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Grazing: First look: Harry Bissett's

Les bon temps...oh never mind

When a friend saw me perusing the website for Harry Bissett's (360 Pharr Road, 404-425-5995), he got excited. A Georgia Bulldogs fan, he's eaten several times at the Athens restaurant, which has been serving New Orleans-style cooking since 1986. He was happy to learn that a clone of the restaurant opened here a few months ago. "You'll enjoy it," he promised.

I've never eaten in the Athens restaurant, but if the restaurant there is anything like the one here, my friend has either lapsed into a culinary coma or was playing a practical joke on me. I've seriously not had such an unpleasant experience in a restaurant in memory.

I don't feel good about writing that this restaurant is a landmark in poor service and food, but the missteps were so bold and so obvious, we felt like we were watching very bad theater. The lead actor, the server, did such a miserable job that, halfway through the performance, I couldn't look at him without flushing with embarrassment, much less point out to him his most recent error.

There was no crowd to explain the incomprehensibly bad service. On a Monday evening, the restaurant had only a few tables of diners and maybe eight people at the bar. This is generic space in a generic mixed-use building in generic Buckhead. Mardi Gras beads and a few other visual clichés make you suspect les bon temps are not going to roulez too good.

Not long after we were seated, our server appeared at the table and asked for our drink orders. I ordered my usual tonic water. I thought it might be an oversight that I received a lukewarm glass of tonic that was about half-full, with no ice. But the server twice replaced the glass during the meal in identical fashion.