One visit could be the worst meal of your life, because you were having an argument with your boyfriend and you thought the waiter gave you a funny look. The next time you visited, could be the best meal of your life because it was your birthday and you got a candle in your panna cotta.
There are tiny details that you remember that did or didn't happen the next time, and it can really make a difference. Sometimes I think if I have such a great time at a restaurant, I shouldn't return because it mightn't be as good. But that's silly, because it may well be as good and I have returned to restaurants and had the same great experience again and again. Such as 10 Greek Street - I can't get enough of it. However, there have been places I've returned to and haven't had such a good time. It's only usually little things, but they spoilt my perfect experience and I might not return again.
A perfect example is my meal at Dabbous. I think it was partly because the dishes weren't all as amazing, or perhaps because the wait staff didn't make me feel quite as special as they had last time, but it slightly tarnished my memories of that place. Of course there are many different factors - a slightly distracted waiter or chef - mistakes happen. But somehow you're slightly less forgiving of a place that in your eyes, can do no wrong.
|Hipster cutlery containers|
Mishkin's wasn't one of these places that can do no wrong. I think there was one dodgy dish the last time I went (not long after it first opened), but the rest of the dishes made up for it and so did the laid-back but attentive service. But I had a great time.
This time felt different. Not terrible, just different. We arrived late (my fault) and to their credit, they weren't pissy, or had given away our table. It's always nice when you're not chastised, so kudos to them for that. I also want to make a point of saying that the service is always really friendly, consistently.
We made the mistake of asking them to come back to get our wine order. The problem was, they sort of forgot about us and we had to flag them down, as we couldn't even make eye contact. My own experience of waitressing is making sure that I at least look at each table when walking past, so I wasn't overly impressed with this ignoring approach.
After that it all went smoothly, though, service wise. The starters were lovely - well, you can't really go wrong with candied beetroot and goats' curd - a variation of a very common dish but one I can never resist ordering, such is my love for beetroot with a creamy accompaniment. We also ate beetroot tartare with pickled herring which was again, as expected, if anything, in surplus of beetroot.
One of the worst disappointments in life is tasting something you enjoyed previously and it not being quite as nice as you remembered. I had this predicament with the Reuben: pastrami, sauerkraut, pickles and mustard on rye bread, which I really liked the last time. But this time, the meat came apart and the rye tasted a bit burned. Why didn't I complain, why you ask? I didn't want to be a dick and ask for another one because my sandwich was a bit burned on the outside. They might do that with all of them. Probably other people like their sandwiches a bit charred, but it was just too charred for my tastes.
We went for a bottle of the Picpoul de Pinet, which was nice and easy to drink. One thing that they forgot with the first bottle was to put it in an ice bucket, but with the second one they remembered to put a suitably hip ice bucket on the table. Still, it's kind of on the first page of being a waiter or waitress, isn't it?
We didn't have a dessert, because we were too full, so we paid and lingered over our leftover wine.
It was kind of an enjoyable meal, but it just wasn't quite as enjoyable as the first one. Perhaps I'd put it on a pedestal after a particularly nice experience, perhaps I was too picky this time or perhaps I should learn to judge each meal on its own merit. Though, I suppose, most people expect similar experiences at the same restaurant, don't they?