And this is what you get for not doing your research. One of my partner’s conditions for going to Monschau was that we not go to any ‘recommended restaurants’ and to simply go with our gut. Literally and figuratively. Our many arguments and discussions over the years arising from where to eat has made him wary about anything I come up with, so as a concession on this trip we went to the first place that looked promising. For lunch, we went to ‘Restaurant Hotel At The Star’, which was both a hotel and a restaurant. From the outside, it looked good enough, with its traditional timber-house facade for which the town is known, and an access bridge fronting the busy market square. It was in an area that most postcard pictures show as the most photographed location in village. So off we went.
I got the typical German schnitzel that came at an amazing price while my partner got the Hawaiian version – really, put in a slice of pineapple and anything can be called Hawaiian. What was starting to get me worried was the apparent lack of waitstaff and attention to our table. The service could very well have been a figment of my imagination – it was practically non-existent. It easily took ten minutes before we even got a menu (after walking over and asking for it), and another ten minutes before anyone took our order. I could already sense my partner getting annoyed and ready to walk out the door at any moment. Eventually, we did get all our food and after all had come and gone, our simple lunch came to over an hour. It took another ten minutes before we got the check (after walking over and asking for it). Incredibly, the ‘Restaurant Hotel At The Star’ didn’t take debit or credit cards – only cold hard cash. I would have expected that at a food hawker in Asia maybe but not in a tourist town in Germany. I had to walk a good length of the town and ask two or three people before I could find an ATM to get cash. Not surprisingly, we didn’t get a receipt.
We walked off our lunch by wandering around the rest of the town and then hiking up a hill to an overlook. It got so warm I was actually sweating! I stripped off my sweater and for the first time this year walked around in just a shirt. From there I was ready to call it quits and head home, but not before a quick repast of some famous German dessert and coffee somewhere. We ended up back down at the main square and settled in at a place that offered free wifi and had a beautiful, expansive view of the entire square in front of it. The wifi didn’t work and the slice of cake was just okay, but for a few more minutes, I got to see the hustle and bustle of pretty Monschau town.
My partner definitely got his wish as neither place we went to was in anyone’s list, much less on Tripadvisor. The prices were definitely right – this wasn’t the Netherlands after all – and the food wasn’t too bad, but for me overall, nothing beats reading up ahead of time and feeling satisfied at experiencing the best (or close to it) that a place can offer. If ever there’s a next time, it’s going to be at Zum Haller!