De Ark – Book your place.

Coming across a ridiculously cheap 3 course meal arrangement on SocialDeal for De Ark – I decided that it was time to try this inner-city institution loved by Haarlem’s inner city dwellers. The deal incorporated an unlimited choice from the extensive menu for only €16.75. Definitely too good to pass up.

The restaurant is situated in a tiny street close to the Frans Hals Museum. From outside it appears limited to the bar and a few tables, yet the restaurant spans three rooms over the top two floors of the building. It is old style – think lots of wood and large dubious paintings.de ark 3

FOOD:

Entrees:

Onion Soup – a thicker and sweeter version of this french classic served in small ceramic bowl.

Scampis – six prawns cooked in a garlic cream sauce, served with bread. Tasty and rich in flavour.

Mains: both main meals were served with salad, french fries and sauces.

de ark2Salmon Fillet served with rocket, pine nuts and slivers of parmesan cheese. Average.

Spare Ribs- a choice of plain or spicy. Three substantial racks marinated in a sambal sauce to produce a spicy, but tasty ping. Moorish – as ribs tend to be.

Desserts:

Tarte Tatin – served warm with vanilla ice-cream. Delicious mix of apple, cinnamon and melting ice-cream.

Cheese Plate: three Dutch cheeses on offer, served with fig bread, basilico sauce, and berry confit. Lovely way to end the meal.

Overall: “Gezellig”. Service was friendly and suitable for a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant. Food was satisfying and of an acceptable standard – so much so that we are planning to revisit with a larger group. Total cost: €33.50 for 2x 3 course meals + €19.95 for a bottle of Spanish temparillo + free drinking water.de ark

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The Golden Bull: Grab it by the horns!

bullThe idea of going to a steak restaurant in the Netherlands is not something I would usually agree to. Although there are plenty of Dutch cows, the local cuisine does not comprehend ‘beef’ – in any format except as mince meat. So on Friday night (with an IENS restaurant voucher in hand), we set off for an evening at The Golden Bull http://www.thegoldenbull.nl/ with low expectations.
The restaurant was warm, sparsely decorated, and very full. Tables are typically close enough that if feels correct to greet the people of the tables next to you. The staff were polite, knowledgeable and offered a professional waiting service not seen in most Haarlem restaurants.

FOOD

Entrees:
Lobster Soup: rich, creamy bisque with generous morsels of lobster.
Caprese Salad: fleshy round balls of mozzarella, with basil and tomato – dressed in a very decent balsalmico dressing.
Mains:
Argentinian Rib Eye steak (approx 230g) served with salad, and side dish of wide fries and mayonnaise. Steak as ordered was medium rare, soft and succulent – and oozing enough of its own juices to be authentic and delicious.
Dessert:golden bull
Crème Brulee: An art piece, that the waiter caramelized at the table. A beautiful end to the meal.

OVERALL
The bill for two people came to €96 (€30 Iens 3 course meal + a glass of prosecco + merlot malbec, €49 Iens 3 course with wine arrangement, bottle of sparkling water).

The food, wine and service at The Golden Bull is of a standard above what is usually on offer in Haarlem. The wine menu offers an adequate selection to accompany the dishes on the menu. The wine was decantered at the table with a suitable explanation. The service was impeccable. The food was delicious. What a delightful surprise!!

(NB borrowed photos)