Sunday, 13 May 2007

Restaurants in Vilanova: Beverly Hills – as American as it sounds

Restaurants in Vilanova serve Catalan food, Spanish food and Mediterranean food. After some days, many tourists from Northern Europe will start to look for alternatives, especially when the children have eaten croquetes for the third day in a row. Beverly Hills is our city centre’s American alternative. And it is a good place for children – maybe too good.

Before learning to know Vilanova, my wife and I were quite critical about the restaurant offer. This is still a traditional Catalan town and people prefer local food. Furthermore, it is a small town so we were unfair in complaining that we did not find as much variation as we had done in big cities where we had lived before. Already after some months here did we start to discover good places with a more international cuisine and there are plenty of promising places where we simply have not been yet.

One of the places which we found early but disregarded for a long time was Beverly Hills (address: Rambla Principal 80; phone: 93 814 32 68). More than once did we make negative comments about the place being a bad copy of an American diner. I was also moaning about the fact that they have very few dishes not containing meat. But then, one day, it struck my wife that there was a lot of American food which she had missed since we came here. Caesar’s salads and proper hamburgers served as nice dishes and not only as fast food.

Once we had dared to admit the problem to ourselves, we knew where to go for a solution. Beverly Hills offers Tex-Mex starters, a rich selection of hamburgers plus some toasts and salads. We certainly prefer food of higher quality and more attention to detail, but this is good value for money.

The interior of the indoor restaurants carries American artefacts and if you walk through the building, there is a small patio with some outdoor tables on the other side. Except for being hygienic, the paper placemats on the tables give you a chance to study a map of the real Beverly Hills and memorize the addresses of movie stars. I like to find more sophisticated table decorations but understand that the management here might see little value in it. This establishment caters to children and that tends to result in a rough treatment.

During our last visit to Beverly Hills we got a new perspective on the dining culture in Catalonia. Restaurants with local food open their kitchens at 8.30 p.m. or later, which makes this place unique for those who want an early dinner. Apparently, even Spanish families with children do and although I often praise children friendly restaurants, this time we got a bit too much action. Our children are usually calm when we go out, but now we know that it only takes a few other children to trigger their energy.

Our oldest son likes experimenting with things and usually we even encourage it, but we were not at all that proud when, halfway through the main course, he managed to switch of all the lights in the outdoor area just by screwing a bit on one of the colourful lamps covering the wall. Since the lights could not be made to work again, we were lucky that that there were some back-up lamps to switch on so that we and the other guests could finish our meals. Beverly Hills is different and special, so we will come back, but only when we feel sure that the staff will not recognize us any longer.

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