Situated in the beautiful old Droste chocolate factory along the edge of the Spaarne river, ChocOase (Max Euweplein 1, 2031 VP Haarlem) is in the perfect location for a relaxed evening of wining and dining away from the crowds that fill the Grote Markt looking for nourishment on a weekend night. In fact, the venue is a lovely place to sit and be lulled by the sound of the water – anytime. Having visited ChocOase about 18months earlier – for a hot chocolate on a cold winter morning, I was intrigued to return to taste the evening menu. The opportunity came with a winning bid on Vakantieveiling.nl – €28 for a three course meal for two people. Definitely a good deal, it seemed.
On a sunny Sunday evening, before a Monday public holiday, we ventured to the restaurant which was empty inside, but moderately busy in the outside areas. We were given the choice of table and opted for an outside table, which also turned out to be the smoking section of the restaurant. Within 10minutes, the solo waitress came to ask for our drink orders. She neglected to wipe clean the table, or give us the wine menu. It took another 20minutes for her to return to take our orders, and place cutlery on the still unwiped table. Sloppy.
There was a special menu available for customers with special restaurant deals – offering four entrees, four mains and two desserts. Supplementary payment was required for half the items on the menu. Okay everyone needs to make money – but it did give the feeling of being scammed. Admittedly all items on the special menu were also in the full-paying customer menu, with a couple of extra items available.
Carpaccio – nicely presented in traditional circle of red meat around the plate edges.
House smoked salmon: served with a spoonful of horseradish cream and two slices of toasted brown bread (?left over from the brunch trade). Ordinary.
Portobello mushroom with goat cheese, polenta, poached egg. Good combination of tastes, presentation good.
Cod fillet with mashed potato (rucola stampot), aspergus and bok choy. Nicely cooked and presented.
Cheese platter. Four small slices of the cheapest cheeses available at the local supermarket: brie, camembert, port salut, and another nondescript soft white cheese, served with fig jam, sultanas, rocket and thin slices of heavy rye bread. Disappointing choice of cheese and size of portions.
The house white was a Spanish wine – priced at €19.50, and an easy drop.
For €28 for two three-course meals, this was good value. To pay full price, estimated at around 80euros for two people with a bottle of wine – not great value, but consistent with local standards. Seemed to be a lack of pride and effort in the restaurant. Service missed the basics of providing a clean table and a drink menu on arrival, although waitress was friendly.
Visited 8 June 2014