There is one thing you can say about hotel eating: it’s consistent. Which is like hearing the person you’ve been set up on a blind date with is ‘nice’. At least in hotels, the concept of service exists (that at the Ritz far exceeds that at the Hyatt – more later) and the lunch prices are a steal!
At Mesa the 3 course lunch is €15. The portions are petite, especially by Berlin standards. At the Ritz lunch is €14 for the special, a non-alchoholic drink and coffee. It’s less food, with my portion of Quiche Lorraine, pivoted in such a way as to visually occupy maximum space on a busy plate and a fluffed up bit of herb salad (quite nice it was too) and some creme fraiche piped onto the plate in a fat braid.
Mesa does German food ‘family style’. I know the last bit because my father and I were stumped when the waitress kept putting all our food beyond our reach on the left side of the table. I figured there must be some reason to the contrived plate handling, so I looked it up on their website and there it was: “German dishes served family-style in the middle of the table”.
Even the small serving of pumpkin soup.
It’s an amusing illustration of how things are often followed to the l-e-t-t-e-r here, even though sometimes it might not make much sense to do it exactly the way you’ve been told. But deviation is not common.
Neither are smiles. The women serving us are pretty, trim blondes with their hair neatly bound and their cheeks rouged but in the two hours that we sit there, not one of them smiles maybe that doesn’t come with the lunch deal? Maybe you have to go for the more expensive dinner if you want a smile?
There are funny things on the menu. Like Berliner Currywurst with french fries. You can order it as part of the lunch menu at Mesa so it works out at €5 but at the Ritz it’s on the normal menu and it costs €18. That’s like paying €5 for €1, it makes no sense at all.
Despite feeling like I was being served by a couple of ice princess, I preferred Mesa. Partly because I’m greedy and I want more for my €15 but also because I thought they did a far better job of the desserts than at the Ritz where I had an inedible cylinder of cheesecake that tasted like cold fat.
All this hotel dining made me realize what I want for my next birthday. A 24 hour stay at a quiet hotel, one that has a fluffy duvet and oldie but goodie films on the pay TV. I want to watch some saccharine love comedy like Sleepless in Seattle (which I always hated because how can anyone be in love with Tom Hanks and how many more times is Meg Ryan going to play that character?) the whole way through.
I’m going to order a club sandwich with fries and eat in bed wearing the fluffy bathrobe. Strike that. Sushi from Dinings in London, that’s what I want. Because the people tasked with making the club sandwiches are the same ones who are given the potatoes to peel, they make a sad sandwich.
True luxury isn’t a handbag, it’s having just the right amount of free time…