|Da Bruno, Karlstrasse 16, Düsseldorf, Germany|
After a tough day – and all the last four days have been tough – I looked forward to visiting Da Bruno a small Italian trattoria located at Karlstrasse 16, 40210 Düsseldorf – telephone (0211) 38 23 00 and prefix that number with 0049 if you're calling from outside of Germany (and exclude that zero before the 2).
I dined alone every night and took with me a copy of The Economist on one day and Thursday's Times today. For the other two days I had my iphone to fiddle with, which was fine, but as all of my colleagues were staying in different hotels, some a considerable distance away, I dined alone every night.
Today was to be my last night at Da Bruno and, as always, it was busy. In fact, thinking about it, I should have reserved a table, but despite not doing so, they still managed to find me a table. What did I like about this great little restaurant? For a start it was Italian and I love Italian food. Then there was the fact that it was a small, cosy restaurant – they're rare these days – and then, of course, there was the service, which was perfect, and we can't forget the food as it was amazing. I made a point of not overdoing it as I wanted to be relaxed and chilled and happy to walk the 15 minutes along Karlstrasse without feeling tired and bloated. With this in mind, I had pasta dishes every day: pasta with mushrooms, penne arrabiatta, linguine with pesto and tonight pasta with lamb chops. On two occasions I had a small mixed salad, there was always bread and I also tried the minestrone soup (yesterday) and the tomato soup this evening. And I couldn't resist the proscuittio with melon. Fortunately I managed to avoid dessert as I knew that had I weakened I would have opted for the tiramisu (my all-time favourite dessert).
Despite being small and intimate there was plenty of hubbub, which I like; there's nothing better than feeling cosy in a restaurant, listening in to the banter of the other diners and taking in everything else like the smell of the food being cooked and the conversation between the waiting staff.
Every day has been different in Da Bruno. On day one there was only a group of men plus myself in the restaurant, but then it was fairly late. I remember being pleasantly surprised at the size of my glass of house red – it was huge – and then being taken aback by the waiting staff who were quite happy during one of my visits to put a bottle of red wine on my table and charge me only for what I consumed. No rigid portion control policy! But it was a policy never abused by yours truly. I never overdid anything and left the restaurant every night feeling at peace with the world and ready (hopefully) for a decent night's sleep.
There really is no praise high enough for Da Bruno and whoever runs the place. It's definitely a community restaurant with a strong local following and I'm pleased to say that while the restaurant was once on the other side of the road, it's not anymore as the building in which it resided was recently sold. One of the waiting staff told me they were lucky to find their current premises and I found myself thinking 'too right!" I would imagine that locals would mourn the loss of Da Bruno for many years and may never have gotten over it. I know I wouldn't.
So tonight, as I paid up the bill, gathered my stuff together and bade farewell to the waiting staff, there was a tinge of sadness as I walked into the evening air and headed back to my hotel. But I know that one day I'll be back as Düsseldorf has become a regular haunt of mine.
I've got roughly a half day of work ahead of me tomorrow and then I must head to the airport for a flight to London City Airport – a 70-minute hop as opposed to hours of driving on autobahns and motorways.
Here's to the team at Da Bruno for running an excellent restaurant and charging a reasonable price for above average food and impeccable service.
Telephone: (0211) 38 23 00
Fax (0211) 384 0147