Tuesday, March 15, 2016

L'Harmonie - a locals bistro in Nimes



As we steamroll through March (I know, I don't understand how this has happened either), I imagine that some of my more meticulous friends are already deep into planning their upcoming vacations to the South of France this summer. And as we all know, that means food research, yes? One can always sleep on a cot but when it comes to la belle cuisine française, well, that is not to be taken lightly.


So today, I am offering up an address for your consideration but with a hanging clause attached to it (which makes me remember the "hanging chads" which forces me to say, "People of Florida, for the love of all that you hold dear, get out and vote today!" But I digress...).


Now, if you are at all like me - and something tells me that if you are reading along at Lost in Arles, there is a strong possibility that might be the case - each opportunity to eat out is epic, worthy of scrolling through reviews both informed (the France board at Chowhound) and uninformed (Tripadvisor's restaurant selections for pretty much any touristy town in Provence).

 
But what if we take it down a notch for a second? What if you just want say, a pretty space that is lively, where you can munch on a reliable standby such as...


 ...magret de canard with leeks and a gratin on the side? You know, Old School Stylee. 


This is why I am suggesting L'Harmonie in Nimes (or Nîmes as it is normally written, to please my friend B who works for the city). Now, they call it a restaurant but it is definitely more of a bistro. Natasha runs the front of house and she doesn't moving stop for a minute. Because this joint is jumping. Why? It is a very good rapport qualité-prix or value for your money and I think that is especially true if you go for dinner, where the three-course menu (with ample choices) is set at 24 Euros, exactly as it is at lunch.

  
 When I went, it was for a noonday reservation, 12:30 to be precise. I arrived with my dear friend L at 12:35 and every seat in the house was already taken save for one table in the back (a petit bémol - she had reserved ahead and yet a table had not been set aside for us *eyebrow raise*) where we settled in while listening to the contented murmur of our fellow diners. 

While L chose the previously mentioned prix-fixe menu, I opted to go even more low-key with the menu du jour for well under 20 Euros. Honestly, I did not see an enormous difference in the presentation in our starters - both featuring gambas - although L's had a more upscale (and delicious) choice of encornet or squid as opposed to my mulet with ratatouille. Every single person at the surrounding tables had chosen the duck (perfectly cooked and brought out by the chef, no less) as I had and it was clear that many had come in just for that and a copious pour of red from the Languedoc before heading back to work. 

L'Harmonie is that kind of place, buzzy and light, perfect for a day when you are lost wandering through Nimes and hangry after paying to visit the Maison Carrée only to discover that it is, indeed, an empty if perfect Roman monument. Certainly, L's order of a demi-baba for dessert could calm the most frayed of nerves. We stayed on, savoring it with the last of our wine until the room emptied and we too moved on into the bright light of a perfectly provençal afternoon.


L'Harmonie
29 rue de la Madeleine
30000 Nîmes 
Open Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner
Reservations suggested
Tel.: +33 (0)4 66 67 21 91 
 

23 comments:

  1. Checking in from Florida. Yes, a drink, yes. Please.

    Later some French comfort food

    Years ago, I believe we ate there, or the previous establishment in that location, before going to the theatre in Nimes. Pleasant but foggy memories.

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    1. Joan, you very may well be right as L told me that it was previously a well-loved establishment and that the room hasn't changed. I think that it is near the theatre too. Makes me happy to think that our lines on The Map have crossed!

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    2. And who knows, possibly more than once! :)

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  2. Sounds wonderful Heather. We always love a great French bistro with a more traditional menu, as when it's done well, it's superb! And very hard to find in Sydney. Thanks for the recommendation. xxT

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    1. If it wouldn't entirely change your already wonderful life I would suggest: "Why don't you open one up?" But I know better. :)

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  3. I love the look of the place! Good vibes. I hate to admit it, I'm not a duck person, but I'm sure there would be something as good and beautiful to look at, as the duck! Next time in Nimes - oh, to a 'next time.'!!!

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    1. My Mom isn't a duck person either - I always want to say that I could change your mind about that but maybe not! And yes, of course to dream to a "next time"!

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  4. Maybe this year.....

    Thank you

    Ali

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    1. You are welcome, Ali! Although I can see you cobbling together a great lunch from the covered daily market, Les Halles, too.

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  5. We passed through Nîmes during the feria. So the town was a zoo. But it was lunch time, so we managed to find a place to park and then looked for someplace to eat nearby. We found a little bar emitting good smells. But when we stuck our heads inside, it looked like it was in the process of moving--boxes everywhere. The owner pushed some stuff aside to make room for a table for two, and there was somebody else eating alone at another mini-table. We were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into but it was DIVINE. This was a few years ago, but I still recall the subtle flavors of the lemony chicken.....my husband undoubtedly had beef....It's the nice thing in France that you can stumble into some little hole in the wall and eat superb food for cheap.
    -Taste of France: francetaste.wordpress.com

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    1. You caaaan. Sometimes. But you know as well as I that there is also a lot of crap out there these days, especially on the lower end of the budget scale. How fun to discover a find though - and during the Feria??? That is practically a miracle. ;)

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  6. Hahahahaaa!! Yes, there are some aspects of Nîmes that CAN make you "Hangry", for sure. Thanks for the great recommendation...we are always looking for a good place there! (I am counting the days...)

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    1. Our great friends M&B live in the center of Nîmes so I pretty much never eat out but yes, it is an unusual town, right? Did you see my comment to Ali? Les Halles would be much more your speed!

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    2. We know les Halles well...I drool my way through there!

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  7. I couldn’t help but be attracted to the two plates with shrimp. And if I add your wonderful admiration for the place and being able to linger longer while sipping wine it is a place to be.

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    1. It is just a simple place, Edgar, nothing fancy but I had a really nice time with my friend there so it was a good day.

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  8. Why has this not occurred to me before - food writer?? I know, your love of food and your exquisite photos and prose are just hobbies - OR ARE THEY? Just sayin! This place looks lovely and makes all of us not in proximity to sweet Provence cafes whimper. But maybe there are similar places in my own back yard?? I'll take a gander...

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    1. Well, I uuuused to be a professional writer Sister although rarely about food. Now THAT is a good gig!

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  9. It looks like a lovely, comfortable room in which to enjoy very nice food. Make that, gorgeous food.
    It seems the good people of Florida heeded your message yesterday.

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    1. I didn't know that I had that kind of power, Emm! ;)
      have a good weekend...

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  10. It's late in the evening and your photos and writing have me craving a plate of those gambas! So deliciously presented.

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    1. I would have that gambas for breakfast, Lorrie!

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