There are restaurants that have a great kitchen but the service is not that good. There are restaurants which have excellent service but the food is not the best. And there is Massai,...but lets start from the beginning.
I was really looking forward to this one, as I have never eaten crocodile, python, zebra or any other "exotic" animal from Africa before.
Unfortunately two friends had to cancell just the day before and so we were only 4 this time. I wont complain, since I was escorted by three lovely ladies. Upon arrival, the restaurant was already full and they were sending people back home, who did not have a reservation. I did not want to be an ass, this time, and told the owner (an elderly man) that we are only 4 instead of 6 and he can give us another table or we share the table.
Thinking I did something nice I was looking forward to a fun evening. Boy, was I wrong...
The owner needed almost 5 minutes to find me in the reservation book, even though it was the first name up (I was standing half a meter away and could see it!), then he started talking to a waitress in their mothertongue and did not look very friendly - neither to me, nor to her.
It took them then another 10 minutes to finally find a table for us. I would not really consider it table one could or want to eat at, since it was way in the corner surrounded by three dark brown walls. We were literally leaning on the walls and it felt like sitting in some cave. Maybe...for a romantic dinner with your sweatheart it could be nice...NO, the walls were ugly, the space very limited and no "African flair" whatsoever...just a small, brown cave!
I asked them for another table (there was one - same size), but all the owner could say was: "No, this table is reserved!". After trying to explain to him that we reserved a table as well and I was just being nice by telling him that we are less than expected, he just looked at me with a glance that could mean : Who are you and what do you want from me...you can be lucky that you even got a table!
This was the first time I almost wanted to leave straight away.
So, we were sitting in the corner (nothing for claustrophobic people), and were trying to forget the bad start and rather try to have a great dinner. Since it was that dark that I had problems seeing who was in front of me, I asked for more light. There was only one lamp on the table, which was not very strong. It was actually screwed into the table. which led to more problems later on. I asked for more light, or at least some candles. 10 Minutes later we received one candle...I asked 2-3 more times for a second one, but we never got one...
None of us really experienced African food before, or at least, it has been a long time ago. So best to do in such a situation is to order mixed platters.We did this for the starters and the main dish.
First we received a complimentary soup. It was a millet soup cooked with vegetables and coconutmilk. It was nothing spectacular.
As a starter we ordered pastry shells (vegetarian and with mincemeat), sweet bananas and black-eyed beans (not the band...) in some sort of sauce. It was not much and it was cold. They actually do not offer platters, so we just ordered the three startes as one platter. Apparently we are the first ones to do this at Massai...they did not really understand what we wanted.
Now the fun started...We received an amuse gueule which considered of two thin carrot stripes and two thin raddish stripes. Thats it. If that is what they call "greetings from the kitchen", then the cook doesnt talk much.
So, we were 4 people and received three amuse gueule. First we thought she ll be back with the fourth one and waited. We waited for almost 10 minutes, until finally a waitress came and asked if everything is ok. I looked at her and asked her: We are four people and have three plates. what could be missing? I confused her, again...
Instead of coming back with the missing plate...she came back with the question: so what exactly is the problem? Excuse me!? I explained again and was already pissed off. Another waitress came and asked us what we ordered for main dish, since only the main dishes get amuse gueule. I mean, it is not that the raddish and the carrot are that spectacular that I really really wanted it, but it was a question of service and honour now. I explained her that we ordered three platters, which in fact consisted of three main dishes but for four people, since we all wanted to share!
She left, came back 5 minutes later with our receipt which stated exactly what I said. She tried to explain me again that only the main dishes get amuse gueule and since we ordered three main dishes we receive only three amuse gueule, that is how it works here. I told her that she should not start arguing with me and rather bring a plate, so we can finally eat. The plate came....we ate the carrot and the raddish...what a joke.
The main dish came on one big plate. The plate was so big, that it was not possible to have the smaller ones completely on the table (due to the lamp in the middle of the table). You had to eat carefully, otherwise you would have had the entire dish on your pants. The vegetarian platter consisted of different vegetables and potatoes...nothing special and it was not warm. The meat was, unfortunately they did not offer crocodile or python that night, zebra,kudu-antilope, ostrich and sprinbok. It came with some rice. The meat was cold as well. Except of the ostrich, the quality of the rest seemed rather bad.
In the end they even charged us more that it was and we did not really feel like sitting there one minute longer than we needed and left early.
To sum it up: Worst service I had in a very long time (Due Forni has an amazing service compared to Massai!) and I need to find a different restaurant in Berlin to satisfy my curiosity regarding crocodile and co.
Berlin - Prenzlauerberg
Lychener Str. 12
Tel: +49 30 48625595
fax: +49 30 48625595
Here some more impressions: