I should probably write a series about embarrassing restaurant scenarios. Two weeks ago, I managed to (almost!) walk out of a restaurant without paying half my bill because I didn’t count up my bank notes correctly. Had it been a terrible restaurant, it might have been less unforgivable, but I’d actually intended to leave a decent tip!
That little crisis averted, last Friday I arrived at Brasserie Bark – an old-school French brasserie in the museum quarter – announced my booking at the front desk, and plonked myself down at a table for five. Two minutes later, I was looking around wondering where my friends had got to… when one of them sneaked up and tapped me on the shoulder: “Care to join the rest of us, Vicky?” asked one, pointing to another table for five at which everyone else was already sitting. Embarrassing restaurant scenario #2: sitting on your own waiting for the rest of your group while they’re at another table all along.
Anyhooo… I crashed on with dinner, and after a few glasses of wine my embarrassment was all forgotten. Meanwhile, there was the food to think about. Brasserie Bark’s menu seemed to favour fish, so I opted for a pescatarian dinner of scallops followed by lobster. The scallops came with a buttery sauce and a sort of loaf-shaped slice of something that was supposed to involve cauliflower but tasted more like a Spanish potato tortilla. Perfectly pleasant, but not what I was expecting.
I almost never order lobster, but I’d seen them in the tank on the way in (something you never really see in restaurants anymore, I have the feeling? Maybe it upsets the kids…); the menu was also shouting “lobster!” at me (lobster with butter, lobster with hollandaise, lobster half or lobster whole) to the point that I could no longer resist… I finally settled on a half lobster gratinated with hollandaise sauce. I guess I’d kind of imagined that the gratinated element would be separate from the hollandaise element (baked hollandaise tastes a bit like quiche filling) but, again, it was more unexpected than unpleasant. It came with an equally unexpected slightly spicy, slightly Asian-flavoured rice pilaf, which went better than you’d think.
My friends (now that I’d deigned to – you know – actually sit with them) reported fresh fruit de mer, quality carpaccio, and generous portions of redfish. All that protein wasn’t cheap, though – we were looking at €66 each including wine – but then again we didn’t exactly order the cheapest things on the menu.
After dinner we headed to a cocktail bar, where we unwittingly managed to steal someone else’s table reservation. But that’s a story for embarrassing restaurant scenario #3…