Monday, 9 April 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: L’Oganqüit - a good old friend

Nobody is perfect. One of the nice with good friends is that once you have reached a certain level of confidence, small mistakes are easily forgiven. This is very much true for restaurants as well.

L’Oganqüit (address: c/ Llibertat 128; phone: 93 815 63 62) does not accept reservations. Last Friday, when I was planning to bring my parents and family there for the evening, we happened to pass by in the afternoon and I decided to knock on the door, just to make sure that the usual opening hours were valid also for the Easter holiday. Although at least three people inside noticed me and although none of them was overly busy since the restaurant was still not open, nobody came to open the door to check what I wanted. In a social context this is considered rude. From a business point of view, it is a sadly easy way to lose potential new customers.

Since my family is a big l’Oganqüit fan, we have already forgotten them for this inhospitable behaviour. Maybe the restaurant is already so popular that the management feels that they do not need to attract new people. Although I would not agree with that conclusion, I have to admit that this place is always very busy and it is hard to imagine that less than two years ago, they were located in much smaller premises in Rambla de la Pau.

We had the opportunity to visit l’Oganqüit at the old address and thanks to small children and Swedish dinner habits we always came early enough to get a table. What struck us from the first visit was the personal attention given by the French owner of the place. We were presented with a Mediterranean menu with international details and immediately understood that we had reached the famous place which more than one person had recommended to us but of which nobody remembered the name. After 9 p.m. in the evening you usually had to queue for a long time to get a table so we were not surprised to learn that the establishment would soon move.

From our point of view, the move was clearly for the better, although the owner does not feel as present as before. Since we always come with a push chair, we appreciate the extra space and the fact that the personnel are as welcoming to children as they have always been. Butcher’s paper on textile tablecovers is not the most stylish thing you can put on your tables but fantastic if you come with children, especially since l’Oganqüit usually provides them with crayons as well. In our case, it keeps our oldest son busy drawing while we enjoy our meal. Except for some strange log-cabin decorations in the area where we usually sit, the place is has a clean and trendy touch, with atmospheric dimmed-down lighting. We are happy to be able to sit in the non-smoking area, but the corridor to the part where smoking is allowed, is probably Vilanova’s best example of modern interior architecture in a restaurant.

Since our youngest son was born, we do not come here as often as we did while we only had one child. With my parents visiting, we wanted to go back to some of our favourite restaurants. As always, our three-year-old needed to go to the toilets – this time only once. His personal l’Oganqüit record is three toilet visits during one dinner but to excuse him I have to admit that going to the toilet here is a bit exciting. Our one-year-old contributed with a little performance of “before-sleep-tantrums”, but all of this is much easier to cope with when you have two extra pairs of hands supporting you.

For my wife and me, the dishes were as good as always. The place prides itself with “artisan cuisine” and we above all appreciate the interesting salads as starters (approx. € 9) and elaborate pastas and pizzas for main course (around € 13). My parents went for steaks and just like the experience I have personally had with tuna fish at an earlier occasion, these dishes did not reach quite the same standard. My mother is certainly not a picky person and therefore accepted her entrecôte as it came. I am not a big meat eater, but I know that well-done should not mean still red in the middle while charred on the outside.

Having said all this, we will not have a problem to accept this small flaw with our good friend l’Oganqüit. Instead, we all look forward to the day when our youngest son is old enough so that we again can start to come regularly with the whole family.

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