July 27, 2008

Burgers at Bruges

A conversation last night reminded me about this incident when we'd been to Bruges recently... and I thought I had to share it with you guys... So, S had this incredible craving for a veggie burger the day after we reached Bruges. And all through our sightseeing, he checked out no less than 5 restaurants (read roadside joints) to verify if they stocked a veggie burger with a veggie patty... There is a serious dearth of this 'delicacy' in Paris where meat rules.. And though Indiana Café, one of his favorite joints here in Paris stocks them and he has that every time we go there, he just had to have it. So, back from the beaches of Oostende and after a day in Brussels, we reached Bruges well after 10:00PM. Having safely stashed the car away in one of the parking spaces, we went on foot (not a big achievement considering that it takes about 30 minutes to walk the longer part of Bruges) hunting for at least one of the places he'd checked out to be open. And we all remembered a different one and each of us led the way to a different part of the city centre. Finally we zeroed in on one that was tiny, seemingly shabby, but open nonetheless. With none of us having any other motivation after a long day of sightseeing and driving, we all settled in for burgers.

The guy at the counter was apparently the owner and he boasted pictures with celebrities who visited Bruges and his latest conquest was one with Colin Farrel who unsurprisingly starred 'In Bruges'. This substantially cheered me for the part that the decor did not. I assumed that if stars visited this place, the burgers had to pretty darned good. Even as S stood at the counter waiting to order, we witnessed the eccentric owner piss off a few potential customers into leaving the store. I, for one assumed that we'd probably not witnessed the part that they'd played in ticking him off. Soon it became apparent that they probably hadn't done anything. We saw a party of 8 enter and they all ordered 'Menus', which is a whole meal with fries and drinks and all. While 7 of them crowded merrily around the counter, one tired soul rested his eyes at the corner table, only to be awakened by the owner in a loud tone and to be informed that this was no 'hotel' where he could sleep. I thanked my stars for not having been discovered at the same compromising position barely a few minutes earlier before I got my Iced Tea. The friends of the offended guy explained that he was 'with them' and they were ordering for him too. But that didn't soothe our owner, who repeated that he had no 'hotel' and that he had to leave. One of the guys cheerily mentioned that if his friend was sent out, the rest of them would walk out too. And they were shown the door. Out walked 100€ of business. I watched in shock... hopefully assuming that the mask of disbelief was not obvious on my face. Presumably the guy wasn't up for making 8 menu meals at close to 11 in the night on a Sunday... but wouldn't it have been kinder to just say so rather than have them leave for what seemed very petty? And soon we were to witness another 4 parties of varying strengths being shown the door for offenses ranging from staring hard at the drinks refirgerator to choose a drink, to screaming out an order before it was their turn.

Amazingly though, he seemed pro-Asian and treated us and a Chinese couple with atmost respect. He even offered to play mild music in order to create a soothing ambience for us to eat in, even though we ate in silence and gulped down the food, lest we be kicked out as well. Maybe it was just that he knew how good his burgers were and that he was in no danger of losing any regulars, but just the tourists in that part of Bruges or maybe he was just trying to show everyone who the boss was or maybe he was just plain tired. But the burgers were absolutely phenomenal.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Seinfeld's Soup Nazi.

Jaya said...

Rats- Thats absolutely right... I can't believe I missed the connection! Maybe he modeled himself after him :)

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