Appel – Simple Pleasure

Newly opened, Appel, is a café/restaurant/music-literature venue almost hidden in its perfect location along the Spaarne River in Haarlem Centrum. This lovely space has been outfitted with comfortable furniture; quirky posters and art pieces (for sale); large colourful fish lights – and an extremely welcoming kids space!!

Unfortunately occupied during our visit, we could not review the function room at the back of the building. This room is reportedly light and well-suited to both meetings and social functions.

Over a Tuesday ladies lunch, we experienced warm, friendly service. The menu contained most items found on a traditional Dutch lunch menu – but were served with more of a farm-style, organic taste and look to them. Delicious belly fillers – with two glasses of wine and one coffee came to a total of €19.

Appel is destined to be a repeat venue for me. Similarly, I suspect sociable parents with younger kids will frequent Appel due to the inclusion of the kid space, kid menu, and the added room to manoeuvre prams about.

A good addition to the growing Spaarne café + restaurant scene, with the added bonus of offering a busy program of art and cultural events to entertain during evening and weekends.  http://www.brasserieappel.nl/

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ML – the taste of Art.

This weekend included a ‘date night’, which would sound scary if it wasn’t for the fact that our combined ages is getting very close to 100. My husband, never a great bargain hunter, announced that he had found an amazing deal at a Michelin star restaurant in Haarlem Centrum – and that we would be dining way above our usual comfort zone.

ML restaurant is indeed a beautiful restaurant. Lushly decorated, spacious, with correct consideration given to both lighting and sound. The staff wear crisp white shirts, grey jackets, dark jeans and slick hairstyles. They are professional, knowledgeable – without being intrusive.

The deal was a five course tasting menu with matching wines. Unfortunately I am unable to detail the food served on perhaps ten plates (per person). Each plate was edged with beautiful food decorations – all aesthetically delightful, yet too delicate and small to satisfy the tastebuds.  For example one of the tasting plates exhibited tiny cucumber pieces, artfully cut in different shapes. Simple and still providing the regular taste of cucumber. The wines matched the food – an easy task due to the lack of strong flavours.

Although I appreciate fine dining, I still want to walk away with “delicious” being foremost on the list of words I use to describe the experience. Especially at €220 (tip included) for two people. Many people will disagree with this review. Yet I stand by my opinion that the most spectacular art belongs in galleries, luscious food in restaurants, and good service in both.

Overall, the meal was more an exhibition than a gustatory experience.  http://www.restaurant-ml.nl/index.php/en/

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Gandhi – Haarlem’s Oldest and Tastiest Indian Restaurant

Hesitant to eat Indian food in the Netherlands following eight less than average eating experiences at various Indian restaurants in Haarlem and Amsterdam, the decision to go to Gandhi was swayed by an offer from Socialdeal.nl – a three course meal for €15.
Hence, last Saturday night a table for four people at Haarlem’s oldest Indian restaurant (1986) was reserved – and we ventured in with low culinary expectations. The restaurant is ‘old-style’ with nothing fancy except the lighting. There are two floors, both tightly spaced, with the kitchen visible in the basement. Although Saturday evening, there was only one inexperienced waitress working the tables until around 9pm. She was struggling and the wait was a little too long. Later when the owner arrived, the table service improved considerably.

FOOD: As part of the voucher, all dishes on the menu were available, although king prawns and some lamb dishes cost extra.

Entrees

Vegetable Samosa: spicy dense filling inside with crisp pastry outside.
Onion Bhajee: very orange colour but the taste was good.
Punjabi Fish Pakora: Soft, delicious fish pieces – spiced and fried just right.
Sadhu Mixed Starter Plate: vegetarian mix of alu paneer tikki, piaz bhajee, samosa, and bengan pakora.

Mains: came with rice and a complimentary vegetable curry. We also ordered chapati, plain naan bread and raita.

Lamb Jahlfrezi: nice blend of flavours to accompany the lamb.
Fish Vindaloo: Spicy hot – causing hiccups!
Fish Madras: Delicious, creamy curry sauce with tasty pieces of fish.
Saag Paneer: An indian classic dish – well done.

Dessert:
Not too many choices – basically icecream or rice pudding. Three orders of pistachio icecream and one rice pudding. Not a highlight, but a simple end to the meal.

Overall:
Satisfying meal that exceeded expectations. The dishes were well spiced, cooked and the ingredients were fresh. Service improved during the night. The restaurant also offers a full drink menu. Total cost for four people: €105 (€60 Social deal vouchers for four people and the remainder for drinks/naan/tips).
Gandhi Restaurant has become my favourite Indian restaurant in Haarlem!!!  http://gandhihaarlem.nl/

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