Olive Tree House

Saturday evening and Olive Tree House was fully booked.  Simply decorated with large photos of old olive trees decorating the walls, the restaurant has a warm ambiance that is enhanced by the delicious aromas coming from the open kitchen.  The staff were delightful – attentive, friendly and easily managing the needs of the guests.

FOOD
After sitting, we were brought a carafe of mint/lemon water and a selection of bread with a dipping bowl of olive oil/balsamic vinegar.scallops
Entrees:
Grilled Scallops (€14.50) – perfectly cooked scallops served on a marinated salad of carrot, mushroom and zucchini and decorated with truffle (grated and oil).  All entrée descriptions looked delicious, but for us this was the winner.  Beautifully presented and delectable.
Mains:
Fresh Fried Calamaris (€18.50) –  in a delicate batter and combined with marinated grilled peppers.  This delicious mix of octopus and peppers was dressed in a basil pesto and served on a potato cake.  Wonderful combination and the best calamari I have tasted ever.
Roasted Lamb (€21.50) – succulent pieces of lamb, accompanied by artichoke hearts and mixed in a sauce of lemon juice, greek yogurt and herbs.
Desserts:
Bougatsa(€7.50) – this traditional greek pastry decorated with cream and cinnamon.  Light and moreish.
Greek Yogurt (€8.00)and Figs cooked in brandy – delicious combination of flavours and a wonderful end to a meal.

SUMMARY:  An amazing dining experience with delicious food and great service. Our total bill with a beer9€3), a glass of wine(€4), a bottle of Mancura (house) wine (€20) and a AH voucher for a free 3-course meal came to €72.50 (without voucher: €105.50).

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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!!

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/

BastiJan – Absolutely Delicious!

Another Haarlem restaurant that I have walked by hundreds of times without being enticed to enter, usually because BastiJan seemed to be full. Last night we booked a table for two, enjoyed a delicious four-course chef’s surprise menu – and understood the popularity of this unassuming restaurant.
A nice touch to begin the evening was the welcome by staff as we entered the restaurant. Decorated in a quasi art-deco style, there is adequate spacing between tables to allow for conversations, and lighting conducive to making the space “gezellig”.

FOOD
The four course meal began with complimentary tasters: prawn cocktail, marinated olives and basket of warm bread with herb butter.
Entrée:   Slices of wild boar over a mound of bulghar, tomatoes, grapes and pecans. Absolutely delicious.
Soup: Cream of sweet potato – delightfully spicy, with sweet pea shoots and home-made flat bread adding to the presentation and taste.
Main: Swordfish steak with baked peppers, tomatoes, chickpeas, bokchoy. Generous portion of perfectly cooked fish – complimented by chosen vegetables.
Dessert: Plate from heaven: crème of tia maria; rich walnut brownie; rhubarb drippings; and cinnamon ice-cream with laced caramel cookie. Looked as amazing as it tasted.

Overall: Presentation and taste of all dishes was first-class. The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and professional. Opting for the chef’s surprise menu was the right decision: €29.50 per person (total bill= €87 including one bottle of wine, two glasses of bubbles). The chef did indeed surprise with his culinary talents. We look forward to indulging again in his talents on our next trip to BastiJan.  http://www.bastijan.nl/

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ML – the taste of Art.

This weekend included a ‘date night’, which would sound scary if it wasn’t for the fact that our combined ages is getting very close to 100. My husband, never a great bargain hunter, announced that he had found an amazing deal at a Michelin star restaurant in Haarlem Centrum – and that we would be dining way above our usual comfort zone.

ML restaurant is indeed a beautiful restaurant. Lushly decorated, spacious, with correct consideration given to both lighting and sound. The staff wear crisp white shirts, grey jackets, dark jeans and slick hairstyles. They are professional, knowledgeable – without being intrusive.

The deal was a five course tasting menu with matching wines. Unfortunately I am unable to detail the food served on perhaps ten plates (per person). Each plate was edged with beautiful food decorations – all aesthetically delightful, yet too delicate and small to satisfy the tastebuds.  For example one of the tasting plates exhibited tiny cucumber pieces, artfully cut in different shapes. Simple and still providing the regular taste of cucumber. The wines matched the food – an easy task due to the lack of strong flavours.

Although I appreciate fine dining, I still want to walk away with “delicious” being foremost on the list of words I use to describe the experience. Especially at €220 (tip included) for two people. Many people will disagree with this review. Yet I stand by my opinion that the most spectacular art belongs in galleries, luscious food in restaurants, and good service in both.

Overall, the meal was more an exhibition than a gustatory experience.  http://www.restaurant-ml.nl/index.php/en/

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