Restaurant Babbels in Haarlem’s Lange Veerstraat opened its doors 20 years ago. It is a classic Dutch space: dark, with lots of wood, stained glass, murals and lighting. Over the years many people have entered and enjoyed their eating experience at Babbels. I was not one of those people.
The evening started with a warm welcome from a waiter. A common error in Haarlem restaurants, he asked for our drink orders before supplying the drink menu. When asked about the evenings’ specials, he no knowledge even though they were written above the kitchen window, listed on the menu, and on a board outside the restaurant. We ordered only one entrée and one bread serving, and although this was confirmed at the time of ordering – we ended up with an unwanted second entrée and extra bread.
Entrée: Mushrooms in a cream, shallot and garlic sauce and served with grilled Old Amsterdam cheese: this dish should have been automatically served with bread to mop up the sauce and cut down on the salt.
Mains: Lamb fillets served with a rosemary and thyme sauce. Horrible. Absolutely no taste in the lamb – and no trace of either rosemary or thyme could be detected in my mouth. The lamb was covered in a glug of brown sauce. Grilled vegetables added colour to this disaster.
Stingray wing-fillet or Rogvleugel: ordering this dish was a mistake with translation. Sinewy triangle of fish served with a matching beige coloured ice-cream scoop of risotto – and grilled vegetables.
OVERALL: I really wanted to like this restaurant. Many people have spoken positively to me about their own experiences at Babbel. Maybe this was a bad night, maybe the staff were new – whatever, I won’t be going back. At €72 for two mains, two entrees + bread (one entrée and bread not ordered), + a bottle of wine – this was a terrible eating experience. http://www.babbels-haarlem.nl/