Of all of the restaurants I’ve ever eaten in, one shines among 5-star restaurants and upscale eateries.  It is a very humble restaurant, burrowed into a rundown building on Beechhurst Ave in Morgantown.  That restaurant is Lavender Cafe.

Lavender Cafe is a Taiwanese restaurant.  It is the only Taiwanese restaurant in town, and in the few short years it has been around, it has been an amazing success story.  It replaced a small Chinese takeout place, and completely remodeled the inside, painting the walls bright colors, putting in nice tables and chairs, and rolling out a large and diverse menu.  In a town with multiple greasy Chinese takeout places, Lavender shines like a beacon, providing tasty Asian-style dishes without the grease and careless put-together.

The menu is a mix of American-Chinese (like General Tso’s Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork), real Chinese, some Japanese, some Korean, and some Taiwanese cuisine.  They also offered a variety of bubble teas.  Later on, after enjoying great success, Lavender Cafe expanded into the neighboring unit and opened a modest sushi bar.  The restaurant is consistently packed.

Mat and I have been going to this restaurant roughly since they opened.  We watched the restaurant grow in it’s success, then expand both it’s store front and it’s menu, and eventually offering delivery through phone and DubVMenus.com.  We have eaten there so much that we are greeted warmly by the staff, and they often stop at our table to chat.  They know our favorites and preferences.  We always feel welcome there.

The food is always piping hot by the time it reaches us, and the plating is artistic and makes the meal appear even more delicious.  They will bring side plates for you and those you are eating with, if you would like, so you can share.  The food is perfectly spiced, and there was never a dish I’ve eaten off their menu that was badly done.  I didn’t always like the taste of the meal, though that is no fault of the restaurants, merely my own palate.  Ingredients are always fresh.  Prices are reasonable.  Everything is perfect.

I am fond of the Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup, which is apparently Taiwanese.  It hits the spot in the cold West Virginia winters, and it comes in generous portions.  It is made with firm egg noodles, baby bok choy, and wontons made with shrimp and pork, all in a rich broth.  I snapped a picture at Lavender the last time I was there.

Mat is fond of the Assorted Meat and Vegetable Hot Pot.  This dish is one of their finer masterpieces.  Your entree arrives in front of you still sizzling in an earthenware pot.  The veggies are still crisp and delicious, while the meats are cooked to perfection, all in a rich sauce that compliments each portion of the dish.

I apologize for the crappy iPhone pics, but I don’t normally carry my camera.

The only problem with Lavender Cafe is the parking.  Lavender Cafe shares parking with the neighboring Papa Johns and Campus Cuts.  The parking lot is small to begin with, and on nights where Lavender is boasting a great night, parking can be scarce.  The idea of parking elsewhere is a scary thought in Morgantown, with tow trucks prowling like wolves.  The staff say you can park behind the building, but parking there is not clearly marked, and it makes me anxious to park there.

All in all, I highly recommend Lavender Cafe.  The dishes are superb and reasonably priced for generous portions.  The restaurant decor is relaxing and cheery, and the staff are all very welcoming.  This is the place to go.

Lavender Cafe on Urbanspoon