A Night Out Further Afield: JURASSIC 5 at Paradiso in Amsterdam

Saturday 28 July, 2014 – Jurassic Five performed at Paradiso in Amsterdam.  The concert marked their 20year anniversary and had been sold out weeks beforehand.  It was a feel-good, hip-hopping, amazing performance that had 1500patrons dancing and hand waving from the first beat until the band members sat on the edge of the stage to give autographs.

Paradiso is situated close to Leidesplein.  The main hall is flanked by two levels of balcony space.  Leadlight windows give a strange glow to the stage that sits below them, especially during the longer summer days.  Drink selection and prices are average.  Toilets are annoyingly all the way in the basement.  In true scab-style, entrance to the Paradiso involves becoming a member at a cost of EUR3.50 per person, on top of the ticket price.  This will come as shock to new punters, although the good news is that paying the fee makes gives you a whole months membership!!  http://www.paradiso.nl/

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De Kale Pater

Tucked away in a funky side street, De Kale Pater is a restaurant that I have walked past many times, yet didn’t know existed.  The statue of a bald waiter does not clearly identify this venue as having a capability of feeding 130 guests within the building and in the outside garden area.  Hence, a Social Deal Coupon for a four course meal for €18.75 per person was a dining out opportunity not to be missed.

ENVIRONMENT:

This is a grill restaurant with a Middle Ages/religious theme.  There are statues and paintings of saints – and an attempt has been made to convey the period via the lighting and the wooden tables.  For me, the environment didn’t work.

MENU: The Social Deal offer was limited to a specific menu – providing three choices in entrée, mains and dessert – with the fourth course being a bowl of bouillon soup.  The choices were limited and standard fare for dutch restaurants in this price category – so much so, that we both choose the same courses.

Entrée:

Smoked trout salad:  trout was delicious, salad average.  Complimentary bread rolls.

Soup:

Bouillon soup with a small pieces of beef and vegetables:  Why?

Mains:

Sea bass served on a bed of mixed vegetables, with accompanying bowl of chips, small bowl curried apple salad – and three bowls of various coloured sauces.  Fish and vegetables were well cooked and spiced.  Sauces came straight from the bottle.   Chips – just like IKEA.

Dessert:

Crème Brulee with cassis sorbet and whipped crème:  Good combination.  Crème brulee was tasty, but came obviously prepared and served from the fridge.

Wine:  the house wines are Chilean, drinkable and just under €20 per bottle.  Good selection of beers.

SERVICE:  Although the restaurant was full, the waiting staff remained friendly and professional.

Overall:  At the price of the coupon – this was an excellent deal.  Nothing special, but adequate.  Chips and bottled sauces placed the meal back in the pub/bistro category.  For a large group of people, De Kale Pater would be a good choice.  http://www.kalepater.nl/

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Cafe at the Dolhuys Museum

My favourite place to hang out in Haarlem is the Dolhuys Café, tucked in behind the Dolhuys Museum (National Museum for Psychiatry) on Schotersingel.   In the three years I have been haunting this café, there have been many changes:  renovations, management, staff, hours, menus.  The current version works well for me.

Environment:

Light, airy space with lots of windows and pale-coloured wood, and  inoffensive background music.  The area facing the outside of the building is covered almost completely by glass – giving the feeling of sitting in an english conservatory.  A small children’s area suitably occupies most kids for the length of time it takes to sip a coffee at a relaxed pace.  The appearance of sunshine means that most patrons can be found sitting under the trees that partially cover the terrace yet still allow for suntans.  

Menu:

In its current state, the menu is restricted to lunch foods, sandwiches and soups, and coffee accompaniments like Dutch appeltaart and muffins.  While very acceptable, the food is not the reason to come to the Dolhuys café.  Instead come in the late afternoon with a book or a friend, order a tea, or better still, a glass of wine – and relax.

The staff are relaxed to the point of sometimes taking ages to serve you  – but this is forgivable and causes little stress.  With free wifi, freelancers (hand up) often set up and work for an hour or two without being asked to move on.  

It is all very easy.  And lovely.

Open:  Tuesday-Friday 10-5, Saturday-Sunday 11-5.  Special events listed on website:  http://www.hetdolhuys.nl/bezoeker/museumcafe

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La Foule – who would have guessed???

Camouflaged by an ugly carpark on the opposite side of the street,  french restaurant La Foule (translation:  the crowd)  is a hidden gem.  Located at de Haasstraat 14, 2011 DW Haarlem, this french bistro style restaurant offers both terrace and inside sitting options. If catching some sunlight is not your top priority, sit inside, immerse yourself in the charm and music indicative of this delightful restaurant.    We visited La Foule as a party of four on 17 May 2014 enjoying an IENS restaurant week deal – or a  3-course meal for €30 per person.  All items on the menu were available without restrictions or supplementary payments for coupon holders.

ENVIRONMENT

Disregarding the unfortunate view of the car park, the interior of the restaurant is decorated with large old mirrors, old posters, dark wood and lead light glass.  The effect is Parisian art deco. Tables are adequate spaced so that noise is not a problem.  Table decorations are simple, yet elegant.  Lighting is conducive to the setting, but bright enough to examine the food being served.

FOOD

Entrées:

Pate de fois with toasted brioche – house made and delicious.

Bouillabaisse- great taste and plenty of seafood.

Coquille St Jacques au gratin:  the definite winner!  Beautifully presented and perfectly cooked.

Mains:

Gigot d’agneau:  roasted succulent lamb.

Homard rotie avec sauce béarnaise:  half a lobster served with baby potatoes, spinach and béarnaise sauce.  Always difficult to eat, and this half was a little too small to make the effort worthwhile.

Desserts:

Crème Brulee:  perhaps the best cream brulee ever, and this is a longtime favourite!

Crepe Suzette:  classic style, smooth blend of flavors, great presentation

Plateau de Fromage:  some new and classic choices.  Good portions and matching accompaniments.

Wine:

Les Palisses Blanc – the house white.  22.75euro per liter carafe.

Service:  Professional, polite, knowledgeable and warm.

Overall:  Fantastic dining experience.  Delicious food, beautifully presented by skilled staff in an delightful environment (inside at least!) Main meals average around €18.  Excellent value, even without a coupon.  La Foule is open for lunch thurs-sat, and dinner wed-sun.

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CHOCOASE – great venue, food lacking, terrible name.

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.

ENVIRONMENT:

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.

FOOD:

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.

EATING EXPERIENCE

Entrees tasted:

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.

Mains:

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.

Dessert:

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.

Wine:

The house white was a Spanish wine – priced at €19.50, and an easy drop.

Overall Impression:

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

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