By Jerri Graham
98, YanPing South Rd., 2F
Hours: 11 am-11 pm
(first Monday of the month rest)
Credit cards accepted. 10% service charge.
MRT: XiMen exit 5
On a recent afternoon, the cloth-covered tables
of the Fortress Cafe were occupied with a few
lingering diners. The light that filtered in through
two large-paned windows warmed the wood floors
of the room and made this XiMenDing cafe a haven
from the world below.
The manager showed us to a table next to the
bar and within minutes we received a beautifully
presented plate of tapas. The day's tapas plate
(NT$250) featured thin slices of French bread
drizzled with olive oil and served with marinated
anchovies and an olive tapinade. A dish of mushrooms
stir-fried in a tangy and sweet balsamic vinegar
sauce were nestled next to a pile of field greens
and slivers of red onions. We washed it down with
a glass of made-to-order sangria. The best part
was the pitted and peeled lychee at the bottom
of the glass. It had soaked up just enough wine
to give this Spanish-inspired, Taiwan-influenced
cocktail the perfect little kick.
Next up was the Seafood Paella (NT$350). It is
served in a cast iron skillet with pieces of chicken,
squid and prawns that are large enough to require
a fork and knife--this isn't the imitation paella
some restaurants try to flog. Using imported saffron
and spices, the chef has achieved a balance of
flavors that few can pull off. An array of red
peppers, tomatoes, and a Taiwan twist of soybeans
are folded into the brightly colored rice, making
it mouthwateringly beautiful.
As any lunch would not be complete without dessert,
so we ordered the Blueberry Cheesecake (NT$150).
The cheesecake is served next to a hand-sized
flower created with a melange of fruit syrups.
This is cheesecake that isn't eaten, but sensually
experienced. A scrape of the tines in the raspberry,
kiwi, and chocolate sauces, in addition to the
popping blueberries of the cheesecake, took my
mouth to a new high.
Fortress Cafe serves up beautifully presented
meals in sizes that won't have you reaching for
the top button of your 501s and at prices that
won't leave you skint. The food, atmosphere and
presentation make going back to the Fortress Cafe
not a matter of if, but when.