Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Brunch x2

I went outside of my comfort zone on New Year’s Day this year. I’d been feeling a little lonely and wondered if it would be a good idea to go alone to the holiday brunch at my favorite restaurant in Minsk. I wasn’t sure I’d actually go until the holidays arrived and I went to a New Year’s Eve service at the church I attend here. By New Year’s Eve, I had finally begun living in the present and stopped worrying about whether my life conformed to my expectations. Better, I resolved, to make the best of what is.

So, on New Year’s Day I went over to the Hotel Beijing for brunch, believing it started as usual at noon. It did not. When I arrived, the hostess came to meet me, calling me by name and apologizing that she hadn’t made clear that this event started at two o’clock, not noon. Fortunately, I’d signed up for brunch plus spa access, so she gave me my wrist band early and sent me off to the spa, where I spent a delightful two hours swimming laps, reading my Kindle and generally relaxing. I had a great visit to the spa and then returned to the restaurant.

Christina told me that they still weren’t ready but asked me to sit in the lounge for a couple of minutes while they finished preparing the restaurant. Finally, just a few minutes late, she invited me in. I was still the only client to arrive so early, so when she opened the double doors the band started playing just for me. The restaurant looked absolutely beautiful, and the waitresses and kitchen staff stood attentively at their stations.

I finally met Sergey, the lead chef, whom I had complimented several times via the waitresses. And all my favorite waitresses came by to make sure I had everything I needed. The band even took note of which tunes I particularly liked, and perhaps they played more of it. I had a great time and took it easy over my meal and spent the entire four hours in the restaurant, first eating and finally just listening to the music.

Grateful for the good treatment, I wrote them a letter after I returned home.

I left Belarus shortly after that and returned only recently. A couple of days after arrival, I took Tanya there for lunch on International Women’s Day. The people I knew at the restaurant buzzed all around me, grateful to have read my letter and touched that I managed to write to them in Russian. As we left, they gave me a gift certificate for a Maslenitsa brunch the next day. This gift certificate for two included spa access, so I invited my gym buddy (in the photo) who has told me how much she likes their spa and pool. We had another great day there, eating and swimming. Once again, I saw Sergey the chef and a lot of other people I like very much. We ate very well, from a delicious array of dishes prepared for the occasion. The staff told me I was a member of the restaurant family and urged me to spend more time there. I probably will.

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