Recently, a colleague & his wife suggested we have lunch together at a restaurant they had just discovered in Bustling Downtown Izmit. Although foreign food restaurants are woefully unknown in these parts of Turkey - apart from Burger King, McDonalds & Domino's, the representatives of American cuisine - we were assured that this place had an eclectic menu with lots of vegetarian options. Given that we live in Bustling Downtown Izmit and they live in The Middle of Nowhere, we were not a little
It turns out it hadn't. It was a café well known to us, whose staff redefines surly, whose service refines lethargic and whose food redefines dreck. Another colleague of ours is smitten by the place - which she lovingly calls the Cami Café. Cami - pronounced as in peanut butter and jammy - is Turkish for mosque and it is, indeed, right smack dab next door to the city's largest and loudest mosque which doesn't always make for an ambient dining experience. Allah may be great but the café isn't. Our best and only theory is that her hard-on for the place is due to a previous rotation of marginally less mediocre waiters, long replaced by the indifferent & incompetent louts now on staff, and the fact that she is one of the dimmest people we have ever met.
In a word, we hate the Cami Café and have long since stopped going there; however, that day we had no option but to go, if only so that our other colleagues could - and would - see it for the craphole restaurant it really is. And it is. Unless it had changed. Which we doubted. Besides, it was their suggestion.
Allow me to fast forward. Our colleagues order some dead animal dish while I, playing it safe (had I not been there before?) order a cheese pizza. Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad
We are pretty confident in our identification of his lunch as a pizza rather than ravioli as it is a big round thing with a crust which has been conveniently cut into four slices and garnished with pickles no less.
We draw the waiter's attention to the mistake. Naturally he speaks no English but our colleague's wife speaks fair Turkish and she tries to explain the error. He shakes his head. We ask for the menu and show him that the Four Cheese Ravioli - sitting proudly under the heading Makarna (= macaroni, or pasta) - is on a separate page than that of the Four Cheese Pizza, sitting proudly under the heading Pizza (= pizza, or pizza). He shakes his head. We again try to explain what has happened - we're not even blaming him (perhaps the kitchen made a mistake - is this not the Cami Café?) - but he's not budging one inch. No, no there would be no ravioli smile for Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad.
He points to the big round thing with a crust which has been conveniently cut into four slices and garnished with pickles no less and says, "ravioli".
At this point, Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad brings the proceedings to a close: at least it is a vegetarian pizza he concedes, and our time is running short. He tucks into the Pizza That Thinks It's Ravioli. We finish our lunch in two frames of mind:
1) Mr. This Cat's (Not) Abroad & I: Feel gleefully vindicated as the Cami Cafe is still a craphole restaurant
2) Our colleagues: Not a little distressed that their new find is a craphole restaurant.
When the bill comes, we notice that the Four Cheese Ravioli Mr. This Cat had ordered but not received is 50 kurus more than the Four Cheese Pizza which he didn't order but received. A negligible sum - just less than 75¢ but galling just the same.
... and the Unravelling of the Ravioli Mystery as I promised earlier? There is no mystery - there is just no customer service here. As an addendum, the same colleague & his wife were recently in Istanbul where he ordered a plate of rigatoni. When his wife's meal arrived alone, he asked the waiter about the status of his pasta. The waiter returned a few moments later with a basket of dinner rolls. He never got the rigatoni.
They moved to Russia last weekend. I can't help but think it had something to do with the rigatoni.