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.

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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Cafe at the Dolhuys Museum

My favourite place to hang out in Haarlem is the Dolhuys Café, tucked in behind the Dolhuys Museum (National Museum for Psychiatry) on Schotersingel.   In the three years I have been haunting this café, there have been many changes:  renovations, management, staff, hours, menus.  The current version works well for me.

Environment:

Light, airy space with lots of windows and pale-coloured wood, and  inoffensive background music.  The area facing the outside of the building is covered almost completely by glass – giving the feeling of sitting in an english conservatory.  A small children’s area suitably occupies most kids for the length of time it takes to sip a coffee at a relaxed pace.  The appearance of sunshine means that most patrons can be found sitting under the trees that partially cover the terrace yet still allow for suntans.  

Menu:

In its current state, the menu is restricted to lunch foods, sandwiches and soups, and coffee accompaniments like Dutch appeltaart and muffins.  While very acceptable, the food is not the reason to come to the Dolhuys café.  Instead come in the late afternoon with a book or a friend, order a tea, or better still, a glass of wine – and relax.

The staff are relaxed to the point of sometimes taking ages to serve you  – but this is forgivable and causes little stress.  With free wifi, freelancers (hand up) often set up and work for an hour or two without being asked to move on.  

It is all very easy.  And lovely.

Open:  Tuesday-Friday 10-5, Saturday-Sunday 11-5.  Special events listed on website:  http://www.hetdolhuys.nl/bezoeker/museumcafe

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La Foule – who would have guessed???

Camouflaged by an ugly carpark on the opposite side of the street,  french restaurant La Foule (translation:  the crowd)  is a hidden gem.  Located at de Haasstraat 14, 2011 DW Haarlem, this french bistro style restaurant offers both terrace and inside sitting options. If catching some sunlight is not your top priority, sit inside, immerse yourself in the charm and music indicative of this delightful restaurant.    We visited La Foule as a party of four on 17 May 2014 enjoying an IENS restaurant week deal – or a  3-course meal for €30 per person.  All items on the menu were available without restrictions or supplementary payments for coupon holders.

ENVIRONMENT

Disregarding the unfortunate view of the car park, the interior of the restaurant is decorated with large old mirrors, old posters, dark wood and lead light glass.  The effect is Parisian art deco. Tables are adequate spaced so that noise is not a problem.  Table decorations are simple, yet elegant.  Lighting is conducive to the setting, but bright enough to examine the food being served.

FOOD

Entrées:

Pate de fois with toasted brioche – house made and delicious.

Bouillabaisse- great taste and plenty of seafood.

Coquille St Jacques au gratin:  the definite winner!  Beautifully presented and perfectly cooked.

Mains:

Gigot d’agneau:  roasted succulent lamb.

Homard rotie avec sauce béarnaise:  half a lobster served with baby potatoes, spinach and béarnaise sauce.  Always difficult to eat, and this half was a little too small to make the effort worthwhile.

Desserts:

Crème Brulee:  perhaps the best cream brulee ever, and this is a longtime favourite!

Crepe Suzette:  classic style, smooth blend of flavors, great presentation

Plateau de Fromage:  some new and classic choices.  Good portions and matching accompaniments.

Wine:

Les Palisses Blanc – the house white.  22.75euro per liter carafe.

Service:  Professional, polite, knowledgeable and warm.

Overall:  Fantastic dining experience.  Delicious food, beautifully presented by skilled staff in an delightful environment (inside at least!) Main meals average around €18.  Excellent value, even without a coupon.  La Foule is open for lunch thurs-sat, and dinner wed-sun.

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