Rast Cafe, Bulvar, Baku
It’s the Saturday of a long holiday weekend. We’ve had a much longed for lie-in and started our day with fruit salad and croissants on the balcony. Time for a little meander along the Bulvar. The sky is a cloudless periwinkle blue, the day would be a scorcher if it weren’t for a light breeze blowing in from the sun lit Caspian. Pretty girls in their summer frocks are out in force. If there were just a few white sails on the horizon, you could almost believe you’re on the Cote d’Azur. There we are with nothing in particular to do, leisurely flip-flopping along, enjoying the Baku seafront at its best. As the start to a weekend goes, it doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s just the right moment for a coffee, perhaps, or a light bite. And right there on Bulvar, just over the road from the ‘old’ carpet museum, is the Rast Cafe. It’s shaped like a large mushroom with a big outside space overlooking the sea with lots of tables shaded by giant sun umbrellas. Perfect. Our waiter could not be more attentive and is doing his utmost to please. I’d say that there’s maybe a tad too much hovering by the table but still, that’s better than being ignored and he’s a nice chatty, smiley guy. We ask for a Mangal (Aubergine mix) salad which we have with some nice bread and a Chicken ‘Caesar Salad’ which is a bit sparse with just lettuce, tomato, cucumber, some plain croutons, a sprinkling of grated parmesan and a few matchstick thin chicken strips. Neither is particularly earth shattering but they are okay and refreshing, none the less. We have two small bottles of water and an espresso. We’re still a bit hungry, so we order an apple pie and an ice cream. When the ice cream arrives we are told that there’s no apple pie which, to us, makes the ice cream kind of pointless but it’s nice and we eat it anyway.
Finally, we ask for the bill. Now, I don’t know about you but when I see a chit of paper with just a total scribbled on it, I get a bit suspicious. We request another look at the menu and there, together with our waiter, we go through the items we have consumed, thinking that we may have been charged for the apple pie we didn’t have. Sure enough, we’ve been billed AZN22 but have only consumed AZN19. We point this out, a manager joins us, there’s a lot of shaking of heads and shrugging of shoulders and we’re told that, actually, the water costs more than is listed on the menu. We pay AZN20 and leave with a bitter taste in our mouths.
AZN19 is expensive for for what we had, especially considering the portion size and content but we were aware of the prices when we ordered since they were clearly listed on the menu. Overcharging us by AZN3, with or without intent, is not acceptable. No apology was offered.