Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where’s the meat? Or, never have we paid so much for so little.

In our endless quest to satisfy our apparently ginormous American appetites, we came upon a restaurant that looked like it would fill the bill—the restaurant at the Hotel San Polo. We were allowed to eat in the quiet dining room away from the screaming soccer fans in the bar area. Our ubiquitous waiter offered us menus in English, a welcome change.

Ken surprised our waiter by first ordering a delightful Spanish cocktail known as 43 and Coke. Stunned, he repeated our order and nodded his approval. Shortly thereafter, he brought to the table two tall glasses filled with more than one ice cube (usually you just get one), two small bottles of Coke, and the entire bottle of 43 from the bar. Forty three (or “cuarenta y tres”) is a Cuban liquer with a flavor close to vanilla and it is good with Coke or alone on the rocks. If you ever get a chance, you should try it.

The waiter brought us two pieces of standard, stale Spanish bread with no butter, no olive oil—nothing. Just dry bread. Then he brought out an unexpected treat of (don’t get grossed out) phyllo purses stuffed with blood sausage, pine nuts, and rice with a tasty sauce of reduced balsamic vinegar. Ken and Mother of Ken were pleased and impressed.

These feelings were short-lived. Our entrees of grilled baby lamb chops were underwhelming. We each had about 8-10 “chops” which were approximately a quarter of an inch thick and contained less than 2% meat. These were served on a bed of 15 French fries (which were salted—an unusual occurrence) with a sautéed red pepper draped over the top of everything like a blanket. We are sure that this was a ploy to avert our attention from the lack of meat. In hindsight, it took more calories to cut through the gristle in search of meat than we actually consumed. Neither one of us was willing to be the first to comment on the paucity of the food. Instead, we kept up normal conversation. During our entire dining experience, when he was not serving us elf food, our waiter busied himself by endlessly drying silverware and throwing it into piles and drying plates and stacking them loudly a mere five feet from our table.

We were grateful when he offered us a dessert menu. Even in our weakened state, we were able to peruse the menu, which included such delicacies as olive oil ice cream and skewered fruit with hot chocolate. We chose what we believed was a fail-safe option: lemon sorbet. It arrived at our table in short champagne glasses with plastic flexible straws. We stared in amazement, looked at each other, and laughed. Sticking the straws into the glasses, we bravely took our first sips of sorbet only to find out that it was more like lemon foam than the sorbet we expected. It was somewhat like an orange julius, but thinner. Ken remarked that it tasted like lemon scented Lysol.

It was now 9:30 p.m. No one else was in the dining room with us. Had we eaten the Early Bird Special?

We got our bill and were astonished at the total as our stomachs growled in hunger. We hurried back to our room to snack on the cookies we had taken from the breakfast buffet.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Mmmm, 43 and coke. I want that. Right now. It's 5 pm somewhere.