I was pretty tired when I got back from Mendoza the other night, so lamed out and ate in the ‘restaurant’ at my pretty low-grade hotel. The starter was surprisingly good - camarones al pil pil. After two days and nights of heavy gourmet eating I plumped for chicken and chips, and it was fittingly rubbish.
I have a very early start tomorrow, and I can’t be arsed to go out. I lame out again, and walk up the six flights of stairs once more. What follows is a transcript from the notebook I take to the table with me every time I dine alone:
Prawns nowhere near as good as the other night. Worse though, they’re clearly under pressure. My beer takes twenty minutes. They forget the bread. When they eventually bring it from the warming oven it is a) burnt and b) cold.
Waiting for my main course of grilled pomfret (reineta), I am anxiously hopping about in my chair trying to attract the mozo’s attention and remind him about that second beer I ordered, back when I didn’t have a beard.
I flick through the food diary, and notice how often I begin my reviews with an assessment of a restaurant’s "promise". The lower the expectation, the better the result. I begin writing my review in my head; “I have absolutely no expectations whatsoever of my meal. Normally this would be a good thing, but not tonight: I have eaten here before”.
The waiter appears carrying a plate of food and I actually take the Lord’s name in vain, out loud. My laughter subsides shortly after he walks past to another table, but the sense of foreboding does not.
My fish arrives, dumped unceremoniously in the middle of a slightly grubby plate, with nothing else for company. Jesus H. Christ. The first mouthful stops me laughing. I must be imagining things. I try again. Nope. Heavenly.
Even a blind squirrel stumbles upon the occasional nut.