Crimean time

The Cafe

So far, I have not been able to determine the difference between a Restaurant, and a Cafe, other than a Restaurant I visited with a dear lady friend was located on a very large parcel of land with a small pond. The outside of the Restaurant contained many beautiful statues from the Greek era, and before entering the main entrance of the Restaurant there is a statue of a bare naked lady!!! There is also a coat and hat check fellow to the right of the door, and he is very pleasant indeed. An ear shattering "live band" was performing some old American "pop tunes" very poorly, and it was nearly impossible to talk to my lady.

Perhaps a week later, as I was working with Sasha at his Heidelberg House Center, I was overcome with hunger, and Sasha asked Roman to walk me up to The Cafe. Sasha asked me what I would like to have for dinner, and I informed him that I would like to have some beef. "Beef Stroganoff," he asked? "Yes," I replied that sounds good, "and I'd like some fruit and vegetables." Roman and I walked thru the darkened footpaths (During the month of December, Sunset occurs just about 4pm in the afternoon! Sunrise is just a bit past 7am, and I am having great difficulty adjusting to so little sunlight!) for a few blocks, and across the crosswalk to The Cafe.

Upon entering a small, very well decorated cafe, Roman and I sat at a beautiful wooden table next to a very well equipped matching wooden bar. A waitress brought a big burgundy menu to our table, and Roman started looking thru the pages for Beef Stroganoff, Fruit and Vegetables. His brow was all furrowed, and he looked totally bewildered by the size of the Menu. After about 3 minutes a waitress at the table across the aisle asked if we would like a Menu in English!!! I must have said "something" to Roman in American English for her to ask this question, or perhaps Roman was taking so long to make a selection, she may have thought he did not know how to read Russian!!! Roman stayed a few moments to see if I understood the English Menu, and then he returned to work.

A beautiful busty blonde approached me, gazed deeply into my eyes and asked, "Shto vy budete zakazyvat?” Perhaps it is a good thing that I neither understood, nor spoke Russian at this particular time in history. Therefore, I just pointed to the items I’d selected on the menu and placed my order.

Christina (5 weeks later, I learned her name) reminded me so much of Kathy Woods, one of three cute little cheerleaders, I’d dated in High School, and so many fond memories of our times together flooded thru my mind, as Christina walked back and forth between her other customers.

When I received my bill, I was charged for 5 items, however I’d only received 4 of them and the total charges were a bit over 48 hrivna (Approximately $9.90) and being used to tipping between 10% to 20% or more for service in America, I tipped her 10 hrivna. (Approximately $2.00 for service, and wonderful memories.)

The menu is quite extensive, and the food is freshly prepared, therefore it may take a little while to receive your order. The fruits and vegetables are fresh, crisp and absolutely delicious. The beautiful wooden bar is well stocked with beer, whiskey, liquor, vodka, and bubbly sparkling Champagne!!! The Caf? also has a nice selection of Chocolates and Chocolate treats.

Two more treats are The Beautiful, Blonde, Baby Faced waitress and the nice brunette, who frequently take turns waiting my table. Both thrill me, beyond measure for pretending to understand my heavily Texas accented Russian.

Because this Caf? is so very close to Heidelberg House, I’ve become one of their frequent customers, although I’m just a bit disappointed whenever Christina is not working. The other two waitresses are also very courteous and efficient, and they no longer overcharge me, however I will still tip above what is expected, and they expect nothing, because the tips are automatically set at 5%!!! This is actually a much more effective way to tip any waitress, or waiter, because there are so very many people who refuse to tip anything at all!!!

Now, there is an unwritten policy in The Ukraine to always “overcharge” tourists, and especially Americans. Perhaps they should have a sign posted in the window stating: “Special Prices for Americans” Actually, I did not mind being overcharged by Christina, who will change hair colors and hair styles several times within one week, because she gave me so many delightful memories of Kathy and I!!!

Joe K. Roberts

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