Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: Fresh air at Club Nàutic

All too often, good locations do not have the restaurants they deserve. Last time I took my family to Club Nàutic in Vilanova (address: Escullera de Ponent s/n, phone: 93 815 93 27), we were so unimpressed that we left already after the aperitifs. Last Sunday, we took a gamble and brought some friends to this place without having tested it in between.

Being the official restaurant of the marina, Club Nàutic has one of this town’s best sceneries directly overlooking all anchored sailing boats. It is also a uniquely spacious restaurant – indoors as well as on the terrace. This is what attracted my family to come here last time, but we were scared away by the slow service. Even worse, chairs had been left unarranged after other guests had left and on some tables dirty dishes and full ashtrays were piling high. Service is enough of a challenge in the restaurant industry. If you manage make new guests change their mind already before they have had the first contact with your staff, you really need to re-think what your establishment is all about.

Encouraged by a rumour that Club Nàutic had a new management and some window shopping proving that things had improved, we decided to take the risk and try the place again. We had invited some friends from the Swedish community of Barcelona to come here, and although many of them already knew our town, we wanted to give them a pleasant and lasting flavour of Vilanova. What better place than the marina is there to do so?

Vilanova is a place for outdoor life and some rounds of the Scandinavian social game kubb was meant to be the main attraction of the program. In the late afternoon the sun managed to break through the clouds, so we could play for a while, but except for that we had rain and overcast throughout the day. Since the weather conditions were not on our side, we were lucky to be more than satisfied with out choice of restaurant.

With two babies and two small children in the group, we had reserved a table indoors. From the very first moment, I could relax from my worries about the restaurant. Our long table had been laid with linen-coloured placemats and proper textile napkins and a fast glance at the other guests plates revealed fresh ingredients presented in a nice way.

Half of the group decided for the set 3-course lunch (€ 18 for anyone not yet a member of the local sailing club) and the other half ordered some starters followed by paellas. Only one girl in the group had such a problem selecting from the typically Mediterranean offer, that together with our oldest son, she ended up with the children’s menu. I assume that she would have had similar difficulties in most other Catalan restaurants. As far as my wife and I could judge, our friends were as satisfied with the meal as we were. Personally, I especially liked the fresh sea bream which I had for a main course, although I had a tough time removing the bones while at the same time stopping my youngest son from playing with the ketchup on his older brother’s plate.

Club Nàutic is a good place for children, especially when they reach the age when they can look after themselves. The marina leaves them with many things too look at. In the lounge there is a huge old steering wheel on the wall, which I let my oldest son play with until he got so excited that he almost knocked down the pictures from the wall.

I am still concerned that the staff of the restaurant is slow to clean away empty dishes when guests leave their tables. This is especially the case in the strangely planned and under-utilized lounge, but it can be that that part of the premises does not fall under the restaurant concession.

My family and I will certainly come back, but we will wait until we reach the temperatures which we should usually have by this time of the year. I want our next lunch at Club Nàutic to be on the terrace.

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