As my last review for the Haarlem Review Board, I decided that I needed to cross off the often recommended – Het Pakhuis . This restaurant was nominated by numerous Haarlem locals when I asked for a good, affordable place to eat with the family. As I live closer to Bruxelles, I already had a restaurant that met these criteria.
Friday night and we have a table booked for 7pm at Het Pakhuis. The restaurant is located in Gravinnesteeg, hence not filled with wandering tourists. The interior is spacious compared to most Haarlem restaurants, yet some tables seem to be too close (gezellig overload) to their neighbouring table. Serving staff look professional, are capable and welcoming.
Nachos (€7.50) with pulled pork – served hot with a side dish of guacamole, sour cream and salsa. Acceptable Mexican classic needing more topping to avoid the half full bowl of dry corn chips.
Smoked Duck (€7.50) with asparagus, avocado and a dressing of pomegranate seeds and chestnuts. Nice taste but would have liked more than one asparagus spear.
Moroccan Lamb Stew (€13.50) with Merguez Sausage, chickpeas and couscous. Nice combination of flavours compliments the tender lamb pieces.
Salad with smoked salmon roulades and prawns (€13.50). Very light on the prawns and heavy on the cream cheese filling – yet balanced by the green salad and light dressing.
Three balls of sorbet (€5.50) (raspberry, lemon, mango) served with fresh fruit in a glass jar.
Our total bill including a bottle of house rose, glass of Albarino, and a limoncello came to €72. Complimentary bottles of water were served throughout the evening. Accompaniments of bread and fries were served with the meal. The service was fast and efficient and the staff were friendly. The food wasn’t a gastronomic triumph, but it was honest. The atmosphere of Het Pakhuis was good. We will return to this restaurant with the larger family before leaving Haarlem in a few weeks.
Opened recently Raecks Wijnbar was a keenly anticipated addition to the many beer venues in the surrounding two streets. Previously finding a glass of decent wine was difficult unless you were prepared to walk that extra 100metres to the Grote Markt.
The Raecks Wijnbar concept is self-service. Customers are given a card that requires them to add credit in €10 minimum increments, before allowing open selection to the wine dispenser. The selection choices are available in three sizes: taster, half and full glass sizes. The choice of wines is fantastically broad with wines of all sorts coming from new and renowned wine growing regions. Undoubtedly something to please every wine palate and almost every budget.
So, after an afternoon spent with a group of close friends talking and sipping delicious wines with the sunshine warming us through the large windows – we came to the following conclusions. Wonderful selection of wines; self-service idea means that you end up paying or drinking more to use the money you have put on the card (human nature hates to lose such a challenge); and that the addition of gratis nibbles and carafes of water would be a welcoming gesture. Overall, a good addition to the neighbourhood.
This weekend we used the last of our AH restaurant actions and ventured to the Indischebuurt to go local. Flores is a small, unassuming restaurant located in one of the side streets close to the end of the Cronjestraat shopping district. The interior is simply decorated, without tablecloths or fancy artwork, yet somehow feels welcoming to guests. The all-male wait staff seemed relaxed, yet adequately managed to met our needs.
The AH menu was disappointing. Two choices for entrée, for main meal and for dessert – for a price of €34.50 per person. Based on our new knowledge, I recommend giving the deal a miss and ordering from the wider selection available on the normal menu.
We both decided to order the carpaccio – which was tasty and generously decorated with pesto, parmesan slivers and pine-nuts. Mains:
Salmon with a pesto coating. My first complaint is that even before the meal was served, the smell of the fish coming out of the kitchen was obvious. The salmon was not fresh, the pesto coat was dull, and the aroma was a little nauseating.
Beefsteak slices covered with a brown sauce and lightly decorated with green vegetables. Like cafeteria food, this dish was edible but suspicious due to being camouflaged by the gravy.
Crème Caramel – one of my favourites, this dessert met my expectations. Accompanied by a scoop of cinnamon ice-cream and a brandy snap.
Cheesecake served with blue berries, cream, ice-cream and a brandysnap. A well-presented plate with a lovely combination of flavors.
Overall the experience was satisfactory, although the old salmon was a huge disappointment especially on a day when fresh fish is available on the local market. The total bill included a 2 glasses + one bottle of South African wine and with a saving of €34.50 from the AH deal came to €68.