Local cafe Red On Tree wouldn’t be at all out of place in London or Vancouver. They specialize in artisanal jam, which they sell by the jar or serve with yogurt and housemade scones. But they’re most famous for their gourmet house-made gelatos and sorbets, which they make using their jams as a base and serve European-style, expertly paddled into a flower shape. But in spite of their Euro-American packaging, Red On Tree is faithful to its Taiwanese roots, featuring a menu that’s almost exclusively made up of local ingredients.
Even the coffee here is locally-grown! This is the first place I’ve seen in Taipei featuring Taiwanese coffee!
The house-made jams and preserves are the base for the entire menu. Pastries and yogurts are served with a side of jam, fruit drinks are flavoured with jam, and the fruit ice creams and sorbets are made with a jam base.
今天的冰品口味為: 紅龍果雪酪、檸檬雪酪、花椒鳳梨冰淇淋、原味牛奶冰淇淋、香草鮮奶冰淇淋及草莓冰淇淋。店員沒有提供試吃。我對花椒鳳梨口味特別感興趣，因為我從來沒看過花椒用在冰淇淋上! 店員向我推薦檸檬跟紅龍果雪酪，說可以幫我做一個花椒鳳梨、紅龍果跟檸檬，共有三款口味的冰淇淋花朵。但結帳時，他向我再次確認說，「好，一個大的冰淇淋，檸檬跟香草口味，總額是180元。」等等，這不是我點的! 我再提醒他我選的口味—-花椒鳳梨、紅龍果加檸檬。發現了這個小誤會以後就順利結帳再去樓上找位子等待冰淇淋送過來，還好沒有意外地點到NT$180的錯誤。
Today’s ice cream flavours are red dragonfruit sorbet, lemon sorbet, pineapple and Sichuan pepper gelato, fresh milk gelato, vanilla gelato, and strawberry gelato. No samples were offered. I was especially intrigued by the pineapple and Sichuan pepper gelato – I’ve never seen Sichuan pepper in ice cream before! The staff recommended the lemon and red dragonfruit sorbets and offered to make me a tri-color flower with pineapple, dragonfruit and lemon. Then, while ringing up my order, he checked with me again: “so one double cone with vanilla and lemon, that’s 180 Taiwan dollars.” Wait, no! I reminded him of my order – lemon, pineapple and dragonfruit – and then went to my table to wait for my order, relieved that we’d cleared up the misunderstanding before I was served a $180 mistake.
Ten minutes later, my cone was served – a beautiful, perfect rose perched atop an elegant, narrow black waffle cone.
….a beautiful, perfect, lemon and vanilla rose. NT$180.
I’m not sure how they managed to mix up my order twice – I guess there was a miscommunication between the staff. To be honest, I was so distracted trying to capture the gorgeous rose with my crappy iPhone 4S that I didn’t even realize they’d got my order wrong until I was a few bites in. I considered asking the staff to change it for me, – they’d been super friendly, and I’m sure they’d have been happy to fix their mistake – but I decided to just eat it anyway. A rose by any other flavour would taste as sweet, right?
First, the vanilla gelato. This is a really nice, light gelato – not too sweet and not too fatty, with a clean, pure vanilla taste. Nothing special, but very nice.
Next, the lemon sorbet. It seems to be made entirely from fuit juice, no zest – a very pure and simple lemon sorbet, quite tart. Mixed with the vanilla, it tasted a lot like lemon meringue pie. I missed the complexity of the zest, though.
The cone is really nice, too. I forgot to ask what they put in it to give it its black colour – I expect it’s probably flavourless bamboo charcoal. The waffle was pleasantly dense and crisp.
Overall, Red On Tree is definitely upscale – maybe more suitable for a long afternoon tea with friends than a casual ice cream cone on a hot day. The space is pleasant and relaxing, with minimalist decor, natural light, and a nice view of the park across the street. Even if it’s a little pricey for everyday ice cream cravings, Red On Tree is definitely worth a visit if you want to score some gift-worthy Taiwan fruit jam or treat yourself to fancy ice cream made from quality local ingredients.
Red On Tree | 在欉紅本鋪
Address: No. 8, Lane 192, Section 2, Jinshan South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City
Phone: (02) 2391 2978
MRT: Guting Station
Hours: 12:00 to 20:00 daily
Price: NT$90 and up