The Villa Herbs
By Joan Chang, translated by Ann Lee
Photos by Andy Lin
32, Lane 11, LeLi Rd; (02) 2732-3255
Hours: 6 pm-2 am
(last order at 11 pm)
MRT: LiuZhangLi Station
Credit cards accepted. 10% service charge.
When I first visited The Villa Herbs, I was attracted to the castle-like architecture and the lightly waving trees. An L-shaped creek coiled around the building, seeming like a great moat as it reflected the pale light from torches lit around the courtyard.
In its sixth year of business, this uber-romantic eatery and lounge bar is pleasing customers just as they always have--with class. The compound includes two distinct buildings--the "Herbs" and the "Villa". The brightly-lit Herbs houses the restaurant, whereas the Villa contains a stylish and relaxing lounge bar. A island-style atrium, a gold fish pond and mood lighting separates the two.
The Villa reminds customers of a retro Shanghai, with its bright red walls and ceilings, black leather sofas and wooden cabinets and tables. Antique fans and chandeliers add even more charm to the place. However, the journey to the second floor, where the VIP and party rooms are, takes visitors past the bar with simple, cold colors and shiny sofas--a stark contrast to the classic decor of the previous room. This juxtaposition is an interesting use of space by the owners.
For an extra flavor kick, the chefs here add vanilla leaves and spices, which come straight from the garden upstairs, into all of the dishes. A few popular dishes include Mushrooms with Red Shiso (NT$280), Sliced Fillet Steak with Rosemary (NT$300), Prawns with Saffron and Butter Sauce (NT$600), and Sauteed Broccoli with Foie Gras (NT$160).
Fish, the bartender, can create something fancy for any taste. Into Autumn (NT$300) is made with vodka, lemon juice and aboriginal "small rice wine" (Xiao Mi Jiu). Fish says the drink's sour beginning but sweet aftertaste represents "the shy farmer and his joy of the harvest". Another recommended beverage at The Villa is the Seductive Peach Red & Amour (NT$300), which is made with mulberry liquor and cranberry juice.
Now, on certain days of the week, you can enjoy a 30% discount when you buy two cocktails. In addition, purchase one bottle of whiskey to get 50% off. On Wednesday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., enjoy all-you-can-drink cocktails for NT$599.