Dec 12, 2010

Second Floor Cafe 貳樓餐廳


Price Range:   $$$
Accepts Credit Cards: maybe
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  yes
Alcohol: no


Food Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Decor:  4.5 out of 5
Service: 4 out of 5
Overall: 4 out of 5
Recommendation: Well decorated Cafe serving "American" Cuisine

In the lanes around the front entrance of NTU, Second Floor Cafe recently opened its doors to the area serving American food in its quaint and clean cafe space. What impressed me most about the place is their decor, how they designed each corner of the diner with rustic earthy themes, and how they maintain its cleanliness. They serve a wide variety of "American Cuisine" from Quesadilla's to Spagetti. The items may be a bit pricey especially if you make each entree a set meal in comparison to their competition in the area. However, price does not seem to be a problem as this place was packed during dinnertime over the weekend. When I pass by I notice that they have a steady client flow. This place is very popular among the young female demographic. Second Floor Cafe is a great place to hang out over a light meal.
If you come on the weekend during dinner, you are probably going to be seated in their waiting area until a table pops up for you. It roughly takes 30 minutes to get seated during peak hours. The interior is decorated pretty well, and their waiting area is actually comfortable. You can leave your cellphone number to the host if you want to take a light stroll outside.
First floor seating is not very impressive, but since I was not seating upstairs I did not go up and take pictures. I liked the upstairs seating area a lot better, and I would make sure I was seated upstairs for dining next time. The booths are padded well, so that you can be comfortable, and the chairs are too. This makes the restaurant an easy place to relax and chill for a longer time than at less comfortable places. I noticed the rustic theme while staring at the space and the artifacts, and really appreciated their attention to making the space cozy, personal, and earthy. Their service staff was very courteous, helpful, and prompt. They even ask you how you thought of the meal, which adds a personal element to the dining experience.

Unfortunately, the food was not as good as I expected. The price was also a little disproportional to what I felt it was worth. I got the Fettucine with shrimp set meal. The meal cost 500 NT, and I did not think it was really worth that much. 

 The salad came up first, and I expected it to be this half-assed attempt at mixing vegetables and drizzling sauce. They cut their lettuce better, but there were still the occassional "too big for a single bite" chunk. This salad was iceberg lettuce tossed with croutons, iced cherry tomatoes, and stuck-together raisins. Not a very impressive salad, at 500 NT, I should at least be getting some cheesecake factory caliber fare.
The garlic bread was not very garlicky, but I appreciate the olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. It made the not so garlicky bread palatable. The bread itself was on the border of being fluffly or hard. It was not bad in texture; just a wished they toasted it with some more garlic butter or something.
The meal came with a drink, and I chose the milk tea. They give you the creme, sugar, and tea bag, so you can control the 3 flavors to your liking. Their drinks seem to be a strong point to this establishment.
Their soup is better the average soup I have tasted. They used more butter to make the corn soup creamier and more savory. Still not very chowdery, but I guess chowders are not that popular in Taiwan. The had a good amount of corn and ham bits to give the soup some additional texture and flavor. The bread on the top was not flakey and crispy enough though, so it ended up being this doughy mess underneath a crispier outer membrane. That is not very cool: and the evidence is seen from the picture. Notice the shiny doughy interior below the crispty 1 cm thick membrane. It was a fail, and it would have been better if they just served the soup in a regular bowl.
The main entree is this fettucini with shrimp. The plating was ok, they tried to make it look classy by sprinkling cayenne pepper and green powder all over the rim (Christmas Theme?). Yet that did not bedazzle me to look at the actual substance. I would say that their pasta is good, but I ordered the wrong dish for myself. The fettucini with shrimp is too dense and buttery even for me. It is as dense as the Cheesecake factory pastas, which require a lot of liquids to wash down the oils. Personally, I felt the portions were too big, not cheesecake factory big, but still more than I could handle alone. The shrimp tasted fresh and the flavors were strong, but it was too overbearing and was easy to get sick of fast. The noodles themselves were cooked a good al dente, however the dense sauce caused the noodles to seem dry and not slurpable.
I will need to try more entrees at this place, and hopefully raise the food quality grade. I want to like this place, but I am being presented with a sub-par set meal for the price. I can go to House 202, and get a set meal for half the price with similar items.

I was so excited about this place that I even went all out to try their cheesecake. It tasted more like a strawberry jam pound cake though. The notes of cheese were too subtle to pick up. The strawberry jam and whipped cream dominates and carried this dessert, which would have been very bland without them. I do not recommend the cheese cake either. So far only the drinks seemed to be ok about this place. It's a shame because I really enjoyed the atmosphere. I will need to try the other items and see if they redeem this cafe.

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