Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Hessian House Hell

My wife has been after me for a long time to go eat at the Hessian House near the heart of the Urban Jungle and I have gotten good at coming up with reasons not too. It was located in the heart of the downtown party district and fighting the crowds or driving around in vast circles looking for parking was never one of my strong suits. However, a month ago, I finally ran out of excuses and we stopped by to eat on a Saturday evening.

I love German restaurants and use to eat at one as a bachelor up in Minnesota. They always had good food, nice German girls waiting the tables and usually a dance floor of polka music in another room or downstairs. This one had only one of the three.

We shuffled into the door ahead of two large crowds of people and were all standing inside the door waiting to be seated in a crowded restaurant. The waitress finally came around and just said we could seat ourselves wherever we could find a seat. The race was on. We blinked and were skunked at getting a table. As we walked back towards the door, we noticed a little alcove off to the side of the door with two tiny tables that seat two people each. There was a couple in one of the tables but the other one was empty. We claimed it but immediately had one problem, it had two chairs and with Little Abbey, there were three of us. I started wandering through the restaurant asking other high tables with empty chairs if they were being used but kept getting told that they were. I felt like that kid walking towards the back of the school bus always being told that the seat was "taken." Skunked, I finally walked back resigned to eating my dinner with large sack of squirming flour on my lap when the couple next to us said that we could have one of their chairs.

Just about then, the waitress finally made her presence asking if we would like a high chair. That would be great and would leave the couple with their two chairs. However, she came back with the smalled highchair I have ever seen. It would have looked small next to a regular table much less a high table and had Little Abbey been able to fit in it (she couldn't), her head would have been a full two feet below our table. The other couple left so we quickly did take them up on their chair.

During all this, the polka music kicked in. When I use the term kick, I mean it literally felt like someone was kicking your head in time with the music it was that loud. My old Skilsaw table saw in my garage is so loud, I always wear earmuffs to protect my ears when using it and this polka music was louder than it. You literally had to put your mouth into an ear and shout to be heard.

I was a little disappointed with the menu seeing that only one item, the goulash (is that German?) came with any spaezle. I am rather quite fond of it and remembered previous German restaurant menus being full of spaezle. Finally I noticed that the sandwich selection had a choice of sides that included spaezle so I ordered the Bismark. I also ordered food for Little Abbey and specifically asked for it to be brought out first because I knew it would be screaming hot and she was wining hungry already. It came out with our food screaming hot so that I had to spend the first fifteen minutes of my meal ripping nuclear hot chicken tenders apart and blowing on them while my food became barely lukewarm.

The food was good but Little Abbey accidentally spilled her water, I was thirsty and sipped the three ounces of diet coke out of the ice filled glass within seconds after our food was brought and we never saw the waitress again until much later when I flagged her down to get a bill. So the three of us made do with the ice filled glass with a little splash of water that my wife received. You would have thought that she could see our pained polka induced expressions sitting there for fifteen minutes after all food had been consumed would be a hint to ask if we needed anything more or at least to bring a bill.

Though not the fault of the Hessian House, my story gets even worse. After the couple squeezed into the tiny alcove left just as we were finally getting seated, a solitary girl claimed the table. Then ten minutes later, seven drunk friends from the bar came over to join her at the little table for two with only one chair. For the rest of my dinner because Little Abbey and Mrs. Abbey were seated at the ends and me in the aisle, I had elbows liberally thrown into my neck and shoulders as they all packed the aisle yelling at each other. During brief paused in the coma inducing polka, they yelled about glass boots of beer consumed in the past and not being able to tell the waitress their order until they finished updating their status on Facebook with their cellphones.

Finally after I finally got the waitress over to our table to drop off the bill, we scrambled out the door leaving. The noise from our urban jungle, like all cities of size that never sleep, was blissfully quiet compared to the hellish world we had just left. Needless to say, I don't think I will be going back there anytime soon unless on a weekday afternoon after the normal lunchtime hours, and then, only if I don't see our same waitress working there.


R. Sherman said...

I was a little disappointed with the menu seeing that only one item, the goulash (is that German?) came with any spaezle. I am rather quite fond of it and remembered previous German restaurant menus being full of spaezle.

Goulash came to German up the Danube from Austria, back when Hungary was still a part of the Austrian Empire. You'll find it on most German menus in Bavaria, but is fades out, the farther north you get.

Ditto with spaetzle. Most German cuisine in the US is really Bavarian regional cooking, which in many respects bears little resemblance to what Germans eat farther north. Further things like spaetzle don't appear often in meals at home because they're considered to be "war food:" cheap, filling meals made with a minimum of meat, vegetables and fat, all of which was needed to supply the Wehrmacht.


Ed said...

R. Sherman - I figured there was a good reason for the lack of spaetzle and I was hoping you would provide me with the answer which you did. Thanks.

geri said...

Reading this gave me a headache. I wouldn't be as patient as you. I would have walked out at the prospect of seating Evan in my lap while eating. But Tom would have probably beaten me to the door too :) Although he would like the loud part(which I don't) haha.

edifice rex said...

Yeah, I believe I would have walked out too. I just can't handle crap like that.

Sage said...

Wow, what a great description of hell... but hell shouldn't be wasted so I suggest Murf do a post on what the drunk guys were posting on their facebook pages!

As for me, I'd walked out and been proud to eat at a Burger King

Ed said...

Geri/Edifice Rex and Sage - I guess it just takes a lot for me to get up and walk out of a restaurant after making a special effort to go eat at it.

Murf said...

German or Bavarian, I'm easy. I love spaetzle or spatzen as they sometimes have it listed. I wonder why it's different (read: R. Sherman, I hope you know the answer to this!).

I got agitated just reading this. I hope that teaches the wife to listen to you from now on. ;-)

Sage - I only do that for you. :-)

Eutychus2 said...

This is a great conversation. I think it always makes a difference on the time and place you eat in a restuarant. Usually the wife and I try to get to a restuarant early, anything after 6PM is usually fast food, because of the crowd and often by that time both waitresses/waiter and the chef have been sufficiently annoyed. I probably would have followed my wife in huffing out...hell can wait, even if Murf has a good excuse for their behavior!

Beau said...

Ouch...glad to know where not to go. I vote for early arrival as well... and you're a patient man.

Ed said...

Murf - I doubt it. The wife is always right.

Eutychus2 - We generally try to eat out early too.

Beau - Not patient, just slow to act.