The weather this weekend has so far been cold and cloudy. This is in stark contrast to last weekend’s glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. Consequently, I wasn’t really feeling like doing much exploring today. Nevertheless, by the time 3:00pm rolled around, I realized that I wanted to go out to eat. I asked Bill if he’d like me to find a restaurant on our favorite restaurant app, OpenTable. I’m always curious to see what’s on OpenTable in these parts. When we lived here the first time, there was one restaurant in the entire Stuttgart area in the system. Now there are several hundred.
I saw a place in Tübingen that looked interesting. Lustnauer Mühle got good reviews on OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Google. I figured it was worth a try. Off we went for a 6:30pm reservation.
The restaurant is in a part of town that, prior to this evening, we had not been to before. We ended up parking in a university lot. It was good that we did that, because once we found the restaurant in its very picturesque neighborhood, we noticed there wasn’t a whole lot of street parking. It appears that the buildings next to the restaurant were recently torn down. I’m not sure what will be built in the newly vacated space.
The outside of the restaurant. You can’t tell, but there’s quite a construction site next to it.
We were warmly greeted by the very Italian proprietor, who invited us to sit at one of the two tops near the door. I initially chose a small table by the wall, since I don’t like to look at other people when I’m eating. Likewise, I don’t like it when people stare at me. Unfortunately, the first table we chose was quite small. We ordered wine, water, and antipasti to share, along with entrees. There wasn’t enough room to accommodate all of the plates on the table without risking a disaster. The friendly proprietor then invited us to move to a slightly larger table in the corner, which situated me with my back against the wall overlooking the dining area. Bill sat perpendicular to me.
At our original table, Bill checks out the menu.
Bill decided to get a bottle of primitivo. It was expertly presented by the friendly proprietor, who did something I have never seen before. He pulled out a thermometer and put it in the bottle, in a show of making sure it was served at the right temperature. I’m not sure if this was just a means of impressing us or he was actually concerned with the temperature. Bill was intrigued, though. I bet he gets himself one of those thermometers.
Whether or not the wine was at the optimal temperature, it was good.
The proprietor did not speak English, so our communication was in a smattering of Italian, German, and a few words of English here and there. He had several nice looking people working with him, all of whom appeared to be Italians. The ladies who were helping him serve were pleasant and attentive.
A little bruschetta to start things off. It was at this point that we changed tables.
We split the antipasti, which included prosciutto, melon, mozzarella, tomatoes, tuna with cream and capers, and a mushroom garnish, which Bill removed before I took this photo. This got dinner off to a good start. I especially loved the tuna. We also enjoyed the bread, which appeared to be pizza crust from the wood oven.
Things started to get weird as we were finishing our starter. Another couple sat down at the table next to ours. Due to the way our chairs were arranged, I was sitting perpendicular to their table. If I looked ahead, they were directly in my line of vision, although I tried hard to avoid gazing at them.
The couple appeared to be an older German man and, perhaps, his somewhat younger wife… and if she was his wife, I felt kind of sorry for him. She did not seem to be a very pleasant person. In fact, because of the way my chair was arranged, I was in a position to watch his body language throughout the meal. I’ve heard it said that about 80% of communication is non-verbal. His non-verbal communication was screaming for help as she ran her mouth.
As we were waiting for our main courses, I noticed the woman sitting at the table near ours kept glancing over at us. She’d say something to her companion, then crane her eyes my way. She was not being discreet about it. Her eyes would swivel to the left as she stared at me with what appeared to be a harsh scowl.
I ignored it the first couple of times it happened, but it became more and more obvious and distinctly rude. I was reminded of another memorable and unpleasant experience Bill and I had at a restaurant the first time we lived here. Fortunately, that time, the rude people were outed by the restaurant proprietor, who later explained to us the very embarrassing reason why they were in town. We shared a laugh and I got a good story out of it.
Just as I started to realize the woman’s very overt staring, sneering, and glaring were not going to stop, our entrees arrived and we were mercifully, yet temporarily, distracted by food.
Bill had an Angus steak with white asparagus. This was a rather tender filet cooked in red wine, but it was served well done. The proprietor had not asked Bill what temperature he wanted the beef. Nevertheless, Bill enjoyed the beef, even if it was more done than he would have cooked it.
