It wasn’t that long ago that people looked at me with a certain amount of compassion when I mentioned I lived in Almere. That “boring ass” city where no one would want to be caught dead in. At first, I couldn’t help but bow my head somewhat and agree. But long gone are the days when venturing outside of town was necessary in order to shop (commerce is growing stronger by the day), enrich the mind (plenty of cultural activities such as expositions, readings, film and theater), and wine and dine (though not all of them are equally exciting, there are enough new restaurants popping up all over the city).
I had heard of Barista in Almere, a café which opened late this past July, but had yet to visit.
Last Saturday as hubby and I were driving to Haarlem for our lunch date (have you read the review yet?), we were talking about my experience at the recently opened Proeflokaal Bregje in Almere (read that review, too?). Was I too harsh, I asked? Was I expecting miracles for such a price? I mean, seriously. What the heck did I think I was going to get for €12,50? For three courses, that price is just plain ‘ridiculous’, so chill it there girlfriend! Right?? Well, actually, he reminded — wrong.
Let’s rewind back to a rainy August afternoon in France in 2013. Just as an example, because believe me, I could give you more. We were on our way to further explore the Médoc wine region and had agreed to stop along the way at a restaurant recommended by one of my favorite Dutch wine growers (and cheeky devil of a writer) Ilja Gort. This particular restaurant, called La Fontaine, supposedly served a pretty awesome lunch menu for the mere price of €13,00. I knew I had to check it out, not because I thought this couldn’t be done, but because it was recommended by Mr. Gort. A good lunch (with what I call ‘stick-to-the-ribs’ food) for almost next to nothing is not that uncommon in France, a country that takes its lunch breaks (and its food, but that goes without saying) very seriously.
But alas, when we arrived, on a Monday, La Fontaine was closed. Somewhat disappointed we continued on a bit further, in the direction of Pauillac, where somewhere along the way hubby pointed out a roadside restaurant. I, however, was just the slightest bit hesitant. From the outside it did not look that inviting. A little too rugged for my taste.
I did agree though, as I was hungry… and eager to get on with our wine tour. And holy heavens am I glad I did!
Brace yourself, because here it comes! Don’t mind the lesser quality photos…
The starter was succulent prawns served with a simple green salad dressed with not much more than a well-prepared citrusy and fabulously tangy mayo. Oh and there was bread. Plenty of good, chewy French bread.
Then came the main: A steak perfectly grilled, sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt and served with good thick-cut chips, crunchy on the outside and piping hot. The vegetables were simple, but who’s going to bitch about vegetables when you’ve already been served the mother of steaks??
I should mention that each of us got a small pitcher of wine to go with our meal. Not crap wine. A simple, smooth merlot and a fruity rosé. Note: that’s my daughter’s ‘coca’ in the background. On holiday, she’s allowed…
There was even dessert, mousse au chocolat, which I did not photograph (sorry) and coffee to round it all off.
And all of that for the ‘ridiculous’ price of €15,00 per meal. €15,00!! Just €2,50 more than what I paid at Proeflokaal Bregje (excluding the crappy Cosmo). That ‘ridiculous’ price was enough to buy me a meal at Au Poivre et Sel in Le Pian-Médoc. A meal that left me swooning. Yes, people. It is possible.
If the French can do it, why can’t we?
This salad is delicious as a light lunch or starter. The warm, creamy goat’s cheese pairs wonderfully with the crisp, juicy chunks of apple and the salty pops of bacon. Serve the salad with a refreshing Sancerre for yourself and someone you love.