“Tati is full tonight” – my friend, S, called to say – “Do you know any other place we could go to?”.
I thought hard – after coming back, my restaurant life has been limited to this group of friends with whom I go out at least once a month – all of us to escape from our normal life and for plenty of laugh. This also invariably means we always draw curious glances from the other patrons for not just looking different. It has also become a ritual to stay until the restaurant tires of us and informs us it is time to close. We normally look at each other and ask for the bill reluctantly. It is time to go back to real life – each of us will be forced to wake up quickly – others by their small children and me by my very erratic body clock.
So when we need to think of finding a restaurant 15 minutes before our appointment, it is really not easy to find one. For one, the environment has to be really good. What does good mean? – It could mean exotic or rusty or modern or local or elegant or … you get the picture. NO Subway, NO McDonalds, NO normal Starbucks, NO cafes on the Hauptstrasse of Heidelberg – but if it is a restaurant on the Hauptstrasse with “that” feeling, it is a different matter – AND NO INDIAN RESTAURANTS. Oh! I forgot to mention – the food has to be good. The person choosing the restaurant has to guarantee the quality of food.
So 15 minutes before, all dressed in a pink top with white skirt, I sit browsing the web. For each restaurant I find, I call V to check whether that is a good one.
Finally I remember Juice in Heidelberg – the party hosted by a friend was great – the place “seemed” to be amazing (it was more than a year back). The food – I had no clue since he had ordered privately. “Let’s take the risk” – said V. I called to make a reservation – “There is place only on the long table” – said the guy who answered – “Is that ok?”. Of course.
We walk into the restaurant. It is as I remember it – from outside you get the feeling it is closed but if you look carefully through the window, you will get some glimpses into the life inside. The modern mixed with rustic look captures my eye. The restaurant is separated into three parts with the decor. The long table is in the middle part and close to the bar AND wooden.The 5 of us try to squeeze into the table. We are presented with the menu (the special menu is also chalked on the blackboard running along the wall in the middle). The shining metal goblets of lights hanging over each table reflect the restaurant.
Each of us orders the drinks and the food and wait patiently. At 9:00 in the evening, we are all very hungry. The waiters are friendly, advice us, laugh with this crazy bunch of girls, help us to change the table when a private one becomes free and brings a comfortable chair for “N” from the other end of the restaurant. This care continues all evening.
The cocktails arrive, they are the best I have had since coming back. We decide on pastas and burgers. “A” decides not to order pasta with prawns in it “They will just put so few of them into it that only pasta will remain and I will be disappointed” – she said and we sympathized – we know how it is with restaurants. V orders what “A” rejected.
One of the best burgers I have had in my life makes me finish the whole plate – as usual I do not touch the french fries. The pasta portions are large – the number of prawns are double what “A” predicted and more than enough for the amount of pasta. I help “N” to finish her pasta. A voice says from the back “You should not share your pasta – you have to eat for two” – the waiter stands smiling at “N” who is expecting her baby next month.
We order more drinks and dessert. It is kitchen closing time – there are no desserts than Crème brûlée. We order Crème brûlée for all of us which they agree to make though kitchen has closed. As I am not too fond of Crème brûlée anyway, I liked this one as much as the previous ones I have had – my friends who normally love it said it did not pass the test. Except for this one glitch and “V”s last drink (the name of the drink had “herbs” and it tasted like it did), the whole evening was great.
At 1:05 a.m the only other remaining guests left. We wondered whether we should leave. “We will take some time to finish the work required to close the restaurant – you can stay until then” – after the normal experiences of getting kicked out exactly at the closing hour, this is a refreshing change. We stay chatting – “Maybe we should stay here until breakfast”. They have a breakfast which is supposed to be excellent too. (Photo courtsey for first and last ones Juice facebook page).