The Wolfhound: A family walks into a bar…

Sunday night and a family dinner at The Wolfhound Irish Bar and Restaurant to celebrate the end of the school holidays and the return to school!!  For the uninitiated, The Wolfhound can be found at Riviervismarkt 9, on the northside of Haarlem’s Grote Markt. Our table was located in the stone and wood basement, reminiscent of places recently visited in rural Ireland.  Cosy and almost empty at 6.30pm on a Sunday, yet a terrible noise factor due to speakers being too close to the table. Staff were friendly and helpful.

FOOD:
The menu is heavy on meat.  This pleased the three male family members who instantly decided to order the ribs. Less choices for the vegetarian or health conscious diner – but then quinoa in an Irish pub would have been somewhat suspicious.
RIBS:  marinated in cola and honey.  Large portions, sweet, succulent and delicious.  Served with a side plate of fries and garlic sauce.  ribs
SCAMPI:  Mmm!  Tasty battered scampi served on a bed of fries and accompanied by garlic +chilli mayonnaise.
CHICKEN BURGER:  Flavoursome chicken fillet cooked in a chilli+oregano+paprika batter, served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle and garlic sauce.  A cup of fries and small tube of garlic sauce completed the meal.
VEGETABLE BURGER:  This appetising burger  was made of chickpeas, kidney beans and goat cheese.  Accompaniments were the same as with Chicken Burger.  Fries were replaced with sweet potato fries for an additional €1.

SUMMARY:  Tasty heart-stopping food, well-presented, great service, loud but comfortable venue.  Total bill:  €106 including five bottles of soda water and one large Murphy’s beer (2x mixed bread plates and jug of water free).  From a prior visit to The Wolfhound, I can also attest to the fact that the beer on tap is excellent!

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Effen Grijs – Wow!

This week we visited Effen Grijs – as part of the AH restaurant deal arrangement (pay for one three course meal and the second is gratis). Although asked what we did not want to eat, we were not given a menu and left to the whims of the chef. Thank God. The meal was absolutely beautiful!! Entree was thin slices of swordfish topped with caviar, capers,chervil and samphire. Main meal was a divine slice of slow roasted pork with a red endive mix salad. Dessert was based on the summer taste of peaches, complimented by yogurt, ice-cream and compote. The chef is an artist. The serving staff are professional. The interior is simply elegant. Total cost including a bottle of Spanish tempranillo, two glasses of prosecco (yes we were celebrating!), two three course meals (one gratis but with a€5 surcharge for the cheese platter instead of the dessert) = €70. Highly recommended!!

To Amuse – for that Special Treat

A fancy occasion, my birthday, needed a fancy restaurant and so on Friday evening we found ourselves being welcomed at To Amuse (http://www.toamuse.nl/). The restaurant is housed in the beautiful art deco building, previously home to the Douwe Egberts café and store.
Our table was located on the upper floor, which enjoys a little more space than the bustling ground floor. Décor is elegant with the lead lighting in the front windows adding a special warmth to the atmosphere.
Service is friendly, polite and professional. We were welcomed at the front door, escorted to our table and offered an aperitif – a smooth service that continued to meet our exp

FOOD
To Amuse offers the choice of a daily four course set menu (€39.50), or, an extensive selection of sharing plates (think tapas), main meals (entrée size), desserts – from which you can pick and choose depending on the size of your appetite. We decided to experiment.

to amuse

Photo: maakelaarhaarlemcentrum

Sharing Moments:
Grilled Vegetables with Citrus Dressing (€7.50): deliciously roasted pieces of parsnip, beetroot, portabello mushroom, red pepper, pumpkin, zucchini, carrot and eggplant dressed with slight lemony sauce.
Croquetas Caseras (€3.95): mini croquettes filled with manchego cheese and pata negra (spanish ham) and chicken. Tasty morsels.

Main Meals:
Couquille Saint Jacques (€15): two scallops + two sweet potato beignets served with steamed spinach and a pumpkin cardamon sauce. Heavenly in the mouth – but a disappointingly tiny serve!
Brill fillet (€12.50): with potato rosti pancake, cheese and roasted tomatoes softened in a butter sauce. Wonderful combination of flavors with the fish perfectly cooked.

Still hungry we ordered two further Sharing Plates:
Tears Spareribs Pata Negra Varken (€9.50): three boneless spare rib slices marinated in the house bbq sauce. Tender treats.
Crispy Flatbread (€4): long slice of flat bread adorned with tomato and garlic butter. Crispy accompaniment to the ribs.

OVERALL
Our total bill came to €97.85 and included a bottle of South African Sauvignon Blanc (€25) and a bottle of water (€5).
Our evening at To Amuse was a lush experience. The service, food and wine were all excellent. Admittedly expensive, yet I have no hesitations in recommending To Amuse for that special lunch or dinner occasion.

Zap Thai – spicy stuff in the burbs

Feeling the need for something spicy without the hassle of dressing up to look for a free table in Haarlem Centrum on a Saturday evening, we headed to Kleverpark and Zap Thai, a restaurant that offers dine-in, take-out and home-delivered thai food.The restaurant belongs to a husband-wife (Dutch-Thai) team. Their hope is to become an integral member of the local neighbourhood – like a neighbourhood meeting place, albeit with tasty food to attract a local following.

FOOD
Complimentary Cassave Kroepoek arrived at the table as soon as we were seated. We ordered a bottle of decent sauvignon blanc (€20.50) – and made our selection from the extensive menu.
Yam Woen Sen: for entrée we split a noodle salad comprised of a mix of seafood, chicken, rice noodles, herbs and salad decoration. The seafood tasted fresh and was aptly spiced by the herbs and chillies.
Talay Phad Nam Prik Pao: Seafood stir-fried with onion and sambal. Delicious, generous helping of seafood and vegetables. Able to distinguish all flavors. Attractive dish.
Ped Phad Khing: Duck stir-fried with ginger and vegetables. Lots of soft duck pieces complimented by the ginger in this lovely dish.zap1

SUMMARY
The restaurant interior is simple: green, wooden tables and chairs, and walls decorated with Thai images. When we arrived the restaurant was empty, but the kitchen was obviously busy with home delivery orders. The service was friendly and professional. The food was spicy as requested; fresh and delicious. Total bill including rice and wine: €62.
Zap Thai is a worthy addition to the list of Haarlem Asian restaurant – and will hopefully become an established eating venue in Kleverpark. http://www.zapthai.nl/

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The Green Papaya

I love Thai food – and have visited the other three Thai restaurants in Central Haarlem regularly over the past few years. For some reason, Green Papaya never made it onto this list.   This will now be rectified.
So Thursday evening we visited the Green Papaya without a reservation. The restaurant, well-lit and decorated with Thai holiday memorabilia, was less than half full when we arrived at 8pm. It filled with regulars a little later in the evening.
Staff were friendly, polite and appropriately attentive.

FOOD
Entrée
Grilled spareribs (6) served with sweet chilli sauce and cucumber. Simple and tasty without being oily. Could have used more salad decorations.

Mains
Stuffed tofu in a green curry sauce with bamboo and basil – Delicious, rich flavour, although adding more coriander would have given the dish added colour.
Prawn and squid stirfry with chilli, onion, stringbeans – fresh, great combination of flavours and heat.

Overall: Reminiscent of eating in a local restaurant in Phuket. For two people including two Singha beers and a bottle of white wine, one entrée and two main meals with steamed rice, bill came to €56. Fine thai home-cooking in a relaxed setting. http://www.greenpapaya.nl/

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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

FOOD
Entrées:
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

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

dessert

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.  http://restaurantbarend.nl/