italy travelogue
Day 10. October 28, 2000. Trieste.
Allan's dinner adventure.

At 20:00 I went to dinner at Harry's Bar in the hotel, which was reputed to be one of the best restaurants in Trieste. The following rant may cause others to feel differently. All of us who ate there that night do.

The head waiter did not speak any more English than I speak Italian, if that much. He couldn't cope with "My name is West and I have a reservation." So I was sidelined to the bartender who speaks English just fine. The head waiter started off by asking "pesce o carne?" This led to nearly ten minutes of discussion centered around the fact that there were no menus, so no one knew why he was asking without offering specific choices.

We first asked for, then demanded menus to the cry of "no menu!" After some additional discussion with the waiter, I discerned that the choices were fish of the day, or meat from the menu. This is as opposed to meat or fish off the menu, since the menu offers more fish variety than they have in stock so late in the fall. The rest of the table started ordering fish. That was when the head waiter mentioned that fish was for two, and brought out the tray with the actual, whole fish.

There was further confusion about the second entree part, based on the the head waiter's query "pasta tomato or fish?" This devolved later into fish plates as salad replacements which were loudly returned in favor of green salads (green means no tomato...). I ordered agnello, but was unable to order gnocchi off the prima entree section for as yet unknown reasons. I got nice pasta with tomato sauce instead, as did the rest of the table.

At the middle of the actual order writing Al & Pat ask for separate cheques which gave the head waiter heart palpitations. He consults with the bartender. Eventually the head waiter got all the orders down along with the rooms to charge, and he left. The head waiter did not return or acknowledge our presence again. We attempted vainly to communicate with the other waiters and all of our transactions are bucked up to bartender who served most of the rest of our needs, with a little help from junior waiters.

As we discussed the service, or lack thereof, and how wrong the Michelin Guide had steered people, the discussion got around to where people were from and what they did. Two couples, Al & Pat Zangara and John & Peg Gilbert, knew my uncle Larry Anderson from a hospital in Michigan where they had all worked.

The fish eventually was cut and served on a portable table behind us. The lamb came on it's own. One person ordered only mixed salad and was quite happy. The fish smelled yummy and was enjoyed by the others. The lamb was a little overdone, but the sauce was amazing.

After dinner Al & Pat and I went for gelati. Peg & John said they didn't want to go. We met Peg & John coming towards the gelateria as we were leaving, so I stayed and had another gelato.


Allan West and
Jane Dominguez