So before last night I was being a little stingy and holding off going to a restaurant (at least - until I had more than a 20 euro note in my hand to last me a week). But when a friend of mine invited me out to a restaurant with a bunch of his uni friends I couldn’t help but tag along for the ride. I rocked up to the “Hebrew Italian” joint at around 10pm and thought it looked a bit dodgy, but proceeded to order the seafood pasta after staring blankly at the menu for a good 20 minutes. (Because seafood is a good thing to order in a dodgy-looking restaurant?! What was I thinking?) But being a lover of prawns, I couldn’t resist. The only thing that slightly concerned me was the translation on the menu in English which said “like shrimps”. What? So it’s not actually shrimp, it’s just like shrimp? I was hoping this was just a poor translation.
Two minutes later (and I don’t exaggerate), my food arrived on a plate. You know when you have to wait super long for your food to arrive and your stomach is gurgling and you’re getting pissed off? Well, at least that shows they’re putting a little bit of time and effort into you meal! Or, they’re just super busy. (Which, I believe, is a good thing....empty restaurants aren’t empty for nothing.) So when my “like shrimps” were delivered, I couldn’t help but think “hang on…no way could you have cooked those prawns in 30 seconds…and prawns aren’t supposed to be sitting around for days on end before you finally serve them up at any given moment…you could poison me you fool!” I had previously asked if they did children’s portions because I wasn’t that hungry. He had waved his hand and refused, told me I was a big girl and said I’d get given the same amount as everyone else. Well I got told. When my food arrived however I saw that he’d given me a small portion to which he says “see, I gave you less”. Thank you, I thought: you finally listened. But no, he ended up charging me the full wack. Rip to the off.
And the “seafood”? Where to begin! I’m not one for leaving food but seriously…the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had to eat in my life. I now know why they said it was “like shrimp”. To be honest, that was even pushing it. It was as if someone had bought a “shrimp cutter” and was cutting out shrimp shaped pieces of mouldy bread infested with pig intestine and rat guts. The texture was all wrong and the taste was unbearable. I curdled in my seat and individually picked out each bit of “fish” and “shrimp”. My theory was that neither of these seafood-substitutes had been anywhere near the sea. I decided I wouldn’t be taking a doggy bag…just this once. The guy next to me wanted to try some, but as he did so, his eyes began to water. It was truly that awful. And when the arsy waiter asked me to pay, I unintentionally started talking to him in Spanish. Don’t even ask what possessed me. The people around me seemed completely phased, and I felt slightly racist. But you know what the worst thing was? Their “grated parmesan” was none other than “grated emmental”. Don’t get me started. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll be fully aware of my aversion to emmental. I mean…that’s just taking the piss. And what’s more, in the 2 minute interim between ordering and receiving my food, the waiter brought a small dish of peanuts. I’m quite into my nuts (no pun intended), so started munching away happily. Until I recalled that this pot of nuts had probably had a hundred dirty hands sprawled over its contents. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the same nuts to catch the mice in the kitchen. Vom.
After deciding that we most certainly would not be giving a tip, we elected to find a bar along the Grands Boulevards to quench our thirst and help digest our scandalous meal. The cheapest drinks on the menu were among the wines so we all sat there with our glasses of vino, sipping away al fresco. I also decided to share some Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice-cream with the couple girls next to me. Ice-cream and wine? Can’t think of a better mix. Bridget Jones would be proud. We were then approached by a man who was trying to sell us roses. We all politely, but firmly, declined and he went on his merry way. Twenty minutes later (presumably after doing his unsuccessful round), he returned. After thrusting the rose between me and the guy next to me, I decided it was time to take action. In my best French accent I said “je suis allergique” and mimed sneezing. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but he seemed concerned for the wellbeing of his roses and soon moved on. Everyone laughed at my little charade and even I was impressed with this brilliant excuse. After all, you can’t feign bankruptcy when there are ten drinks on your table. As we were leaving, another street vendor approached us with even more roses and likewise I screamed “achoo, achoo” as loudly as possible, as if I were about to fall to my death in fits of sneezes. I find sometimes that a bit of drama never did anyone any harm.
Watch this space.