It has been a while since I did a ‘Lunch Date Saturday’ review, so without further ado, let’s get on with my experience at Krab aan de Haven yesterday, a seafood restaurant located in Almere-Haven. It isn’t a new restaurant. It’s been there a while and has had it good moments (being chosen as best restaurant in the city by Robert Kranenborg in 2006) and its lesser moments (having to be helped by Herman den Blijker’s restaurant makeover program ‘Herrie Gezocht’ in 2011). I am a huge seafood fan and had yet to visit the restaurant. It’s hard to believe that yesterday was my first time. Perhaps the reason is because I’m quite biased when it comes to choosing places to eat out. I usually prefer restaurants outside of my own city. Not because the restaurants here are horrible (although we certainly have a few disasters), but because the atmosphere is quite different in other cities, in my opinion.
That was my first thought when I stepped into an empty Krab aan de Haven yesterday afternoon.
Beautiful restaurant, attentive waiter, yet not a single client in sight. I wondered if this would’ve been different had it been summer. The restaurant is located on the waterfront and has a huge terrace perfect for people watching. I think there would have been more clientele, even if just for drinks, if the weather was warm. On the other hand, we don’t have much of an ‘out for lunch’ culture here. You won’t see many people taking the time to enjoy a long, relaxed wine lunch with dessert and coffee in Almere. We do have a considerable ‘eat-and-run’ crowd’ who lunch on sandwiches washed down with OJ, milk or soft drinks, on the other hand. I’m not generalizing, I’m just reporting what I’ve seen time and time again at local restaurants. Anyhow, I find it a great shame that a restaurant such as this one was so painfully empty.
The restaurant has different menus. There are seafood classics such as bouillabaisse, oysters, crab and lobster. There is a varied lunch menu with sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups and ‘plates’ consisting of fried seafood and chips. And there is a ‘Gastrobar’ menu with twenty-three dishes that sound amazing and make choosing no easy task. I should also point out that the wine list is by no means skimpy. Plenty of choices. Also, by the glass and therefore perfect with the ‘small dishes’ concept.
The bouillabaisse I cannot praise enough. Generous on the seafood with an aromatic broth. The only thing that I missed was croûtons and rouille. While the risotto was generous on the black truffle and wild mushrooms, I do feel it could have been a little creamier. The coquilles served on the half shelf with a Dutch prawn ragout were luscious and made up for my last coquilles au gratin experience, which took place in Boulogne-sur-Mer, nonetheless. But the true star of the show was the eel salad with smoked and deep-fried eel. Pure culinary artistry when paired with crisp green apple and a dressing made with Dutch ‘appelstroop’ (thick apple syrup). All of the dishes were enjoyed with a pleasant Chablis. Boring, perhaps, considering the variety offered, but there will be a next time. And, there are still nineteen dishes that must be tried.
The good thing about the whole ‘gastrobar’ concept is that it’s like a playground for the taste buds. Plenty of textures and flavors to keep them entertained. Plus, the small portions means room for dessert. I was one of the first lucky people to try their waffle with rum sauce and cinnamon ice cream, which was, like the British would say, absolutely moreish. But in case you like to keep things simple (although ‘simple’ really isn’t a good word here), try the tournedos with pepper sauce. You can almost eat it with a spoon.
I’m already fantasizing about lunching out on their terrace this summer. Though I’m sure I’ll be there at least a few time before that.