I’ve actually only eaten once there, went on a week-end, bright and early at 8am, and took a chance without doing any reservation. Being this early in the day, I was able to “snatch” a table in the almost empty café, but clearly, I was not overstay the limited eating time of 90 minutes because the reservation book looked pretty full.
Owner-and-chef Thomas Chien opened One on Once Café right next door to his eponymous French restaurant, which are both now facing the majestic China Steel Corporation Headquarters building. The restaurant happens to also be right next to the bicycle path which makes it maybe too convenient for bicyclists to get to, because what a surprise it was, when I showed up another morning around 8:30am and found almost all the tables occupied by hungry bicycle riders in their professional sports attire, actively chomping down on their brunch, transforming the classy café into a noisy caféteria, and leaving me no place to enjoy breakfast. In short, reservation is a must!
One on One café is actually open throughout the day, serving brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and also have ready-packed food to go, but let me first introduce you to the brunch part.
Since the clock is ticking as soon as you sit down, I recommend checking the menu which is conveniently available online, before heading there. Once at your table, they hand you a menu sheet, which includes English translations, and leave it up to you to fill in the form for yourself and the rest of your party. Once done, head to the counter where the waiter/ress will go over the order again, and ring you up for it.
Here’s how the brunch is broken down:
cold drink: freshly pressed grapefruit or orange juice, or fresh milk
- a hot or cold drink: freshly pressed grapefruit or orange juice, latte, capuccino or tea
- salad: caesar or french vinagrette, and bread. This is not available if you get the ratatouille or the vegetarian option
- main dish
hot drink: latte, capuccino, or tea
I like that the meal started with the cold drink and ended with the hot one, not like in France, where they usually serve everything at the same time. The grapefruit juice was fresh and cold just as I like it, and would not have minded another cup of it.
Salad is promptly served, I got a taste of the caesar salad from my dining companion, and the dressing sealed the deal for me, actually, it’s that good that they even sell it in their mini delicatessen store. Speciality bread and butter to go along, I’m not complaining.
If I remember well, they’ll actually wait for you to finish the salad before moving on to the main dish. I had ordered the ratatouille, which took forever to come out, arriving almost as my companion enjoyed the last bite of his omelet, but was still excited to be reunited with on of my favorite French dish. Expectations ran high, so obviously, I was potentially setting myself up for disappointment, which to be honest, I ended up being a little.
I was happy to see the elusive zucchini in the cast iron plate, but my heart sank a little when I searched and never found the eggplant. Taiwan doesn’t sell any big and plump eggplant that we are used to in “the West”, but the long and thin variety is found virtually everywhere, sigh. Did they make the ratatouille to order, hence explaining the wait, and forgot the eggplant in the haste? Is the eggplant variety in Taiwan ill-suited for ratatouille? I guess I’ll never know, well, if I can source zucchini at a reasonable price, I will make and attempt at answering the second question :).
By all means, don’t chide away from the dish, it is still very good, but with the absence of eggplant and an egg on the top, the dish is more reminiscent of a shakshouka than of a ratatouille. Put this way, I think I’ve even just convinced myself to order it next time, haha.
The meal ends with coffee or tea, which you can sweeten with some La Perruche sugar that Taiwanese seem to have a fetish for.
All in all, besides the wait for the ratatouille and the eggplant-gate, I very much enjoyed my brunch experience, and highly recommend One on One Café. Good service, good produce, good food, and reasonably priced for what it is.
Oh, and I have to add that the tableware is lovely, very refined, you can tell the owner is into the details.
Update 2014/10: went back recently, the menu has changed a little with the addition of a housemade croissant sandwich with parma ham and some purée topped by grilled cheese, and a house-smoked salmon bagel sandwich. I don’t know if the prices have increased, but they are clearly doing some cost-control by letting diners pick one drink instead of two, like it used to be. I still recommend though!
Name: One One Café
Additional Reviews+Photos: pixnet/biancoparadise, flickr/ikuin, pixnet/chentbtb, pixnet/dogya
Address: No. 11, Chénggōng 2nd Rd, Qianzhen District Kaohsiung City (高雄市前鎮區成功二路11號, 806)
Price: 220+NT (+5% service charge)
Business hours: brunch is served from 8:00-11:00 (check for other meals), closed on the last Monday of the month.
Reservations: highly recommended
Dining time limit: 90 minutes
(last updated: 2014/10/11 六)