Day 55: Austria
Mr. Meatball and I return to Venice, California, the area we left just thirteen hours earlier after a tremendous home cooked Bahraini meal. This time, our food hunt finds leads us to 3 Square Café + Bakery, and right after sitting down, I realize that I’ve made a huge mistake. It turns out that just about all of their exciting Austrian food is on the dinner menu and the only thing that fits the bill, even though it’s much more typically German, is the weisswurst and pretzel. Unfortunately, I’ll have to take the hit on this one and own up to my mistake. I ask our server if there is any way we could order off of the dinner menu and he dismisses us coldly and unsympathetically. Granted, I totally understand that it is probably a policy and he isn’t about to go back there and bug the chefs to make me spätzle or schnitzel, but if I were to rate our server on a scale from “1” to “Douchebag”, he would definitely rate as a solid “Douchebag”. It isn’t anything particular that he’s saying or doing. It’s just that general aura of douchebaggery which only a true douchebag can exude. And in case I haven’t used the word douchebag enough, let me just say that when I asked Mr. Meatball if he thought our server was kind of a douchebag, he said “Oh yeah. Big douchebag.” So don’t just take my word for it. But hey. Maybe the guy was just having a bad day.
I order the weisswurst and pretzel, which is already set up for disappointment as it can’t possibly compare to the version I had at Super Host Max’s house, but I’m still expecting a good meal from such a highly trafficked and very well regarded café. Mr. Meatball, also disappointed by the food options, goes with the pretzel burger. His pretzel burger arrives and he describes it pretty simply. “It has all the trappings of a good burger, but the medium rare is really more medium than I’d like.” That’s why whenever I order a burger at a place with good quality meat, I order it rare. An overcooked fancy burger is, in my opinion, a waste of time and I have no problem with a ball of beef tartar in the middle of my patty. My food is, for the most part, perfectly adequate. But it’s also pretty boring. The sausage itself is fine, but I much prefer it slowly simmered rather than grilled. They gave me the same caramelized onions on the side that are on Mr. Meatball’s burger and they really don’t go very well with the sausage. The potatoes are crispy and good but the poached eggs, while cooked properly, seem like they were prepared a little too far in advance and have developed a rubbery skin. The pretzel is tasty, though. The conversation turns to whether or not we can even count this as Austrian food, but decide that both of these items are probably eaten somewhere in Austria, even if they don’t typify the country’s cuisine.
I finish about half of my food, which is the first time on the Personal Food Project in Blog Form that I ordered only one dish and then didn’t even finish it. The only thing left to think about is the tip. We got relatively bad service, but it feels like it came from a feeling of “Well, these guys don’t seem like they’re going to tip very well. They’re just drinking water, they only ordered one thing each and they don’t look rich.” Now, when that happens, my brain goes two ways. Do I punish the server for assuming I wouldn’t tip well on a small meal (in fact, I usually over-tip in those scenarios)? But if I tip below fifteen percent will it just vindicate his self fulfilling prophecy? “See? I knew they would tip like crap.” Or do I over-tip and hope the server thinks “Wow. I was wrong about those guys. I shouldn’t judge people so quickly.” On the other hand, it could just make them think “Hey, they really liked my service!”, thus encouraging the continuation of his douchebaggery. While I roll these scenarios over in my head, like I always do, Mr. Meatball steps in with a little common sense. “Just tip fifteen percent.” Yeah. I guess I could do that. Whatever. What country is tomorrow again?
3 Square Café + Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
Food Breakdown: 2 entrées
Distance From My House: 5.3 miles