Tuesday, 25 April 2017

In Dusseldorf...Day Two, part two (the desolation of Mogg)

Breakfast was fine. Not brilliant, but fine. Why not brilliant? It was plenty to do with the hard chairs and the glass roof, which lent a kind of basic feel to the whole experience, but they had everything one might expect from a hotel breakfast room. There were sausages, scrambled egg, sautéed potatoes, a variety of breads, including croissants, yoghurt, fresh fruit, cereals, tea and coffee and fresh fruit juice. I chose a bowl of fresh fruit and a bowl of yoghurt plus a banana, some scrambled egg with sautéed potato and a cup of English breakfast tea. Tea is always such a faff as it is contained in sachet that needs to be opened – sometimes a big problem – plonked in a cup into which hot water must be poured and so on; that's the problem with self-service, I tend to get fed up with the process.

Why the long face?
Earlier, in the room, I had a small battle on my hands with some unruly coathangers, which hadn't bothered me last night purely because I'd left everything in my suitcase. Flustered from the experience and still smarting a little from the locked minibar and safe I left the room to have my breakfast and it was something I was looking forward to despite the fact that I had absolutely nothing to read; and there's nowt better than a book or a newspaper with a hotel breakfast. But then again it wasn't a cosy breakfast space so reading a book or a newspaper wouldn't have been as good as it might have been in a less basic, and slightly more cosy, environment – a softer chair, perhaps, a tablecloth, waitress service, tea brought to my table rather than me faffing around trying to open a teabag prior to immersing it in hot water. But then I guess you get what you pay for and one thing I won't do is complain too loudly about the Mercure City Center because it is what it is and in many ways it's a cut above so the only causes for complaint that I can see are the locked safe and minibar, the unruly coathangers oh, and the bathroom. Well, not the whole bathroom, just the hot water situation, particularly in the shower: it wouldn't warm up and the only way to make it hot enough to use was turn the lever in such a way that the flow was severely limited to just a dribble; it was the same with the sink tap. It made showering less of a pleasure than it might of been, that's all, but still it's another negative to add to the locked minibar, the locked safe, the unruly coathangers – you know the ones I mean, not proper hangers with hooks but those you can't get off the rail. Again I find myself thinking that the hotel doesn't trust its guests – they can't trust them to tell the truth when asked "did you use the minibar" so they lock it; they don't believe their guests will have anything worth putting in a safe, so they lock that too, and because they think their guests will half-inch the coathangers, they provide the unruly variety. "That'll teach them!"

I decided to wander about town in search of a decent restaurant. To be honest I wasn't really sure what I wanted. I started first with the internet and keyed in 'Italian restaurants in Dusseldorf' but the best ones, according to Trip Advisor, were a good 25-minute walk away and I really wasn't inspired enough to go on some kind of trek. In the end I wandered out having checked the menu of the hotel restaurant. I've dined here before and it's not brilliant, although in retrospect it would have been fine. But still I wandered, up past the Thai restaurant next door to the Burns Art Hotel and around some of the surrounding streets. I passed Jaipur, an Indian restaurant, and suddenly thought I fancied a curry. If I'm honest, I didn't. I just wanted to get off the street and into somewhere cosy where I could chill for a while. Jaipur wasn't really it, and while I've already broken my 'never eat in an Indian restaurant outside of the UK' rule once before (The Spicy Grill, Brussels, arguably the best Indian restaurant I've ever visited) I found myself breaking the rule again, except this time it simply didn't cut the mustard. First I ordered a Warsteiner but was given a Paulaner – odd when Warsteiner is advertised all over the place – on the menus, outside the restaurant – but I wasn't complaining. Then I asked for poppadams, expecting the usual plate-sized variety but getting instead a couple of dozen mini poppadums the size of a 2p coin. Very disappointing.

I certainly picked the wrong table, right by the door. Every time somebody walked in I got a cold blast of April weather. It went right through me. Decor-wise it was fairly basic: red and beige tablecloths with a bar/servery counter on the back wall and tables in front of it.

The waiter was the height of good manners: polite, friendly, he passed with flying colours.

A hot plate arrived, always a pleasant moment of the Indian restaurant experience, but not today. It was cold. Put it this way, I could easily place my had palm down on it without risk of burning myself. The food followed and, fortunately, it was warm, hot and fine to eat.

I had ordered a chicken curry dish with pillau rice and a nan bread and found the entire meal a disappointment. First the rice was a little on the crunchy side (not what I'm used to) and the chicken, while fine, was, I don't know, chewy? Gristly? Not like the prime chicken breast meat I would have been served in an English Indian restaurant, and I can't help but compare like for like, it's only natural. Theoretically they should be in the same ballpark, Germany is, after all, a Western European country, just like the UK. The meal was sort of average and I kind of regretted making the decision to cross the threshold of Jaipur, although, that said, I might be completely wrong about the place. I say that because as I was about to leave many Indian customers came in, virtually taking over the restaurant and having so many Indians sitting in an Indian restaurant is, in my opinion, the best review an Indian restaurateur can get. So I started to reappraise my attitude towards the place, although I stand by what I have written. Put it this way, I felt reassured about Jaipur's credentials.

At the end of the meal I was given scented 'bird seed' – a kind of Eastern Trill – to refresh my mouth. It did the trick.

The bill was around 26 Euros, which was a fair price for what I'd eaten. Soon I was back on the streets and heading for my hotel from where I now sit, writing this review.

It's just gone 2130hrs, I'm tired and looking forward to my bed, which is next on my agenda.

I've enjoyed eating a few of these excellent snack bars.
Snack of the trip!!!
Arguably one of the most moreish, tasty snack bars you'll ever eat, the Briiggen Sunny Erdbeer Joghurt bar takes the biscuit. I'm guessing that 'Erdbeer' is German for strawberry as the English translation says just that, 'Strawberry Yoghurt'. Either way it's tasty and I'll be getting hold of some more tomorrow. This is serious competition for the Balisto bar.

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