Look, i'll admit when i'm wrong, but people who wear jeans and black hoodies generally get treated differently when they enter "upscale" restaurants. I can see the look of uncertainty wash over the maitre d' as soon as a dishevelled entrant creeps in battling the relics of yesterdays excess. Sure, they're probably more unpredictable than the suit&tie bunch, but don't underestimate that they might know a thing or two about a thing or two.
With three hours to kill before my ferry over to Lofoten, I asked the kind barista at Melkebaren to recommend a spot for lunch. She suggested Bryggerikaien extolling the highest praise on their seafood, especially. Being an ardent appreciator of everything of liquid habitats, I tracked down the place thanks to google maps, and waited at the door to be seated.
A somewhat confused lady greeted me, took a step back when I spoke English (keep em on their toes), blurted out that the restaurant was rather full but there was a seat for me in the corner. Yes, the corner, furthest away from the snacking soccer moms discussing their nailjobs, and the business men at the bar sipping an expensive single-malt and bragging about their hedge fund benefits.
To be completely honest, I'd have asked for a corner table anyway, since I generally like to keep to myself and not have an audience whilst eating. I perused the menu, and ordered the mussels
Having had some years dabbling in the fundaments and various off-shoots of the restaurant business, I'm well versed in the bad habits that go on in kitchens. Notably, chefs who cook too many mussels for an order and leave the rest to "re-heat" when a fresh order comes in, thinking that the average Joe won't notice. Well, it's pretty damn obvious when you get a bowl and some of them are plump and juicy and blisteringly orange, and the rest are grey, mealy detritus that you'd find washed up in the sewage works. Aside from the mix-match of good/bad mussels, the same shortcuts had been applied to the fries. FRIES GODDAMN IT. One of the cheapest ingredients but so essential to a pleasant "Moules Frites" dining experience, yet these were also 50/50 cold, hard, old, stale fries tucked under newly cooked ones.
So utterly inexcusable for a chef to do.
You're gonna get slated for this, especially at these prices. I hesistated from complaining because I didn't want to be "that guy", and the looks i'd already received from the staff resonated further than my need to make an example out of it. I'd rather pay my bill and slaughter them in the reviews. Something I rarely do, but they deserved it.
There is a fine line between criticising a place for not pandering to your personal tastes, but glaring shortcuts in a place that is definitely not budget, are not to be accepted and should be strongly addressed.
After the underwhelming meal, and the uncomfortable moment when your credit card makes contact with the reader and you whince instead of rejoice, I parted ways with Byggerikaia, for the last time, and made my way to the ferry to sit and watch the ocean sparkle, and hope for a chance meeting with an orca, as the mainland was left behind a small speck of rock, and the imposing mountains of Lofoten appeared like charcoal sketches come alive.
(Visited in August 2020)
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"