You only have one chance to make a first impression. If you blow it, you’ll have to go to great lengths to win me back.
We’ve eaten at many restaurants that I intended to blog about and didn’t because I couldn’t find anything nice to say about them. Generally speaking, I’ll skip a review rather than write a negative one. I’d hate to bash a place because a dish or service was lacking; we can all have an off night. It’s even happened in our kitchen!
I’m making an exception about Bar Raval – mainly because of the fantastic press that lead to our visit – in the interest of full disclosure, you might say. Some time ago, my husband read about Raval in an airline magazine. The article talked about the owner, an actor who has visited every tapas bar in Barcelona and the fact that every FC Barcelona match is shown here. If you’re a tapas and/or Barcelona football fan in Berlin, this was billed as the place to be. We are both, and we were in Berlin.
There is one small room with a television set (the only one in the bar) that was showing the Champions League match up between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The room was packed, not a square inch of space. (The concepts of a fire marshal and occupancy limits don’t seem to exist in Europe and my claustrophobia and I miss them.) There were also about 20 people outside gathered around the picture window watching the match being televised inside.
We weren’t going to see the match, so that left tapas. The restaurant was about half full with every empty table sporting a reserved sign. We finally found a table for two that was open and seated ourselves (a common practice in Europe) as there seemed to be no host or hostess. A waitress had said hello to us as we entered the room, but then seemed to be ignoring us. We sat for probably ten minutes – long enough that I was starting to check the time and wonder just how long this would go on.
I had my back to the room, but my husband could see the waitress and the manager looking at us and talking. Finally the manager came over and said, “this table is reserved. There’s no sign on it, but it’s reserved.” We started to gather our things and Ed asked if there was another table we could move to. The manager said we could stay, but we should know that they needed the table in TWO hours (for real customers, I guess). We didn’t anticipate staying that long.
We were given German/Spanish menus, not a problem, after four years in Spain we can navigate a Spanish menu. My problem is that after being ignored for so long, and taking my first look ever at their menu, they were back to take our order within two minutes. Did I feel rushed? Yes! Did I feel welcome? No! There was a lack of hospitality, and it didn’t seem to be an oversight; they were proactive about it.
The food we ordered was fine, although, not complicated (chorizo both hot and cold, and garlic chicken). On the way back to our hotel, we reminisced about the Spanish restaurant we visited on a previous trip to Berlin. I can’t say the food was better, but the atmosphere was definitely more gracious.