No Homage to Catalonia Here

In May 1809 Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr with 18,000 troops laid siege to Girona. After enduring disease, famine and privations, the city capitulated in December. Now L’Arcada is recreating for its customers that appalling experience.

As Saint-Cyr took aeons to establish his siege positions, so L’Arcada restaurant’s troops torment new arrivals by being busy elsewhere, though few tables are occupied. They remain empty as the reinforcement diners arrive, wait fruitlessly for orders, then retreat to elsewhere. We were weary but dogged. Our ordering was a staccato exchange of sullen canon. We explained ours would be a joint assault on the shared salad and pizza. Continue reading “No Homage to Catalonia Here”


Don’t Defy the Don

Why was Don Carlos so grumpy with us?
We moved from his choice of ludicrous
to a bigger table far from the door,
where tapas plates wouldn’t fall to the floor.
A small surface means crocks are not stable.
He should put a cake-stand on each table.

The food was fine, well, three out of four.
The chickpea with spinach got my top score,
while the omelette with prawns and garlic greens
was cooked just right. So too the sardines.
But the roast veg had been stewed unto death,
smothered with passata as its last breath.

Why were you so grumpy with Don Carlos?
Because at the time to say adios
a more expensive wine was on our bill
and ten percent that would go in his till.
It wasn’t pleasant arguing our case
with the Don who conceded with bad grace.

Casa Don Carlos four tapas

(Casa Don Carlos, Brighton)


Double Dosa

I’m not going back to Indian Summer!
You thought it excellent, she said. So why?
Coz my expectations would be too high.

Was it sharing just one two-course set meal?
Not with papads and pickles canapés,
then dosa, thali, gratis soups and sorbets.

You’re making it sound more french than indian.
Concerning food quality, you are right.
Not the staff – they were helpful and polite.

I said going back would be a mistake.
You thought it just as good, she said. So why?
Coz my literary pen has run dry.

How can I write an incisive review
on friendly staff and a pukka menu?

(Indian Summer, Brighton)

In the Heel of Italy

It was the last Friday before Christmas
and the lengthy lunch break was near ended,
when two travellers sought shelter and food.
But the Apulia boss shook his head,
“There is no room. We have nowhere for two.”
They were standing by an empty table.
“This one,” they said. “A group of three might come.”
+++The two sat down. Served with friendly banter
+++they watched diners depart and none enter.

The warm efficiency of the servers
could not elevate the dishes and drink
to the expectations from the prices.
The eighteen pound house wine was diddly-squat.
The six tiny bread rings, came with the wine,
but with only one down the mains were served.
+++The pasta pile in mud was a dismay
+++while the vegan pizza was just okay.

A sure sign of greed in a management
is when Service Charge is stuck on the bill.
Twelve and a half percent in this instance.
The Catholic church demanded only ten
and was offering eternal salvation
(T&C apply). All very feudal.
+++So, it was coins to the serfs who’d been nice
+++though Apulia’s bland fare has a grand price.

(Apulia, Long Lane, London EC1A)

Apulia’s tagliatelle antara plus a bread ring

Sting in Barracuda’s Tail

Yes, we accept the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda with a smile.
We sat. Waited. Waited some while.

Whitebait, cod, skate, all were tasty.
Watched, not served, by Barracuda,
the lax, basking … et cetera.

No, we don’t take the Gourmet card,
said Barracuda through her teeth.
We remonstrated with the thief.

A quarter off only the food,
half what the discount should have been.
Yet full S/C to strip you clean.

(Barracuda restaurant, Brighton Marina)

Ballade for the Birds

The San Antonio by Saint Paul’s Bay
is in Qawra, Malta, the George Cross isle.
It’s a comfortable, clean place to stay
where staff excel, adept – in a calm style –
always dealing with guests with a warm smile.
But evil mars a stay on this island,
one that Saint Francis would think the most vile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

The room’s the regular four-star cliché
with all one needs for a short domicile:
firm beds, rail and shelves to put clothes away,
constant hot shower, big basin. Meanwhile,
to sit on the toilet is knees to tile.
The balcony is a street masque grandstand,
and to fields, empty sky – which brings up bile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

The Kosy Bar is a big bland foyer
but the Buffet delights the gastrophile.
Watch a world stream by from Maroc Café;
take a shoreline stroll when you’re more agile.
Or a nearby cheap bus to get mobile:
Valletta, Mdina, Gozo at hand,
but expecting to hear birds is futile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.


Finding fault with this hotel is puerile
for staff, comfort, dining, locale are grand.
But the banned evil one has to revile.
They shoot migrants. Each year, thirty thousand.

Knees-to-tile toilet
Coach unloading starts a concert
Gueliz restaurant food, food, food

Poor Plumbing at Pricey Pub

To start water flowing out of the basin tap
hands need to be close to the sensor at the back.
To wash one’s hands they have to be in the water,
which stops when the hands move away from the sensor.
The sensor has a very short detection range
and an on-off reaction time that’s blinking fast.
While one hand is used to keep the water flowing,
the other can only be wetted in the stream.
And this country pub is too pseud to have a plug.
A solution can be found with toilet tissue,
draped over the tap’s arm in front of the sensor,
to be removed after both hands are soaped and rinsed.
+++At three-fifty for a tiny cup of coffee
+++they could afford a plumber for a remedy.

(Black Horse, Fulmer)