to splurge, then you should make your reservations at Toscana while Chef Nicola Batavia is a guest chef there, from June 8- June 24th. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Taipei Sherwood Hotel where I enjoyed an amazing meal and got to peek in the busy kitchen. His dishes are available as sets or ala carte, for lunch or dinner.
So many parts of the meal were so memorable, but hands down, this was my favorite dish of the night- split pea soup with brown sugar flavored foie gras.
The startling bright green soup had a sweetness and almost milky texture, not grainy at all from my previous experiences with split pea soups. The sweetness was accented by the carmelized brown sugar on top of the creamy foie gras which was cut into a super thin layer that might be mistaken for a crouton. It was the perfect amount, which means I savored each bite and after I was finished I was left wanting more.
Everyone oohed when the monkfish, parma ham and potatoes served with red piedmont sauce and pistachio and crispy onions with the vertical plating. I thought the onion rings were a little out of place tasteon the dish, but I ate them on the side. It was also my first time having monkfish, which surprisingly had a shellfish springiness and taste to it. It didn’t flake like fish, rather it was firm and sweet like lobster.
I was also impressed with the creativity of the pearl barley dish. Most of the time, vegetarian options are a creamy pasta tossed up with mushrooms or sliced bell peppers, or veggie pizza, but all the elaborate dishes in the set course were unlike any other vegetarian dishes I’d seen before. It’s too bad my mom wasn’t in Taipei, as I would have treated her to it to see what she thought, as she’s been vegetarian for over 20 years.
Lots of wine on the table, as Gianni Gagliardo red and white wines were paired with the various dishes.
The meal was a taste of Italy transported to Taipei and Chef Batavia’s light touch on all the dishes showcased the quality ingredients and made for a memorable meal. I don’t always get to hear about these special events, but I’m glad I caught this one. Toscana also offers a luxe weekend brunch and a big salad/antipasti/dessert spread for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. Maybe I’ll have to return before it’s over for a bowl of soup.