Barends: So much more than Fish & Chips!!

Opened in 2011, Barends Restaurant is popular with seafood lovers. Last weekend during our second visit to Barends, we again indulged in the warmth of this lovely restaurant while being treated to delicious food.barends

prawnsCoquilles (Scallops): three scallops each served on their own shell and prepared to achieve a unique taste sensation. Amazing.
Gambas (Prawns): Large prawns cooked in a thai sweet chilli sauce and served in between the folds of a pappadum. The freshness of the prawns was obvious, althougth something (perhaps fresh herbs) was missing from the sauce. Remained pleasing in taste and presentation.

Mains: served with separate bowls of salad and fries.
Zeewolf (Sea Wolf, Catfish): succulent generous portion of fish topped with an olive and tuna tapenade. Good combination of flavors. Fish cooked perfectly.
Trio van Vis: fillets of Red Poon (snapper), Dorade (bream) and Sea Bass. The taste of the individual fillets apparent and appreciated. One fillet contained bones to attest to its freshness and slow down the pace of dining.mains

Crème Brulee: a personal favourite – of high standard.
Lemon Quark Tart: decorated with dark chocolate dribbles and providing a lovely end to the meal.


Overall: The restaurant is spacious, allowing diners to converse easily. Staff members successfully met that difficult point of being professional, yet knowledgeable and friendly. The food looked and tasted fantastic – and our choice of a french bottle of sauvignon blanc (€19.50) smoothly accompanied the meal. After dessert we were treated to tasty local digestives (from Ijmuiden). Unbelievably, the evening was covered by a Social Deal arrangement – €17 per person for a three-course meal with for unlimited choices from the menu.
Voucher or not – this was a wonderful Haarlem dining experience.


Bij Tholen: the hassle of being served.

About a year ago, we visited Bij Tholen and really enjoyed their three course wine pairing menu that had been offered as a Groupon deal. The food, wine and service were all of a standard that demanded a return visit.
Unfortunately our return visit was a disappointment.
Saturday night – and the restaurant was about 75% full. Two staff members were waiting tables, which for the size of this restaurant should have been sufficient for decent service. It wasn’t. It was almost an hour that we waited to place our order – which without complimentary bread, was too long.

Sea bass fillets served on a spiced couscous brickette, with honey sweetened Asian vegetables. Good combination. Fish and vegetables cooked well, although sweetness of the vegetables distracted from the fish.
Risotto with crab, peas and baby tomatoes. Generous pieces of crab in this acceptable potion of the Italian creamed rice dish.

The atmosphere in Bij Tholen is more of that of a café than a restaurant. They have an extensive wine list and the menu offers wine pairing suggestions to all the dishes. The food looks and tastes good. Main meals average about €18, and the house wine is an acceptable drop at €18.75 per bottle.
Unfortunately we will not be returning or recommending Bij Tholen after this last visit, as service was terrible and ruined the dining experience.