Taverne des Flandres

May 29, 2002

One of the servers has just had a staring contest out the doorway with a potentially troublemaking vagrant standing on the other side, and finally the older, bearded man turned away and went off down the street to try his luck potentially troublemaking somewhere else.

My table top is artificial wood, with real wood on the sides. The chairs are wooden with slime green seat cushions. A trio of British businessmen is talking loudly at the far end of the bar counter. They probably come here regularly, because they shook hands with the man behind the bar and jokingly ordered a "small fries" before moving down to their no doubt "usual spot."

There are oversized two dimensional bottles of Adelscott beer glued to the floor, a bit too far apart to mark dance steps for some new craze and a little too randomly scattered to designate a path to a hidden Adelscott treasure chest. I guess there is a piano here somewhere, because there are two green "Piano Bar" signs. Each features a pair of personified musical notes, one of which has been given arms and legs and is doing a dance move straight out of Saturday Night Fever. The other note is completely quadriplegic but in a wide-eyed, smiling sort of way.

My ashtray is fat and triangular, a green plastic Carlsberg number. The white cup which housed my espresso is quite plain, sharing a likewise plain white saucer with the requisite spoon and a black tube of powdered sugar named "Gilbert." Across the room is a blue Delerium Tremens advertisement, complete with pink elephant and the words "Elected as the best beer in the world!" Near the poster three tables have been set with pastel green tablecloths and napkins. Every other table I can see is naked and ready for the non-eating public. A mustached man in a light blue button-up shirt (uniform?) is playing a bumpers game, sometimes clutching his head in obvious dismay. Another man is at his side, coaching him in the finer points of bumper game strategy. The machine itself is making strange little electronic noises, like a dying space alien.

Through the side window of the place I can see a cross-section of the vegetable stand next door, where a pudgy man in a red t-shirt and a clown haircut waits for someone to sell his vegetables to. And voila, a pair of women comes up and he goes to work.

A couple of yellow umbrellas grace the front of the café. They are actually octagon-shaped with flaps that hang down on each side, every flap printed with the words "Bitburger / Bitte ein Bit."

One of the entrance double doors is propped open with a wine bottle cork ingeniously crammed between the middle of the bottom edge of the door and the metal step. A second cork lies in wait on the other side of the step in case that door ever needs to be propped open as well. The relative lack of sun along with the slightly chilly breeze ensures, however, that this will be an only one door propping day.

NOTE: A few minutes later an enormous contingent of Germans overran the place, and a little German boy stole the second cork off the front step.

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Taverne des Flandres
Metro: Gare du Nord

Price of an expresso: 2 euros
Sugar: tube of powdered sugar

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