Monday, December 23, 2013

Accidental Dinner Companions

Last night we made our way over to the famous Figlmuller for the world renowned schnitzel. Crowded to the max, people were milling around reading the menu, waiting for friends, waiting for tables. After we made it to the front door, with few words, we were bustled into the restaurant by a big burly man and shown to a huge booth occupied by two young people. The restaurant was pushing everyone together trying to accomodate the crowds. After a few awkward moments, our young table mates seemed to warm to the idea of sharing and we began talking.

We were packed in like sardines; you could feel the energy in the air. Waiters dodged and weaved between the diners balancing huge trays loaded with dinner plate sized pieces of schnitzel. When I saw the portion size I thought we were doomed. Not another "success by excess" kind of place. But I was wrong.The schnitzel was delicious with a light crusty breading, not a bit greasy. Once the lemon was liberally squeezed over the surface and a dusting of salt, applied, I'd say it was the best schnitzel I've tasted, although I could eat only half of it.

Our dinner companions were Stanilaus and Elena, young bankers from London on vacation. He's Bulgarian from Sofia, she's a Russian from Moscow and Peru. Besotted with each other, they told us they were getting married soon. He kept alluding to Tiffany's and a ring in his back pocket. We had the feeling the engagement ring might appear on Christmas while they planned to be in Prague.

He was a rugby player during his college days. Went to Vassar for a while, the London School of Economics and the Oxford language school. She had some Master's degrees in business, economics. She works in mergers and acquisitions with a grueling schedule; her hours are 9:30 am to midnight, daily. We asked what they saw for themselves in ten years. Immediately, they responded...."kids, family, home". They are looking for another place to start their family life and are considering Australia. Such a talented couple...whoever gets them will be lucky to have them. 

Instant bond, we felt parental, well, grand parental. We picked up their check - the first wedding present, she quipped. 

One of those lovely experiences you have once in a while when traveling.