Cups and Leafs – Tea for Two

logo_websiteLunch on a rainy summer Monday was a good reason to visit Cups and Leafs – located on the corner of Zijlstraat and Gedempte Oude Gracht in Haarlem’s main central shopping area. For myself and my lunch partner, this was our first time to Cups and Leafs, which opened for about six months.

The tea house/café interior is well-light, spacious and tastefully decorated with tea memorabilia of an Asian influence – credited to joint owner and tea expert Xiao who originates from China and a strong culture of tea drinkers. I arrived a few minutes early and was welcomed by Xiao with a tiny cup of tea. Unfortunately my lunch partner missed this lovely welcome ritual as she arrived at the same moment that a small group of new customers entered the café.

FOOD: The menu is expansive offering breakfast, wraps, salads, sandwiches, cheese-tea combinations, dim sum items (mainly dumplings), muffins, cakes, coffees and a plethora of black, white/yellow, oolong, green, herbal, flowered, flavoured, iced, frothed – and traditional teas seeped to strict guidelines that enhance the individual characteristics of each tea.Cups and Leafs

I chose a fresh lemon and ginger tea, more of a warm drink without actually tea, which was refreshing and matched the weather perfectly. I opted for the Japanese bbq beef wrap with beef, mixed salad, coriander, red peppers, black sesame seeds and a sauce. Although it didn’t remind me of any Japanese flavours, it was fresh and tasty.

My adventurous friend decided to try the blended chocolate black tea, presented to look like a chocolate sundae complete with whipped cream. To eat, she enjoyed a chicken bacon avocado multigrain roll – minus the bacon as it was unavailable at the time of ordering, and a side order of dim sum dumplings. She reported being happy with her choices and that she enjoyed her lunch.

SUMMARY: Great space, friendly but somewhat slow service, a wide menu of fresh foods with an Asian slant making Cups and Leafs a special venue to enjoy breakfast, lunch or a pick up cup of exotic tea with something sweet, dimsum morsels or cheese. Total bill: €26.

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The Roast Chicken Bar & Egg Store

It is Mother’s Day and the family decide that they should take me to dinner to celebrate. It is a gorgeous 24 degree, sunny evening and many Haarlem families seem to have the same idea. Luck is on our side – as we find an available outside table at The Roast Chicken Bar on the Turfmarkt. From here we can enjoy the activities happening on the Spaarne River, with the background sounds of the girl duo performing at the restaurant.RCB

So to clear things up. During the day, this old garage venue is The Egg Store – specialising in egg dishes obviously. In the evenings the eggs disappear and the venue becomes The Roast Chicken Bar with grilled, half or whole, chickens served with a variety of side dishes. The Roast Chicken Bar also offers a very impressive variety of g&t menu, which I will be making return visits to rate!!

The venue is hipster, the servers are young, friendly and know how to make the customers happy, and the food smells delicious. For five people (including an 8yr old) – we devoured one whole grilled chicken (€19) with sides of fries, coleslaw, bread, corn and pineapple-mustard MENUcompote. We needed to ask for plates, as most of the customers where happy to just eat from the serving dishes. It is that kind of relaxed, almost picnic-in-a-restaurant, kind of place.   The chicken was tasty, the coleslaw pink from the beets, the fries moorish, and the bread a little hard.

Our total bill came to €45 – which included five non-alcoholic drinks.
Recommended as a fun eating place to go with a group of friends or the family. chicken

Restaurant Constantinopel: Turkish Delights

rest1An empty fridge on a Friday night saw us heading out in search of a tasty meal within walking distance, yet away from the Grote Markt and Haarlem’s restaurant patch. We decided on Restaurant Constantinopel located just north of the train station on a busy corner in the Frans Hal neighbourhood.
The restaurant has the capacity to comfortably seat 24 guests, with extra seating available on the footpath. There is a lovely spacious feel, with enough distance between tables to allow for conversations. Decorations and lighting add color and an exotic touch to the interior. The menu is vast, including vegetarian and child meal options. Friendly knowledgeable service from staff.

FOOD

Having witnessed the main meals that were delivered to our fellow diners, we opted to forego the entrees and to restrict our order to main dishes, with the later option of dessert. We ordered a bottle of Angora Wit wine (€20) and were served a complimentary appetizer of tasting dips and toasted Turkish slices.
Talas Kuzu (€18): lamb slices and green leaf vegetables wrapped in pastry, decorated with a grilled sweet paprika. The lamb slices were succulent and perfectly matched by the vegetables. The separately served gravy sauce had a tomato, cream base and was filled with mushrooms. Accompaniments included a grilled potato and tomato slice, and a homemade tomato salsa (Turkish style) and light tahini sauce.
Cupra Baligi (€18.50): Fillet of Sea Bream (dorade) lightly coated with olive oil, dill and garlic and served on a bed of spinach, with a separate dish of the same mushroom gravy on the side, grilled sweet paprika and accompaniments. Beautifully presented. Perfectly cooked fish fillet – with the fresh taste complimented by the fresh herbs.
The main meals were served with bowls of rice + spiced bulghar wheat, and a green salad decorated with pomegranate seeds.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I really enjoyed this meal. The dishes were generous and beautifully presented. The tastes were fresh and the combination of flavors worked to satisfy the palate. The total bill: €56.50. This eating experience bought back fond memories of holidays in Turkey. We walked home agreeing to plan a return visit to Istanbul and to Restaurant Constantipol.

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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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