Sublime to…

Qatar, Bahrain and Dubai.

I’m led to believe it is the same in Jeddah, but I’ll let you know.

Mind, I think it is the same everywhere.

Contrast, opposites, variance, call it what you will, but there is no escaping the fact that there is often a gulf in quality as wide as a fat hippo’s ass between one plate of food and another. Price is often a steer on this but not always of course. You tend to get what you pay for. Unless you find yourself in an unregulated taxi in Dubai, the ball crushing embrace of a Redruth maid pissed on Prosecco or anywhere in London if you should turn up looking like a tourist with a sign over your head that says ‘gullible twat’. Money, and what it can buy in those situations, bears no association at all between cost and value. I’d also keep away from the tempting offer of a Nigerian prince who has come into several million dollars of cash but only requires your assistance, via your bank account, to help him access it. Pay those prices and the only thing you’ll get is a sinking feeling, followed by bitter disappointment and the overwhelming desire to drink yourself into the gutter where you will be overwhelmed by sorrow and your own vomit.

But otherwise, yes pay a bit more and you can, or should, expect a subsequent rise in quality of the offer. Denzil Penberthy found this out to his detriment when paying a fiver for a hand job round the back of the Twilight Zone in Redruth, only to find out the ‘hand’ in question was arthritic and had about as much grip as that of a week old corpse. “Bleddy ‘ell, I ‘ad to finish it myself”. Boy Trevaskis (who was 80 if he was a day) nodded in recognition as he himself was also a fiver lighter than he’d been earlier in the evening. Everyone knows you should pay at least £10 for a Redruth hand job…or get it for free by marrying. Serves Denzil right, the cheapskate.

As I was saying.

The Via Brasil Restaurant on the 28th floor of the Wyndham Garden Hotel offers an ‘all in’ dinner called a ‘churrascaria’. It is one of those rooftop terrace bar/restaurants which I believe are doing a decent trade during these covid times as eating indoors is verboten. I’m not often to be found in the queue for a ‘Brazilian’. I tend to like certain things to be left well alone, but in this case I’d make an exception. Brazil is famous for its Nuts, Football and well mown lawns. To that little list I can add the chef’s special, served up with suitable theatre and alcohol. The view over the city at night was breathtaking. Pity the ‘music’ wasn’t though. Imagine modern formulaic booming dance music which was matched in its banality by its volume and a speaker system far too heavy on the bass. I had to ask it to be turned down several times. The sound was so badly distorted it created a vibration in the lower bowel that threatened to end the evening’s repast before it had even began.

But the food, oh the food. Sublime.

Churrascaria is a method of both cooking and delivery. It does not do it justice to call it a barbecue served at your table. The waiter brings over huge skewers and slices the meats to your liking. It’s an ‘all in’ because you order a churrascaria and then it just arrives. And keeps arriving. Vegetarians and vegans need not apply, as this will disgust you in any case. All the meat you can eat, all the different cuts and cooked as you like it. Tender and tasty. Moist and Moreish. Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Pork. It just goes on and on. It is served with a side salad but this is just an afterthought. Six little ramekins which contain just enough salad to feed a chicken on a diet.

The menu has just two options: Either with or without alcohol. That’s it. That’s your options. Those of us who feel overwhelmed by choice and find it hard to make a decision have nothing to fear here. You either want the ‘all you can drink’ booze option, or you don’t. If you choose the without booze, you still of course can order what you fancy, it just does not come unlimited while you eat. Wisely I chose the ‘without’.

There are children dying in Africa of malnutrition. Sorry to bring things down a notch, but there are. There are badly nourished children at home as well, some of that is my fault. I have been known to snatch half a pasty from a little child’s grasp, gull like, and run away laughing hysterically at my impertinence. Yet, the amount of meat on offer here would feed a family for Christmas, Hannukah and Eid. It is opulence on display, in a region that displays its opulence like a stripper displays her nipple tassled tits in a Las Vegas bar. All, big and in yer face but without the wobbles (so I am told).

The bill was a bit eye watering, or that could have been the rum.

But that was yesterday.

Then we descend into Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon Ramsey would not last 5 seconds in this place. It was called the ‘Turkish Grill’, chosen because it had an open air restaurant and anyway how bad can a grill be? It had the benefit of being cheap. Very very cheap.

Its relationship to Turkey was about as authentic as me blacking up and singing Bob Marley songs about Redemption in a white working man’s club in Rochdale. None of the staff were Turkish, which in hindsight is a bit of a give-away. Another red light was the menu. You know the sort. A piece of laminated card with pictures. The sort you find in Redneck cafes in Alabama in which bloated obese good ‘ole boys drink Tennessee whisky as an aperitif while their wives stay at home mending their white hoods. The pictures are the biggest work of fiction since the Bible and are to be as trusted about as much as Boris Johnson’s promises on Brexit or a City banker running a committee on financial ethics.

The ‘chicken wrap’…well. Frankly, an embarrassment. The Pitta wrap was scorched and the chicken, such as it was, was an ultra thin grey slime pasted to the inside. It tasted of nothing. A mountain of rice, as bland in taste as a whitewash wall, flattered to deceive. I’d get more taste from the inside of a wallpaper paste bucket which in truth would be more pleasing to the eye. The pineapple smoothie was superficially sweet but then left a layer of slime around the mouth that only a double whisky could shift.

It was cheap.

It was not very cheerful.

Denzil got more value from his fiver.

Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

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