Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Disappointing Chaîne Dinner

Last night was the latest get together of the Chaîne des Rotisseurs here in Beijing, held at Vascos restaurant in the Wangfujing Hilton. The menu sounded very promising, featuring dishes from places around the world associated with Portuguese exploration or colonies. Thus the menu began with a dish from the Canary Islands (aren't they Spanish??), then on to Cape Verde, proceeding from there to Mozambique, then Kenya and Calcutta (uh, isn't that British; why not Goa??), and finally back to Lisbon. The dishes sounded like they should be good, too, with things like fried oysters, quail b'stilla, and roasted lobster, but in fact the best dish of all was the palate cleansing sorbet between the lobster and beef course. Problem was that the flavors were insipid for the most part, and several of the dishes were served in such a way that we were not sure how to eat them (with fingers, or utensils?). Some of our dining companions blamed the Portuguese head chef for the problem, arguing that the Portuguese just don't know how to cook, since their cuisine is so simple (mind you, he was German, so not exactly arguing from a position of strength...).

Not only was the food disappointing, but the restaurant itself seems to be the space that the hotel uses for its breakfast buffet or something, since the room was pretty lacking in charm, and the tables were long rectangles that were not conducive to conversation at all, so we ended up chatting only with the people seated immediately next to us. At least they were interesting, so that made for a bit of a diversion, but overall the meal was a real downer, and we even left feeling a bit hungry!