Look, I’ll come clean straight away, I don’t speak Dutch. Although half Dutch, I was born in England and all I know is about a dozen words and a few nursery rhymes learnt by heart as a child. If you get me drunk enough, I can be persuaded to sing them. The lack of Dutch has never been a problem before, because virtually all Dutch people speak English, or I’ve been with a Dutch speaking family member. This time there were five of us, all cousins, but only two Dutch speakers.
Yes, the staff at Vlaar spoke good English, but the menu was only in Dutch – and why not? It’s their country, they shouldn’t have to translate everything into a foreign language. Although the waiter did a creditable job of translating the menu verbally, it was hard to remember everything. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, waiter brought the drinks menu and people started to order drinks. I wanted wine, but before I did, I wanted to know what I’d be eating, so I said I’d wait till I saw the food menu. I was informed that it is customary to have a drink first, so K and I ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc. Our two Dutch cousins had ordered a glass of chardonnay each, but I don’t care for chardonnay. I ordered the set menu of the day because when the waiter was reciting it, I understood everything and it all sounded OK. I felt a bit helpless not being able to read the menu.
While we were still waiting for our starters, a waiter came and started topping up my Dutch cousins chardonnay glasses with sauvignon blanc. She didn’t even check with them if they wanted any more, let alone if they were happy to mix the two wines. I asked my cousins if they were OK with this, but nobody else knew what I was talking about. White wine is white wine, isn’t it?
The food came, modest portions, well cooked, fussily presented but perfectly acceptable. We got another bottle of the sauvignon blanc and I decided to chill out and not be such a pretentious twat – white wine is white wine, innit? Three first cousins (one from Germany, one from Australia and me) had spent four days with our second cousin, who took us to the sacred sites: the house in Amsterdam where our grandfather grew up, and the piece of land our ancestor lived on till 1630 when he went to Amsterdam to trade in tobacco and brandy. We had such a great time, lots of laughing. This meal was our thank you to our Dutch cousins, we were determined to have a good time, and we did. Despite great merriment, you will be glad to hear that I spared the company my extraordinary rendition of "Toen onze Mop een Mopje was"
Vlaar is a nice restaurant, you’ll like it, but take a native speaker with you.
OK, fairly expensive, April 2012 DS