No one was there. All the tables were laid with care as warm lamps bathed the room and cast shadows on empty seats. Lengths of vacant, pristine tables stretched across the spacious restaurant.
Where were they? Where were the patrons who must frequent this prosperous-looking, out-of-the-way treasure? Homey prints cluttered the cool green walls, and potted plants crowded the windowsills.
As we pondered the absence of customers, the owner–chef, Alian Scharle-Keersch, popped out of the kitchen to welcome us to his brasserie. With a little flourish, he produced huge leather menus clad with tassels. First came the specials, of which I chose the bouschee at 12.70 euros, and Robert roamed to the heartier side of the menu with an escalope for 17.05 euros.
Chef Alain did not seem in the least concerned with the lack of diners. He calmly took our order and patiently returned with our drinks. He continued to putter about the dining room, slicking down tablecloths, polishing silver, and setting places at various tables and booths in the back. A brief whisper of the huge main door, and voices soon joined us. A pleasant couple greeted Chef Alian with the hellos and handshakes of old friends. Just a neighbor, we thought to ourselves.
While enjoying our pre-dinner drinks, we speculated about this charming restaurant stranded in the small village of Born, a hamlet of only 300 inhabitants. We blamed the off-season for the lack of customers and then the rainy cold weather. As we settled into the cozy atmosphere, Chef Alain appeared with a huge tureen and large, flat bowls which he filled to the brim with steaming pea soup. He tossed in a basket of delicious dark bread and disappeared into his domain again. Huge doors whisked again as a jolly group bustled into the hollow restaurant.
With a little trolley, Chef Alain presented dinner. A steaming tray contained enormous slices of schnitzel sautéed in butter, surrounded by gleaming brussels sprouts and bright carrots. A bowl of fries followed. I was presented with a plate of chicken in cream sauce over a biscuit pastry. As I picked at my weak choice, Robert gallantly shared his crisp cutlets and veggies with me. We moaned and then groaned.
Slowly, the tinkle and babble in the background invaded our space, and we stared in amazement. Guest, patrons, and customers sprouted from every table. Oblivious, we marveled at the content crowd and had no more doubt about how this restaurant survives.
Chef Alain took our credit card and had loads of parking in the rear. We have decided from now on to take the heftier side of the menu and maybe order two plates.