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Monday, November 18, 2013

Ich bin ein. By John von Daler

                  I had discovered the place by accident: taking a walk by #Savigny Platz I passed an open door through which the scent of elegant sauces wafted onto #Kantstrasse. An elderly woman stood in the door doing what I suppose my Viennese grandmother might have called "taking the air", such as it is in Kantstrasse. I could not really see in the kitchen, so I tried to find a front entrance to what had to be a restaurant. Finally I found a small, fairly dark entranceway and walked inside two tiny, dark, adjacent rooms, one long with a bar and the other square with maybe eight or ten tables. The place had a feel of masculinity about it, as if the owner had decorated it with just a few not very well-placed pictures of people and places he liked and said who cares what anybody else thinks. It had an irresistible charm about it that appealed to me.

                We ate there with friends every time we were in Berlin after that and Weinrestaurant #Risacher became our favorite (unfortunately it is closed now). They had a discreet and homely way of combining very good cooking in a French manner with the products of northern Europe. These wonderful dishes they combined with the wines of France or Alsace which they really would rather choose for you than leave up to your whimsical discretion. 
                I am telling you about them not to tease you, because you can no longer visit them, but to recount a slight humiliation: once I had been overdressed.
                Before a trip to Berlin I had purchased two tickets from Berliner Opera for the premiere of a ballet using the music of The Firebird by Stravinsky. Only when the tickets arrived did I notice that it in fact was "a premiere". I do not like to stick out when I travel. See, don't be seen is my motto. So I enquired among friends about the premiere dress code in Berlin. Nobody knew anything. Not wanting to be underdressed at least, I pulled my tuxedo out of its mothballs, it having been used last when I had assisted Copenhagen Phillharmonic at a concert ten years before. So I donned it the night we were to attend the premiere - with dinner afterwards at Risacher.
                Now when we arrived at the ballet it turned out that we were way overdressed. I looked like a waiter and only by staring continually at the floor did I avoid orders for cocktails or canap├ęs with fois gras from the blue-jeaned audience.
                Afterwards at Risacher we were again suitably out of style, but they were very, very discreet. It developed into a wonderful evening after all. And nobody asked me for their check. The waiter even gave us an Eau de Vie, framboise, on the house.
                The truth, however, will be known, especially in Berlin. When we arrived there a year later and went to our favorite restaurant, the very same waiter who had been so discreet, when bending over us with our hors d'oeuvres now remarked quietly, Remember how silly you looked last time? Tee-hee!
                This must have been the real Berlin that just has to be itself regardless and will not be denied the pleasure of a good laugh at someone else's expense. I think I tipped him too much that evening in thanks for having turned a public embarrassment into a private joke.
                Next time, no matter where, I will be wearing my good, old levi's, Oklahoma style, without any fancy ambitions.  



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