Flores:  Dining in the Indischebuurt

This weekend we used the last of our AH restaurant actions and ventured to the floresIndischebuurt 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.

FOOD:
Entrée
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.


Dessert:
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.

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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).

lambfigs

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!

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.

The Gin Sum Club

g&tAfter much anticipation, The Gin Sum Club(TGSC) opened its impressive doors eight weeks ago. Located on the corner of Zijlstraat and Gedempte Oude Gracht, evidence of the previous tenants, Rabobank, adds charm to this otherwise totally morphed building. New to Haarlem, the interior of GSMC is perhaps something you could expect to find in London, NY or Berlin. Slick, upmarket and urban.
Having made a reservation for Saturday, our party of four were seated at a table adjacent to the open kitchen – a comfortable, but very noisy position. The staff are well-versed in selling the restaurant vision and describing the menu. The blurb about a vision of sharing meals instead of traditional one plate-one customer dining – is a growing restaurant trend in Haarlem – and something that often (in my humble opinion) results in a very expensive evening with the need for a snack on the way home.

FOOD:
We ordered five plates from the dim sum menu: Veggie Gyoza (€7.50) with truffles and gsc4mini mushrooms; Crispy Chicken Gyoza (€5.25); Thod Man Pla Dumpling with lemongrass and ponzu (€6.75); Spring Rolls with duck, shallots and hoisin sauce (€8.25); and Fried Wontons filled with smoked eel and duck liver (€9.00). All dishes provided four pieces, were delicious and made on site. Accompanying sauces were correctly matched to the ingredients. Presentation was beautiful.

From the sharing menu, we enjoyed a Japanese style salad of yellowfin, dashi, cucumber, and citrus flavours (€13); Rendang gsc2Steak Tartare with ginger and Asian vegetables (€13); and Pork Belly with prawns and kimchi (€13). Again – all three dishes were delectable and aesthetically pleasing – yet being the size of an average entrée only provided each member of our group with small spoon size portion to taste.

DRINKS:
The gin menu is the focus of TGSM with 40+ types of gin (ranging from €5.50-€11.50 per serve) and 18 types of tonic (€3.25-€4.75) and a plethora of garnishes to match the whims of every guest. All gin drinks are served in a tall glass with a stirrer holding a small piece of dry ice – that fizzes and emits a cloud of smoke when the tonic is added. This is a magical effect!
TGSM also offers a menu of cocktails, beers, wines and non-alcoholic drinks.

OVERALL: Our total bill came to €168. This included a bottle of sparkling water, 8 g&ts, 5 dim sums and 3 entrée-size share dishes. Yes – everything was delicious, the service was very good, and the venue was amazing …. yet we were all felt a little underwhelmed. On reflection, the reason being that we had expected a restaurant experience – and although TGSC has a restaurant, it is more bar/club than restaurant. The leather chairs that furnish the ‘lounging section’ are perfect for comfortable conversation while sipping on a fancy g&t and nibbling on dumplings. Next time, we will eat first and come later to enjoy and indulge what TGSC offers.

tgsc5

photo:  www.iens.nl

CLEEFF – A neighbourhood haven

I hate to admit this, but I have been to CLEEFF three times in the last 36 hours. I love this place to the point of becoming a café regular or stalker.

cleeff 2

photo:  www.bijzonderplekjes.nl

CLEEFF is situated on the corner spot that was previously occupied by a chemist (apotheek). The café is bright, due to large windows and the use of light colours. Bonus for everyone – is the children’s room at the back of the café!

The food menu is creative, inexpensive, fresh – and based on the delicious warm smoked salmon + beet + avocado+ horseradish cream sandwich (€6.50) that I enjoyed yesterday – is going to make many health and taste conscious customers happy.

I also love that coffee and other warm beverages are served with a heavenly bit-size piece of home-made chocolate fudge.

cleeffThis place has been opened for a few months – and is already popular with the local Kleverpark residents. Open workdays from 8.30am-6.00pm (hooray!! a breakfast venue!!) and on weekends 10am-6.00pm (hooray!! long lunch + wine), with free WiFi and table service – CLEEFF has made it to the top of my daytime eateries.

Address:  Kleverparkweg 13, Kleverpark, Haarlem

 

De Nieuwe Koningin – eat like a queen!

Nestled in an inner city backstreet , De Nieuwe Koningin (http://www.restaurantnieuwekoningin.nl/restaurant) occupies the corner space that I formally knew as a bakery. Being my third attempt to eat at the restaurant – after two previously botched reservations (one on my part), we booked a table for two on a Thursday evening.
In true Dutch style, the restaurant is “gezellig” – comfortable, softly lit, elegantly furnished, and a little squeezed together. Staff welcomed us and proved to be professional, knowledgeable and friendly througout the evening.

FOOD

This restaurant offers a non-traditional menu: small dishes for all courses (€9.50), with a small selection of sides (€3.25), and six dessert choices (€8.50). Dishes are more elegant and slightly larger than Spanish tapas dishes. The number of dishes you order depends on how hungry you are. We ordered the following and left feeling satisfied.scallops

Scallops (2) served with marinated red cabbage and turmeric jus. Very gentle flavors. Scallops cooked perfectly.
Fish of the day with fennel, lentils and oven roasted cherry tomatoes. Fish had the unusual texture of a monkfish – firm but somehow squishy. Taste was delicious especially with accompanying vegetables.
Portobello Mushroom (1) filled with french brie and served with steamed spinach dressed with a balsamico dressing and pinenuts. A personal favourite up to standard!
Venison with small potatoes, cabbage + bacon, and truffle jus. A tiny treat, palatable and aesthetically satisfying.
Green beans with pine nuts (side dish)

Summary: All dishes served and the service provided were very good. With the meal we enjoyed a lovely bottle of rose (€19.50), complimentary bread rolls + butter, and tap water. Total bill= €61. Recommended!

fishmains