Restaurant Frenchie in the center of Haarlem.Statue Els Zweerink

    Of all the good omens I check the air for when entering a new restaurant, the emulsion tap is my favorite. Nothing works on my eating muscles like such a contagious rikketakketíkketakke sound from the kitchen, which indicates that someone is just at that moment, by hand, in a basin, beating clarified butter in an egg yolk-vinegar mixture. It is a rhythm that promises not only the presence of hollandaise sauce – as we know the tastiest there is – but also its freshness, made by chefs with technique, job satisfaction and taste.

    We hear the noise as we enter Frenchie, a compact, lavishly decorated establishment with a few hotel rooms above it on a busy street in the center of Haarlem. We also received other good reports about the restaurant beforehand: that they serve the best brunch in Haarlem, with ‘heavenly scrambled eggs’ and ‘pancakes to die for’. And that, in addition to the ‘super sweet service’, there are also two cuddly pugs walking around – ‘Frenchie’ is the pet name for such a French bulldog.


    Gedempte Oude Gracht 46, Haarlem
    Digit: 8
    Small hotel restaurant with breakfast, lunch, drinks and dinner. Starter around €20, main course around €33, alternating four- and six-course menu (€65/€85).

    Good snacks and a characterful wine list

    It is warm, so we take a seat on the terrace of the charming building that dates back to 1467. The large menu indeed speaks of enormous pleasure. The day menu includes hearty lunch dishes and homemade patisserie. There are good snacks, partly homemade and partly well-purchased: you can order crudités or a plate of cockles, shrimp croquettes from Holtkamp, ​​bread from Mama, sardines from Ortiz, but also caviar and various oysters. There are some cocktails and there is an extensive, characterful wine list, an enticing à la carte menu with classics just a little different (‘twisted french cuisine‘, they call it themselves) and a daily menu of four or six courses. It’s not cheap – what is these days? – but it immediately makes us feel good: nothing is as cheerful as a menu that immediately expresses a clearly crystallized own taste, while there is still plenty to choose from.

    We decide on a four-course menu (€ 65) and also order four courses à la carte. Preceded by a fun, sweet-savory cake with kalamata-olive puree, and also a clear tomato stock with aromatic pickled wild rose petals. With the bread we get curry butter – old-fashioned and very tasty.

    sea ​​creatures

    Our attentive waiter pours an organic muscadet from Domaine Ménard Gaborit, aromatic and fresh and also a little bit salty, at the first course, which for both of us consists of raw or almost raw sea creatures. I order the scallops (€ 19.50) which are nicely combined with ajo blanco, an Andalusian cold soup of almonds, stale bread and garlic, served with grapes. Frenchie also adds some salty, iodine-like palm weed, which works really well. However, the scallops come from the freezer, and we can taste it – the quality is okay, but still not comparable to straight from the shell. They are a lot more expensive, that’s true, but especially if you serve them raw, I say: give me one, instead of three. In the menu we get, with about the same garnish, only slightly seared weever. This is a perch-like fish with stripes and a mean poisonous spine, which is considered bycatch in the Netherlands. However, the taste is refined like sole, and in fact this fish fits even better with the ajo blanco than the scallops.

    Scallops crudo with cucumber, grape and ajo blanco.  Statue Els Zweerink

    Scallops crudo with cucumber, grape and ajo blanco.Statue Els Zweerink

    The second dish on the menu is an eclectic feast of succulent cod, Thai tom kha kai, citrus, a hollandaise (there it is) of smoked eel and puffed rice – a daring stew, but it works great on an extremely luscious plate. The riesling from the Mosel from Bernhard Eifel, with a little bit of residual sweetness, fits perfectly. The raviolo with langoustine (€ 22.50) is also very tasty: good pasta filled with a coarse farce of langoustine and white fish, with turnip, orange confit, a nice clear bisque and the Spanish air-dried beef ham called cecina de leon.


    Then in the menu a main course of leg of lamb with olive and pea cream and a gravy with savory, without fuss and just very well prepared. We also think that the lemon sole (€32.50) fried on the bone in butter is fragrant and juicy, with barbecued cabbage with finely crisp edges, mussels, cockles, sea lavender and capuchins. We also get a beurre blanc with some miso and some fish eggs in it: feast.

    Fried rock plaice with mashed potatoes, chicory and miso butter.  Statue Els Zweerink

    Fried rock plaice with mashed potatoes, chicory and miso butter.Statue Els Zweerink

    After that extremely generous main course, which we nevertheless ate in its entirety, we have little room left. That’s why I order a financier of the day ticket (€ 3) with coffee. Also the dessert from the menu, a Biscuit American style (see box), I like it: the cake is flaky and buttery, and it is served with lots of good raspberries, white chocolate ganache and sweet woodruff sorbet ice cream.

    Frenchie is really one of those places that I think it would be great to have one close by, where you would like to pop in every now and then to be cheered up with exactly what you feel like, by lovely people who know their trade .

    Rusk nor biscuit

    There are hundreds of products derived from the French word ‘Biscuit’, which means ‘twice baked’ – and not all versions actually go in the oven twice. This is the case with rusk: bread dehydrated at a low temperature and therefore more durable, which used to be known as ‘two-baked’ bread. Often it was so dry that you had to ‘dip’ it in a drink in order not to break your teeth – as is still the case with many very hard Italian biscotti. In the patisserie, biscuit often means something else, namely a baking of fat-free batter that forms the basis for all kinds of decorated cakes; this is also called a haircut. And then there are the biscuits: brittle, light brown and rather joyless biscuits like milkshakes or cracklings.

    In Great Britain they are just all the biscuits biscuits from digestives to jaffa cakes and penny waffles. And in America, to complete the confusion, a Biscuit Neither rusk nor biscuit, but a kind of flaky, buttery soda bun somewhat reminiscent of the scone, sometimes served sweet (as with Frenchie), but more often savory, as in the heavy breakfast classic from the south of the US: biscuits and gravy.