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Mary's Home: A very good thing in a small package

By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu

273, DaDun 6th St, Nantun Dist
(04) 2471-3208
Hours: 12-2:30 pm, 6-9:30 pm dinner starts 5:30 pm Fri-Sun; sometimes closed Tuesdays)
English menu
Credit cards not accepted.
No service charge.

In a city teeming with thousands of dining choices, it would be easy to miss Mary's Home, a 20-seat restaurant almost hidden just off of WenXin Road, Section 1. But that would be a big shame, because this cozy culinary refuge offers not only top-grade cuisine, but also a quaintly-decorated, placid escape from the world outside.

Mary's House is a "mom-and-pop" operation in one sense, being solely run by Chef Chen Hung-yi and his wife Chen Mei-shan. However, there's nothing small-time about the food, thanks to the chef's 25 years of experience working at the Taichung Evergreen Laurel Hotel, The Ritz Landis Taipei and other top establishments.

In the one-plus year that the restaurant has been open, the Chen's menu of European country-style entrees has evolved, gaining a good following of regular fans along the way. Favorites range from the Farm Style Honey Roasted Chicken with candied onions (NT$420), with French origins, to the Roasted Pork Knuckle German Style (NT$480) and Pan-Fried Duck Breast with orange and brandy sauce (NT$560), a dish that needs time and experience to do right, according to the chef.

Chef Chen enjoys adding California-style Asian twists—mostly spices and sauces—to his mostly French-Italian cuisine, with natural, healthy ingredients usually including the organic veggies he grows himself in Taichung's Houli district. Among the pasta entrees, one that an American friend fell in love with right away was the Pasta with Mushrooms and Fried Chicken with Tomato Sauce (NT$240), while this writer savored a rare chance to enjoy some rigatoni pasta in the Rigatoni with Parma Ham and Shrimp with Cream Sauce (NT$240). All non-pasta main courses include bread, salad, soup, dessert and drink, while adding NT$90 to the pasta items will add a soup and drink.

This inviting oasis is decorated with deep yellow and orange walls, knickknack-laden shelves and framed pictures of friends, customers, past colleagues, and Mary—the couple's pet Shiba dog—who is usually present in the evening and, judging by the photos, gets plenty of attention from diners. The Chens say that well-behaved small-medium-size dogs—just like Mary—are welcome, too.

小巧溫馨的瑪莉小館 小巧溫馨的瑪莉小館
Left: Pan-Fried Duck chest w/orange & brandy Sauce (NT$620)
Right: Roasted Pork Knuckle w/Germany Style (NT$530)

小巧溫馨的瑪莉小館 小巧溫馨的瑪莉小館
Left: Roasted Herb Beef Ribs w/ Pepper Sauce "California Style" (NT$580)
Right: Rigatoni with Parma Ham and Shrimp with Cream Sauce (NT$240)

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