Local Heart, Global Soul

December 2, 2009

Restaurant Review: Sandpiper Restaurant, Port Philip, Nova Scotia.

(photo © kiwidutch)

We are in Port Philip, Nova Scotia,  Canada, and are returning to a restaurant that we saw earlier in the afternoon before we got distracted by the beach.

Last time we saw this place we looked in amazement because there was a long queue of people  lined up out the door, the car park was full to bursting and clearly this place was hot to trot  on the scale of popular local dining.

Now, almost two hours later, we pull in to the carpark to try our luck. Luckily the rush is mostly over and they have a table for us no problem. The kids have worked up an appetite and we sit down in anticipation. This establishment is well known  in the area.

We amuse ourselves with some very novel place-mats that depict clippings of old newspaper stories whilst we wait for our orders to arrive.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Our food arrives… once again we have found an excellent family business, the menu is not terribly extensive, but it doesn’t need to be, what these folks  cook, they cook well.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

Everyone enjoys their main meal and then we approach the subject of dessert.

We ask and apparently the Pie is highly recommended. We ask what flavours and I knew my choice as soon as the words  “Lemon Merange”  were uttered… I think that coconut creme was also mentioned, but I was in such a delirium about the possibilities of Lemon Merange  that I might not have remembered that correctly…

(photo © kiwidutch)

The lemon Merangue was simply delectable…

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We have had a wonderful meal… replete, happy and tired we end an amazing day.

(photo © kiwidutch)

December 1, 2009

Nova Scotia, seeking a swim and spying an intriguing scene…

Filed under: CANADA,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photo © kiwidutch)

We  are making a side trip to Canada and have just crossed over the border from New Brunswick into Nova Scotia.

We stop at  the visitor information center right on the border and afterwards pile  everyone back  into the van because we have a mission to complete. The  kids have requested that we find a beach so that they can go for a  swim. The weather is warm enough but it’s very windy, the afternoon is drawing steadily to a close so the race is on to find a suitable beach close by.  Armed with directions from the visitor centre, we start a small exploration of Nova Scotia.

We get off the main highway as quickly as possible and enjoy taking the small winding roads. Our navigational skills are tested when signs that we have been assured are present don’t appear anywhere, and at a certain point it’s clear that we have missed the side road we were looking for.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

The road we are on has limited space for a U turn so it’s decided to turn around as soon as a convenient  spot is available and looking for this spot is how we passed a  family restaurant that immediately caught our attention.

So… what was unusual about the Restaurant we have just seen? Well, the fact that the car park was full to overflowing and that people were  patiently lined up outside the door in a substantial queue grabbed our attention instantly.

Clearly the locals know a good place to eat.

(photo © kiwidutch)

We make a mental note of where we are, do our U turn by the parking area and resolve to head back here after our beach mission. The sign to the beach is there as it turns out, but the sign is only on one side of the post, (opposite  to the way we were traveling the first time) so of course we missed it the first time around.

(photo © kiwidutch)

We arrive late afternoon at a little beach and the wind was far too blustery and a little too cool for a safe full swim.  Still, the girls enjoyed a paddle, shrieking and squealing  as the waves caught their legs and Mr. Four  got all excited about shells, driftwood and all manner of flotsam and jetsam on the beach.

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

(photo © kiwidutch)

We stayed for an hour and a half  whilst the kids let off steam and then somewhere a kid mentioned the ” I’m hun-gry” phrase that triggered a mass rush back to the van, a change out of sandy swimming costumes into dry clothes and as they giggled and huddled in the back, we retraced our steps back to a Family Restaurant that by now really intrigued us.

We arrived to find that the car park was now less packed and that a table for seven was no problem.

July 27, 2009

Restaurant Review: Pirata Familie (Family) Restaurant

Pirata Owner and restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Pirata Owner and restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Agggh me hearties, This could indeed be a restaurant treasure. We gathered the smallest Mates and set sail for another dip into the turbulant waters of Kids and dining out.

Opened recently, Pirata’s is located in The Hague at Groot Hertoginnelaan 206 (Corner Groot Hertoginnelaan & Conradkade) and is a family owned and operated venture from former cafe owners in the nearby Reinkinstraat. Located next to the tramhalt of Line 11 and buses 20 and 21, the back room section of the restaurant has been transformed into a small child’s dream, colouring equipment, a TV (to my son’s delight a“Cars” DVD amongst others) and an array of games and toys on a Pirate theme.

For the older child there is not too much on offer, but the owners are well aware of that and hoped to build in more games for the bigger kids as the restaurant becomes more established. They also quite rightly said that older kids already generally have more options anyway for dining out and that it was the younger customer that was less catered for in the restaurant trade. I heartily agree with their thoughts.

