Jun 28, 2011

A3 Bar & Restaurant


Address: 台北市信義區松仁路28號1F
                 No 28, Song Ren Rd., Taipei, Taiwan
Phone #: 02-8729-2866
Business Hours: 7:30-00:00
Website: http://www.bellavita.com.tw/store.php?d=69
Price Range:   $$$
Accepts Credit Cards: yes
Attire: casual
Good for kids: yes
Take out: yes
Waiter Service: yes
Outdoor seating:  no
Alcohol: yes


Food Quality: 4 out of 5
Decor:  4 out of 5
Service: 5 out of 5
Overall: 4.3 out of 5
Recommendation: Elegant place for afternoon tea, dinner, evening drink.


A3 is an modern bar and restaurant situated in the elegant Bellavita shopping center in the Sin Yi district. The dining space has a contemporary and retro chic design with the black and white checkerboard flooring. The service here is impeccable. You will feel catered from the moment you walk in. However, the prices here are are a little high, but I feel it is worth what you pay for. This is a great place to visit for a relaxing afternoon tea or a late night snack over some well concocted cocktails.

The dining space is sleek, modern, and posh. They have comfortable sofa chairs to lounge on the 1st floor and dining tables for proper meals on the 2nd floor. The checkerboard flooring is reminiscent of the 50's. The 50's were a classy time when gentlemen wore suits around town and ladies were treated and acted like ladies. You will immediately feel the class and feel like you were transported to another world. You already know that this restaurant will meet a certain standard as it is located Bellavita. Bellavita is known to be a upscale department store that offers the most exquisite of items. They have Aoki serving up innovative Japan-French fusion desserts alongside an array of impressive "food court" restaurants on the B2 floor. They have 4 floors of designer stores and a exclusive hair salon. It is no doubt that A3 is also recognized to be up to that standard.
I went for afternoon tea, so during this time, most of the patrons were in the 2nd floor area enjoying a good time of snacking and chatting. The table set up up here is also very comfortable. The padding on the chairs make you want to lounge here forever. The service here sets the bar high in the Taipei dining scene. Once I entered a server opened the door for me to enter and asked me if I had a reservation and I was led promptly to my table. The 1st floor server walked me toward the 2nd floor service who seamlessly guided mr toward my spot with the same warm and energetic service. I really felt welcomed and catered by their service staff and they were quick to introduce us with the menu, answer our questions, and move us along in our afternoon tea experience. I have been here mostly in the evening for drinks and snacks, and I get the same impression in terms of their service. They are not overstaffed and they run a good operation with services communicating via headsets. A3 offers the best service i've experienced in Taipei to date. I give them pretty high ratings in both decor and service, but onto the food.
The prices here are comparable to Joyce East, however there are two options for the afternoon tea sets. Today we tried the least expensive 960 NT High Tea set, but there is an even more baller one for 1920 NT and will try that on some other date. The 960 NT comes with 3-tiers of deliciousness. You get salty food items on the top, an assortment of  baked items in the middle, and a hodge podge of desserts on the bottom.
The top tier comes with a delicious slider, a ham and cheese sandwich, and a tuna sandwich roll.
The middle tier consists of scones, raisin muffins, and matcha muffins.
The final tier has this chocolate-hazelnut cake, a pecan tart, cheesecake, and a layered crunchy pastry that is like a reconstructed strawberry pie.
I strongly recommend that you come in even numbers, because I was the odd man out. And, being a gentlemen I opted to sacrificially order the single tea set for 480 NT and suffer its lesser glory. However the individual set is not bad at all. It comes with this plate of delights and a coffee/tea drink of your choice. Ok fine..the 3 tier set for 960 NT is a better deal than this lonely looking 480 NT plate of treats. I got to try some of the items from the tier so I did not complain in the end. But that brings me to an important point; make sure that you come with an even number so somebody doesn't feel shortchanged. The items on this plate were so intricate and flavorful that it you really don't enough.
The first item that is recurrent in their tiers is this slider. It looks quite barren, but they do have a slice of pickle and a slice of tomato between the puffy buns all held together by some light mustard. The patty was very flavorful, the meat was tender had a good bite to it. It was not dry, and the burger held the meat juices well. Altogther the toppings blended with the meat and the bun making this one bite such a tease. If they served burgers here as a main entree, I can believe it would be one hell of a burger.