I had a dorade filet. I could have had a whole fish, but I find eating a whole dorade overwhelming and kind of weird (those eyes staring). If I had known I was going to be stared at by another guest, maybe I would have gotten the whole fish so I could stare in its eyes. The dorade was cooked in lemon juice and served with a medley of vegetables. Thankfully, there were no mushrooms. The filet was pretty good, although I did find some bones and scales.
As we ate dinner, the woman at the table near us kept looking at us, then speaking very animatedly to her companion, who sat mostly silently with his arms crossed and eyes cast downward. Watching them, I was reminded of when I was in high school and took a speech class. Every Friday, we had an exercise called “observations”. We had to observe two people speaking and take note of their facial expressions, tone of voice, hand and body gestures, and other cues. We were not allowed to “interpret” what we observed. For instance, we weren’t supposed to say “I observed an angry man talking to his wife at the supermarket.” Instead, we would say, “I observed a man at the supermarket talking to a woman. He spoke loudly, used profanity, and made violent gestures with his hands.”
Just as I did for the “observations” activity in high school, I found myself covertly observing these two, even as I tried to avert my eyes and not stare. It would have been easy not to stare if the woman at the table hadn’t been so obviously gawking at us and appearing to be unfriendly. Had her companion not looked so uncomfortable and embarrassed, maybe I would not have made any assumptions. In fact, maybe I wouldn’t have even noticed the woman at all, although she really gave off hostile vibes.
After our plates were cleared, the proprietor came over to chat with us some more. He talked us into dessert, then asked us where we were from. Bill explained that he’s from Texas and I am from Virginia, but we live here in Germany (for now, anyway). He told us he lives in Entringen, which also happens to be the town where the restaurant our first “ugly German” dining experience occurred about eight years ago. We used to live about two kilometers from Entringen. Anyway, although the lady might have heard us speaking English, when we told the proprietor where we came from, the guy repeated it loudly enough for her to hear. I could be wrong, but that’s when her glances seemed even more obvious and malicious. I got the sense that she was pissed off that we were there. In fact, I also wondered if maybe they were regulars and we were sitting at the table where she likes to sit. I really have no idea.
I ordered a chocolate souffle, which turned out to be pretty much a glorified lava cake with Hershey’s syrup drizzled on it.
Bill had better luck with the tiramisu.
When the desserts arrived, the woman at the table next to ours took conspicuous note of our selections, then turned to her companion and started speaking animatedly again. His arms remained folded and he was quiet and stern looking as she jabbered on, using her hands for emphasis and stealing more glances at me. I found myself glaring back at her more than once.
After dessert, I told Bill that I needed to use the ladies room. I said, “I bet that woman will watch me the whole time.” Sure enough, she did. And she watched Bill when he got up to pee, too, very obviously staring at him as he walked to the bathroom and came back to sit down.
The funny thing is, as we were driving to the restaurant, I was talking to Bill about why I like living in Germany and I mentioned that most Germans tend to be polite, reserved, and reasonable about a lot of things. With very rare exceptions, I have found this to be true many times over the four and a half total years I’ve spent here. And then tonight, we ran into someone who behaved… well… a bit like a lunatic. While I don’t know why this woman was so fascinated by and inquisitive about our dining habits, her behavior struck me as extremely and egregiously rude– like maybe there was something wrong with her psychologically. I am at a loss as to what her issue was and why she seemed to seethe with hostility toward us.
The bill for tonight’s adventure came to 94 euros before the tip. As we were leaving, the friendly and charming proprietor said goodbye, shook our hands, and said he hoped we’d be back. I probably would go back to the restaurant because it looked like their pasta and pizza dishes had promise. We also liked the ambiance of the place, even though another guest acted boorishly. Most of the other diners seemed to be enjoying themselves as the food came and the wine flowed. But… before we go back there, I think we’d like to try the equally intriguing German restaurant directly across the street, which has what appears to be a very nice biergarten. Maybe if we visit there, we will be able to dine in peace without being gawked at by Looky Lous.
The sun was setting as we walked back to the car, which was not bothered during our dinner.
A sticker on a pole. I like to read these sometimes because they can offer insight into a place.