The restaurant wasn’t hard to find; it was a short walk from the couch where we had spent a rather fulfilling and productive day finishing off Netflix. All of it. As we walked into the empty, quiet dining room, I whispered to The Serb, “It’s a Thursday night, where is everyone?” She looked at me and said, “It’s not Thursday.” I had no idea what day of the week it was. It was like that awkward week between Christmas and New Year.
We had to seat ourselves, which was fine as there was only one table available. It was one of those communal tables that could seat eight. I would have much preferred a table for two. I leaned across and told The Serb, “I hope no-one else comes, otherwise we’ll have to sit next to strangers.” She said nothing. Maybe she couldn’t hear me through the mask I was wearing.
The restaurant had an open kitchen and an adjacent lounge area. The fit-out was pleasant enough, a passable mix of IKEA and Marina furniture, with a warm, homely, residential feel. It was one of those restaurants that makes you feel right at home.
I was excited about the meal to come despite having eaten 18 times already that day. I had decided to dress up a little for our first restaurant reservation in what seemed like ages. On the other hand, The Serb had decided to take a more relaxed approach to fashion and had changed from her daytime pyjamas to her nighttime pyjamas.
The service was very subtle – almost to the point where it felt like there wasn’t any.
The entertainment was a large television (could be larger, if you asked me) in the lounge area, showing beautiful screensaver montages of mountains and cityscapes and arctic tundra in high definition drone footage. It was super relaxing and a nice touch.
I reached over the table display; a decorative bowl with two dried, hard limes, some keys and a few Post It notes and went to hold The Serb’s hands. Except she was busy sanitizing them, so I played with the two limes instead.
The Serb chose the starter, which was a dry, burnt dough derivative, that I believe was meant to be focaccia, judging by the Paul Hollywood recipe print out that I spotted on the kitchen counter. It was served with chunky, fork-mashed chickpeas mixed with bottled lemon juice. A distant cousin thrice removed to the hummus family, I think. It was terrible. No wonder it was in isolation. It should have stayed there.
The Serb excused herself and went to the restroom. I took the opportunity to assess my mental wellbeing and sanitise my hands. She came back, with a proud look on her face. She leaned in and whispered in case someone overheard us. “They have a shelf full of toilet paper! I put two rolls in my bag, just in case.” These Serbs are pragmatic, that’s for sure.
The main course was a zero-waste dish, utilizing the best (and last) bits of several pasta bags found at the back of the shelf. A mix of spaghetti, fusilli, orza and three random tortellini, mixed with freshly tinned Tuscan tomatoes. I was informed that it was an authentic Northern Italian dish. It was garnished with a Saltbae flourish of dried Italian herbs – a secret blend from Chef Schwartz. I felt the Saltbae flourish was un-necessary and quite reckless especially in these times of heightened hygiene.
The dessert was a romantic sharing dish, decadent and rich. Half a jar of Nutella. With two spoons. They tried to upsell a jar of creamy peanut butter as well, but we declined, saying we needed another reason to return!
As we wandered back to the couch, we spoke about our plans for the next day. The Serb was going to write her memoirs and I was going to figure out what this tik tok game was all about.
Till next time, stay safe, stay at home and order direct from local restaurants – they need your support more than ever!