Next in line is this tuna sandwich roll topped with cumcumber and caviar. The caviar doesn't really add much to the taste because the tuna overpowers most of the bite. It adds more texture to the item with a little bursting elasticity with the bite. Similarly, the cucumber just adds a light refreshing crunch to contrast the soft pillowly bread and mushy Tuna in the middle. I really enjoyed it and its interesting shape. My mother used to make these sushi sandwiches for me for lunch and these reminded me of simplier times.
This next item is hidden under a lightly baked and thin apple slice. It is a fried scallop which is perfectly golden brown. It is crunchy enough and the inside is a hot scallop that retained its flavor and freshness in its breaded prison. They top the fried scallop of with this buttery tartar saucish drizzle that had some minced mushrooms in the mix. This item was also interesting as I took the whole thing in one bite and the layers of flavors and textures unfolded in my mouth. The whole bite had a hint of the apple but the sauce dominated sauce until you bite through the crunchy breading with bursts forth the scallops. The scallopinesss surprise you for a while until the other ingredients start to coalesce. An excellent hors d'oeuvre.
Onto the more sugary stuff. This is a pecan tart...I think. I just remember it to taste like a pecan pie, but with a crunchier crust and a less pronounced sauce. This was not my favorite dessert item here, but it was not horrible. I am not really sure if it was pecan, but it was some sort of nut. I ate this first because I tend to eat what I least like first.
This item was a piece of work. It is kind of like a reconstructed strawberry pie. The bottom is a layered pastry kind of like a baklava. Custard and a strawberry topped on the pastry, then the whole thing is sprinkled with confectioner's sugar. I could keep popping these over coffee forever. The pastry itself is so delightlfully crispy, buttery, and sugary that they could already be chomped on by themselves.Mix in some rich custard and fresh strawberries then you got yourself a heavenly bite.
Last but not least, the Crème brûlée. I ate this one last because I thought that this would be the one that topped it all off. I was wrong. It was good, the custard was rich and flavorful with the right amount of sugar. The small grapes were an interesting touch, but I did not care for the mint garnish. The only real problem I had with this is the bad job they did on carmelizing the sugar on top. Who wants to eat a creme brulee if it does not have a hearty and evenly spread flake of carmleized sugar coating the top? What I received was sparsely carmelized. You get parts where the sugar transformed into a planar carmel crust, but there were regions on custard that had brown sugar chunks chilling there unscathed. I could allow some survivers on top of a perfectly flambeed carmelized crust, but not straight chilling on my custard with a first degree burn. This item would be improved a lot if they had a even carmel crust.
I also chose the carmel macchiato to accompany in my journey. I believe it may have altered my palate by weakening the level sweetness of the desserts, but I am sure it complented the more salty items, especially the tuna sandwich. This is also has a very unique latte art because it looks as if they make a pentagram out of carmel. I hope they made this satanic symbol on accident, but I guess they thought a circle with a star inside was pretty or cute. The drink itself was very mildly bitter and very sufficiently milky and sugary. I used to down caramel machiattos like mad, and it was good to have a controlled portion of goodness in a cup like I had here. The china they used was great thin porcelain. The porcelain helped with the texture of the coffee and it was an excellent instrument to use. The teas seemed to be delightful as well, but I am a coffee guy. I had a great time having high ttea at A3 and I recommend you to give it a try as well.
There are other hidden highlights at this place like this wine dispenser. There are only 3 of them in Taiwan and one of them is located here in A3. They keep the wine good for 2 weeks, so patrons can sample them by the glass here. I actually have had the opportunity to dine on a 3 tiered appetizer platter here one evening and it consisted of fried foods, sandwich items, and cheese. It went well with the bottle of sweet white wine and fresh oysters. A3 is connected with the Oyster bar downstairs in the second floor basement, and so you can order fresh oysters flown in from france here as well. I recommend this place not only as a good afternoon tea place, but also as a relaxing lounge for elegant bites and fine drinks. A3 restaurant and bar is a special gem admist the glamourous dining choices around it in the Sin Yi District.

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