Discover Benelux, Issue 30, June 2016

Page 60

Discover Benelux | Tourism | Haarlem City Special

Proper Italian food on historic Dutch market square TEXT: KOEN GUIKING | PHOTOS: RESTAURANT APPLAUSE

Every week a batch of fresh ingredients, imported from Italy, are delivered at Restaurant Applause on the Grote Markt in Haarlem. “Tomatoes from Sicily taste so much better than the ones you buy in the Dutch supermarkets,” says the restaurant’s owner and chef Arjen Nieuwenhuis. Restaurant Applause, open from Wednesday to Sunday, specialises in southern Italian food. “This means that the dishes are simple and made with few ingredients, but that the quality of those ingredients has to be excellent,” Nieuwenhuis explains. He therefore sources all his products from Italian suppliers. “Occasionally, when I run out of stock, I have to buy some vegetables from local shops, but I do what I can to avoid that.”

How serious is he about getting the best ingredients? In the past year he made two trips to Italy to find new suppliers of culatello ham and truffles. Nieuwenhuis, who has been running this restaurant for over 20 years, aims to make all his antipasti and pasta taste the way they do in Italy. Applause’s interior has many Italian features; seen from the outside, however, it cannot get any more Dutch. Situated in a row of restaurants with outside eating areas, guests have a view of the Grote Markt with its St. Bavo church, grand city hall and the statue of Laurens Janszoon Coster, inventor of the printing press. Restaurant Applause on Haarlem’s Grote Markt serves genuine Italian food and beverages.

Roast chicken and rock ‘n’ roll TEXT: KOEN GUIKING | PHOTOS: ROAST CHICKEN BAR

In a former garage, two young entrepreneurs started the biggest restaurant in Haarlem: Roast Chicken Bar. Basically, it serves roast chicken and beer and is hugely popular.

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“We serve simple, good food. But we also offer our customers an experience,” says Michael Kras, one of the founders of Roast Chicken Bar on the Turfmarkt in Haarlem. Every Sunday, for example, there is live music. Sunday Roast, it is called. And although the restaurant/bar has only been open since December 2015, it has already had well-known musicians performing, like Speelman & Speelman and Michael Prins. How do they manage this? “Singer Marjet van den Brand does the programming. She knows quite a lot of people in the industry,” Kras explains.

The Roast Chicken Bar – which is called The Egg Store during the day, when it serves wholesome breakfast and lunch, with lots of egg of course – seats up to 150 people inside and another hundred customers on the terrace, overlooking the Turfmarkt and the Spaarne river. It is based on concepts Kras and his business partner Bas Lammersen discovered on their travels to New York and London. It looks like an American diner, serves local beers, homemade lemonade and good portions of food – “either half a chicken or a whole chicken, depending on how hungry you are” – and has rock ‘n’ roll music playing in the background. Or, as the owners put it: “It’s about hot chicks, booze and bloody good music.”