Good food and feline
By Ian Crews
Translated by Angela Cheng
131, DaDe St, North Dist.
Hours: 10 am-9 pm
No service charge.
Nestled on a quiet residential corner in the North district, Cat's Claw Brunch & Cafe is owner Kurt's (有人's) first foray into the restaurant business. As its name suggests, the cafe's two floors and outdoor patio are the domain of his four cats, who have free reign over everything. Several paintings of the cats--some created and given to the owner by smitten customers--hang on the walls. A number of toys scattered throughout the premises can be used by visitors to entice the cats to play but, cats being cats, there's no guarantee you'll get anything other than a bored or haughty glance for your efforts.
While these felines are the ostensible stars of the show at the cafe, it is actually the food that stands out and, indeed, shares—if not steals—the spotlight. Basically, Cat's Claw is a cafe serving restaurant-quality food. Its menu isn't radically different from other cafes but its execution is. There are waffles, salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, au-gratin dishes, pizzas, and more on offer. Meals are NT$150-300 and recommended items are signified on the menu by a paw print.
For my lunch, a glass of fresh fruit tea started things off, followed by the starters--two pieces of toast and some traditional corn soup (玉米濃湯). As starters go, they're nothing out of the ordinary, but the flavors were: the butter on the toast had a nice hint of garlic to it, and the soup was much more robust than the normal corn soup found around Taiwan, with real croutons, onions, a lot of black pepper, and various herbs. The main course was Seafood Rice Au Gratin, topped with a healthy amount of cheese and a whole baked cuttlefish. Inside were a number of clams and shrimp and, the biggest surprise, squid ink rice. It was everything a seafood dish should be--salty, briny and tasting of the ocean.