Sails bedeck the rafters, and there are many Pirate surprises featured inside for all the little Hearties to discover… shiver me timbers, quake ye not if you look up high at the pirate that was dragged up from Davy Jones’s locker. Agggh, even the cannon outside on the pavement inspired squeals of delight from our littlest press-ganged Mate.

entree: Vegetable skewers, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

entree: Vegetable skewers, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Lets look at a few of the dishes on offer: Hubbies entree Calamaris homemade squid with garlic mayonnaise followed by Main Course marinaded mushroom salad.

My entree Vegetable skewers followed by Main Course fillet of sole with a butter sauce with capers shallot, lemon and potato wedges.

We shared a dessert (for 2 persons) dessert chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and marshmallows.

The kids opted for a kid meal of croquettes and fries, but there are also a variety of kid friendly meals on the menu.

So now , how does it rate? All in all the food is good… the menu is not overly long or complicated, the meals are very down to earth, flavours are good without being particularly exceptional with the excellent exception of the home made herb butter that is the best of any of it’s sort that I have ever tried so far in my 17 years in The Netherlands. I like to make both herb and garlic butters at home too, but have to concede: Well done ! the Pirata’s herb butter is better than my best efforts so far.

When rating a restaurant as a seriously addicted hobby chef I usually ask myself if I could make the same (or better) at home… Yes, with the exception of the butter , I could easily make this menu with a little practice…  But this restaurant is far less about Michelin Star cuisine and far more about successful dining out with small children, so a simple, well presented menu at a reasonable price is more than a result.  Having visited  Pirata’s now more than once in quick succession, I can also highly recommend the crème brûlée ( not too sweet with wonderful notes of vanilla) and also let you know that we have word from the owner that the menu will be updated regularly, firm favourites will stay on the menu, but new offerings will be available from time to time too in tune with seasonal availbility of ingredients.

I’m all for a small rotation of menu items on a regular basis, it gives returning  customers something to look forward to and helps establish a wider base of the most popular dishes. This in turn makes it easier to bring a larger party of guests here,  to celebrate a family event  or special occasion  with friends and to know that there will be something suitable  on the menu for even the most fussy of palates.

Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

TV's mean you can keep an eye on the kid play area at the back while you sit and enjoy your meal  (photo © kiwidutch)

TV’s mean you can keep an eye on the kid play area at the back while you sit and enjoy your meal (photo © kiwidutch)

At the end of the day, Even better than the menu, is the relaxed atmosphere where adults can dine whilst their kids play happily before and after their meals.

Also, in a country where the service in both shops and restaurants is generally of the lower standard and staff often surly, it is a delight to finally find a restaurant where the staff are welcoming, helpful and friendly and want to make your evening out a pleasurable experience.

Our kids tend to run on low batteries later in the day so it is a small shame that the restaurant only opens at 16.00 and that meals can only be ordered from 16.30 onwards (a lunch time menu would suit our kids energy levels better) …but in the end, the play area keeps children distracted rather well as they reach their tired zone and at least they last for the duration of  the meal.

the best garlic butter I've had in NL so far... Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

the best herb-butter I’ve had in NL so far… Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

 Main Course marinaded mushroom salad, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Main Course marinaded mushroom salad, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Main Course fillet of sole with a butter sauce with capers /shallot, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Main Course fillet of sole with a butter sauce with capers /shallot, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Kid Meal, home made croquette and fries, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

Kid Meal, home made croquette and fries, Pirata Restaurant (photo © kiwidutch)

One thing is definitely sure, bring your appetite with you when you arrive because the portions are ample and and I can guarantee that you won’t come away hungry. Children will be delighted with various trick and treats on offer too (but I won’t show you photos of those… best leave those to be your nice surprise when you visit)

In the end to sum up: an Overall score of 9/10 and we will be very happy to go back to Pirata’s and to recommend this Family Restaurant to other parents with young children, because for the service, fun, food and atmosphere it’s well worth the visit.

Pirata Family Restaurant ( photo © kiwidutch)

Pirata Family Restaurant ( photo © kiwidutch)

Pirata’s Familie Restaurant ,

Groot Hertoginnelaan 206 (Corner Groot Hertoginnelaan & Conradkade) Den Haag (The Hague), The Netherlands. Website address: http://www.pirata-denhaag.nl

July 16, 2009

A new Family Restaurant…

You will all know a place like this somewhere near you… it’s the eating (or drinking) establishment that opens under new ownership and a new name for a few months and then fizzles out after a bit, remaining empty, lost and soulless until a new owner is found, refit done (or not) and a new theme and name tried and failed.

