Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Forgettable Eating: l'Harley

Nearly every Friday lunchtime I go to lunch out with my two favourite male pals from the lab where I work. We come back usually a little late having enjoyed a pleasant meal with wine at a local establishment.

For a year, our favourite eating hole was the Bel Canto in Prades le Lez. It was run by a boss lady who employed other ladies - an all-female establishment, which was homely, cosy, tasty and good value. The waitress was the renowned 'Miss Trouser' because of the delectability of her behind according to the discerning male taste of pal B. She had a lovely smile, took our orders with charm and humour and walked off to the pleasure of pal B who greatly enjoyed the view.

Then the Bel Canto closed, to our chagrin.

We had to find another 'local' and took up residence at the old Jogging, now the Trinque Fougasse which I have blogged about in a previous post. It's great there because, as it's a winebar, you can taste the wine before you choose. The menu is always tasty and also good value, but not as good as the Bel Canto was (*sigh*).

Recently I found in my letterbox a flier from a restaurant called l'Harley, formerly the Bel Canto. This was exciting news. Pal B wondered if Miss Trouser would be there or whether, now newly married, she would be sadly absent dealing with babies.

It was only pal B and I who ventured there last Friday. Pal W was overloaded so declined despite the obvious temptation. From a cosy little place it had been transformed into a 'theme' restaurant - difficult in 20m² - the theme being Harley Davidson bikes, unsurprisingly. There was a ghastly 'painting by numbers' on glass picture of a Harley, some generic old American car and a petrol pump on the wall, and an even more horrendous mural of a mechanic leaning on a bike on the far wall.

Aesthetically disastrous so far.

The menu was disheartening too. Miss Trouser used to tell us what was on the menu as it changed regularly. At l'Harley, we were presented with a placemat sized piece of paper onto which was printed the menu. This always makes my heart sink as you know they have 5000 copies of it, and until the last one is used, that's what'll be on offer.

Well, I suppose there were the 'specials' too. I chose the 12Eur menu of a starter and a main course. The starter was a buffet with various things which had been taken out of tins or plastic boxes, and I had a lasagna for the main course. Maybe it had been home-made, maybe it hadn't.

I drank water, the most ghastly water in the region. Either it had been sitting there for three weeks or it was the first water drawn off the tap that day and was full of built-up crap. Pal B had a beer. We weren't offered wine even though there were three 10-litre wine boxes by the till.

The waitress was a dopey cow with a stud just under her nose and was probably the daughter of the owner, a sharper version of her daughter. I've heard since that mother is a croney of the guy who owns the bar round the corner. That would explain a lot.

I'm in mourning twice now. Once for the demise of the Bel Canto, and twice for what's replaced it.

Don't bother going there.


  1. Get's one to thinking of the difficulty of maintaining a reputation for a restaurant (or other service oriented industry). What does such a business get sold for? What do you buy when you buy a restaurant... and when you change the name, you can argue "not much" eh?

  2. Absolutely Minter. If it was sold as a going concern with regular clientele I would imagine it would have been worth something.

    It was empty a long time though, so perhaps the new owners got it cheap, and wanted it because of its proximity to the bar round the corner.

    I really don't like it, or the staff. The phrase 'common as muck' springs to mind although of course, I would never think such a thing...

  3. in a world where all things were tranparent, we'd be able to shut down such establishments with a few wickedly accurate reviews... one day.

  4. The place was full of their pals come to support them, I suppose. From being a nice friendly restaurant it had turned into a rowdy caff.

    The speciality was quail fillets with foie gras sauce. Doesn't sound very filling to me...


Comments are bienvenue.