agnès b. café L.P.G., Eslite Mall – 信義誠品店, Taipei

After a year or so, I finally made it to the agnès b. café L.P.G. (Le Pain Grillé), an outlet which is located at the Eslite Mall in Taipei, also known as 信義誠品店, one of the well-known bookstores in Taipei. It is well-connected to the Taipei City Hall subway station, where you can walk through the basement food hall of Hankyu Department store directly to the basement of Eslite Mall, and find it on the ground level in a corner that also opens out onto the street. The bookstore is on level two where the Eslite Cafe is located (which I tried last year and found it not bad with its tea break offerings and Lavazza coffee), and on the ground and basement levels, there are some pretty cool-looking clothing stores/counters. Of course, my main aim was to check out the cafe, especially since I have still yet to regain my shopping mood/inspiration that has gone astray long before. Last year when I was in Taipei in June, this was one of the places I wanted to check out, unfortunately the day that I visited, it was closed for some shooting, which was why I ventured upstairs and found the Eslite Cafe. This time, as we concluded our work slightly earlier and had a couple of free hours before our flight home, I thought that I could grab this chance to visit, and my two colleagues decided to join me since they didn’t have any better ideas where to go to pass time.

On a Friday afternoon, this place was relatively quiet and peaceful, even though we got there right about past 12. I guess most people would be having a proper lunch, either at the food courts/outlets elsewhere, or having takeaways in their offices (which seems like what a lot of Taiwanese office peeps do). There was a rather massive queue at Starbucks that was also on the ground level but at the other flank of the building. Anyway, it was good for us since it meant it was easy to find a table. The cafe isn’t sprawling, there is this counter that you see here, stocked with very attractive but relatively pricey agnes b. stuff, including mugs and cookies, etc., and in front of the counter would be the tables and chairs, probably at most 20 small tables in total.

I had the cappuccino, despite just having a Starbucks cafe latte while I was at the office, because I just had to have coffee in a cafe, that’s me. And because it was lunch time, and because I am in a cafe and need to order some food, I chose their cute-looking muffins over the sandwiches or pastries/cakes, even though those were the main highlight in the display case.

I don’t think the coffee is fabulous, but it isn’t bad either; it’s just ok. It’s not that kind of coffee where you’d drink and go “woah” whether that exclamation is due to it being exceptionally good or bad. I really need to start improving on my memory of how things taste, or at least make a note to jot down on the spot what I think of the food and drinks I have had, instead of just relying on my unreliable memory and which in the absence of, I can only fall back on whether I felt it was terribly good or bad.

The muffin was a good choice though. I chose it because it looked nice and small, a size where I wouldn’t feel like I am overindulging in carbohydrates like most other muffins tend to be. But after I was done with it, I just wanted more. The muffin isn’t dense and moist like some baked stuff tend to be, or dry and crumbly like how I dislike muffins to be, it was in a state of being just nice. And this was an oat-bran flavour that I have a bias towards these days. My taste buds have grown to not fancy things that are overtly sweet in general (for most foodstuff anyway), and this wasn’t sweet. I used to, and still, like blueberry-flavoured muffins but because blueberry is a fruit and some places probably use syrup or sweetened blueberry jam or something to bake the muffins (I don’t really know actually), they can become really sweet. Where oat bran is concerned, it gives the muffin a flavour without becoming sweet, plus I can delude myself to thinking that it is actually a healthy choice.

Both my colleagues aren’t coffee drinkers like the addict that I am, and one of them ordered the hot chocolate and quiche. She commented that the quiche was nice but it was too cheesy, so she ended up not finishing it, even though it really wasn’t that huge. Quiches have started to become another of my downfalls, hmm, seems like my list of kryptonite is getting longer and longer, urgh, I have to start culling it. But I didn’t try the quiche so I don’t know, cheese is generally ok for me, but I have encountered situations where I have also start feeling overwhelmed when there is too much cheese or when the quiche is too creamy due to the egg.

The other colleague didn’t order any food, but got this instead. I don’t really know what it is because I hadn’t asked, but it does look pretty nice, and of course, sinful, doesn’t it? With the froth and a dollop of whipped cream on top!

Overall, the agnes b. cafe experience in Taipei was good, and I suspect that the circumstances had a part to play in it as well, since it wasn’t crowded when I was there and it was the end of a work trip just before heading home. Everything felt good at that point. The next time I am in Taipei, if I were to have the opportunity to visit the cafe again, I will probably try the other food items. Or if I happen to visit Hong Kong, I will need to make a trip to one of their agnes b. cafes too!

utilitarian

I thought I’d share some nuggets of information on the bags that I have. I would admit that there are some bags that I bought at hefty price tags and never got to use them much for various reasons, but there were those that I believe were indeed great buys. This is one of them:

I bought this bag in 2006 from Hong Kong whilst on a business trip, and the best thing about it was that it cost slightly below S$200. Yet from the time I got it until now, which has been about 4 years, this is one of my most-used bags. Other than bringing it to the gym or to yoga class (because it can contain a lot of things and has numerous compartments that I absolutely love about it), even on work days, I use it frequently for travelling. It is great for travel firstly due to what I’ve mentioned before about the pockets and slots, and it is pretty light so it takes a lot to make the bag heavy. It also sits comfortably on the shoulder, where there’s a leather strip with a button that keeps the 2 top handles together so they don’t slip off your shoulder, which happens to a lot of my other double-handled bags. Plus, there is a long adjustable strap that you can use for carrying it messenger bag-style cross-body for a more casual look.

I also adore the beige/black combination of colours that goes well with most clothes that I have (which is white, black and recently grey by the way haha). Looking at the bags that I own, I realised that they are mainly black, brown/cream/beige, and blue. I don’t know what got into me to get so many bags in various shades of blue but just a quick recap and I can already name at least 5 blue ones. Ok, actually I do have a couple of colourful ones, a pink bag, a white bag, a dark purple, a dark grey… and I think that’s about it. No reds, no greens, no yellows or oranges… so I gather I prefer muted colours where bags are concerned, no bright colours because they will typically be more for an occasion-use rather than rank high on versatility – one of my main considerations when I buy a bag.

So there you have it, the first (and easily my most loved) of my Agnes B. bags. 🙂

*oh I have 2 friends with the same bag, but one in black and the other in purple!