Sometimes a Bar, sometimes a Cafe and sometimes a restaurant, the quality of the food varies wildly depending on who’s in the kitchen and on what shift, or in the case of the bar, the food is an unappetizing after-thought or practically non existent.

Such a place existed in our neighbourhood and since we know half the street and a good proportion of the local community, the gossip of how said establishment was faring (or not) at any one time traveled fast.

Then, news that make our hearts flutter.. . ….a new renovation was taking place, a flyer pasted on the door between the outside glass and the sheets of plastic that obscured the work inside announced that a new theme restaurant was arriving shortly. A Family Restaurant, a “ Pirate” restaurant.

 

(copyright © kiwidutch)

(copyright © kiwidutch)

We eagerly await it’s opening and seeing how it stands up to a test drive by our kids…

June 25, 2009

Relaxed dining out with small children is feat for the brave…

kid favourites, jelly (jello) wedges.

jelly(jello)wedges. Recipezaar Recipe No.210992 by Pikake21, Photo © Kiwidutch

Most parents know that relaxed dining out with small children is feat for the brave.

Inexperienced and innocent parents start out full of hope but quickly discover that the end results range between nightmare and a disaster as your toddler/pre-schooler/seven year old disintegrates into “enfant terrible” with the attention span of a gnat.

All day, and before you entered your chosen establishment they have been on their very best behavior so you rashly thought “ what the heck, at last, a good day to treat ourselves to a meal that we didn’t cook ourselves and excellent, no washing up”.

Ah ha the best laid plans of mice and men…. as surely as if my surname had been Murphy, the Best Behaviour bomb detonates about 5 minutes after you have ordered, which is precisely the time it took for our offspring to have outgrown the novelty of the new surroundings, explored every corner and worn out their endearing smiles with the staff.

At best you can hope for a bad case of fidgets, at worst they will start sliding out of their chairs, exiting under the table and start pestering other diners or crawling on the floor under the waitresses feet as you spend the rest of what was supposed to be an enjoyable meal trying to catch the small wiggly one, trying and failing to disguise a slow run as a “a fast paced nonchalant walk” as you retrieve them back to your table (again), telling them in your quietest but most forceful voice that ice cream won’t be happening ever again in their lifetime if they don’t get their little butts back onto seats pronto, pin on their listening ears and at least make miniscule attempts at stuffing the food that you are paying for into their mouths.

Eating out with kids often means that you might need to reckon on spending most your restaurant time in lavatories with kids that suddenly need to pee pee 3 time in a row, telling siblings to stop fighting, stop kicking each other under the table, telling them to stop saying “yuck” to every second item of food that they see (be it theirs or that of other diners), or for the umpteenth time that their fizzy drink requests got a “ no” the first time around (as it always does in our family) and will still get a “ no” the 84th time they ask too, so why bother to keep asking?, and trying to explain to a pre schooler that standing at the head of other diners tables and staring at them intently whilst they eat is rude and definitely not an activity of which we approve or encourage.

At the very least be prepared to try and eat your now mostly cold meal whilst containing the now caught but wiggling child on your lap.

At home our offspring don’t dare do half the things that they suddenly dare to in a restaurant and I go from being a firm mother at home to looking like a half witted ninny seemingly powerlessly out of control as my little dearest turns on his best tantrum for the whole world to watch. Of course the “ audience factor” has a lot to do with that, since the Time Out seat in our bathroom is a very lonely place to warm a little butt at home but the carrots and cucumber that he eats willingly at our dinner table must suddenly look to this bevy of startled strangers like snippets of poisoned fare placed daintily on a fork and that he is rightly fighting for his life.

Sprinkles and cream make most the most basic desserts special

Chocolate Marshmallow Cream Recipezaar Recipe No.220484 by twissis, Photo © Kiwidutch

Even the sweetest of babies have their moments… it’s one of the true the mysteries of life that our almost never sick daughter treated us in turn to her best bout of continuously overflowing diarrhea, serial vomiting, and sudden high temperature in three different restaurants during 3 different holidays in various parts of the globe…. and that when you desperately need 4 nappies in seriously quick succession you have only packed two, and the one and only time you didn’t pack spare clothes for a head to foot change is the one time that you needed them urgently or that if you do miraculously do have everything for them but that they have heaved out so much onto you and that having done that have now returned to a state of happiness or sleep, but that now you are left in no fit state of sight or smell to sit and even look at food let alone remotely enjoy it.

Lessons learned, for the next four years we pretty much traded restaurant meals for ordered in take-aways, until they were a little older and us a little wiser, but one day we summoned up the courage to try again.

Now it’s time to go out on a quest in search of the only thing on a menu that could be the recipe for eating out success: a Child Friendly Restaurant.

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