Restaurant Artikel 461 'Verboden Toegang': No entry!
Verboden Toegang is Dutch for "No entry" and that is the theme of the restaurant. It is decorated with hundreds of warning signs from all over the world.
All the dishes on the menu have names that reflect a prohibition or a punishment of some kind.
This is a placed that I had heard a lot about but never had the chance to try out. It is located right off the Rapenburg canal (my favourite in Leiden), so on a nice day, it makes for a great walk.
I started with a Carpaccio (aptly named "Red Card"), which was good, but far from being one of the best I have had. My girlfriend had an excellent "Opgerolde bende", lamb ham rolled around green asparagus!
I had a very nice filet steak ("Topcrimineel"), which was tender and nicely cooked. Our other choice was not as good, though. The Dutch mini shrimp (hollandse garnaalen) with Avocado and apple were not as good as they should have been. The shrimp were not very tasty and the Avocado was not ripe. Too bad, as it had the potential of being a very nice dish.
Service was extremely friendly and all waiters/waitresses were happy and playful. It was, however, quite slow and it took some time for the food to reach our table.
Since, as I mentioned, it was a bit slow, we ended up not tasting any of the desserts.
This is the kind of restaurant I would call "Dutch". It is quite dark - wooden floor and partly also on the walls - and has that buzzing (loud) feel to it. I like places like this.
Prices were a bit steep, but not too exaggerated. We paid 60 Eur for a starter, a main and a couple of drinks (non-alcoholic).
Johann: The only Austrian restaurant in Leiden :)
I must admit that I am not very knowledgeable on Austrian food and apart from the Schnitzel and the Apfelstrudel I cannot name another traditional dish (well, I guess knowing two is more than I can say for some other countries).
This place is decorated in a "traditional" way, but I think it looks a bit fake. It is quite large, so there is place for a large group. Waitresses are also dressed in traditional clothes, whether that is a good thing, I leave up to you.
As for the food, it was good. I had the Schnitzel and it was quite tender and tasty. One of the problems with this restaurant is that there is quite a limited selection on the menu, so either you really like the Schnitzel, or you risk running out of options pretty soon.
My dessert was not very good, I had the Heisse Liebe, which is supposed to be vanilla icecream covered in coconut, but they forgot the coconut...
My friend had the Strudel and quite liked it.
Service was very friendly, but it took forever to get the food. We were served by two waitresses and one was really nice and the other not really. The nice waitress later told us that there had been a problem in the kitchen and that was why it took so long to get our order.
A full meal with dessert and drinks will cost 18-20 Eur
Delphi: (Almost) all you can eat
I usually like Greek food, but I don't always digest it very well. For that reason I rarely eat it, but when I do, I tend to do it here.
Food here is generally very good and portions tend to be quite large. If you eat a "starter" and a main, you will probably get more than you can eat.
Service is quite nice, some of the waiters are Greek, which adds to the authenticity and makes the experience more enjoyable.
The Suflaki Thalassino is very good, so is the Suflaki and Giros. The Delphi Shotel (dish) is also a great choice for the undecided (a mix of meats).
The fried feta is also good.
The kitchen is open until 22.30, which is unusually late for Leiden standards and we have often stayed until after midnight without any complaints.
Prices are reasonable, expect to pay about 20-25 Eur per person (you also get free salad bar).
Siesoton: My new favorite Thai
I had been ignoring this place for a long time - big mistake.
A few weeks ago, we decided to go there for an early dinner and it was a good thing we came early as the place was full as we started eating. There are not many tables (about 6-7, i guess) and in the summer you can sit outside.
We had passed in front of the restaurant earlier that day and as I was trying to find the phone number somewhere on the menu in the window, a lady came running out of the door and handed us a business card - I guess she was the owner. It was quite funny and does not often happen in the Netherlands.
We had a very good meal, menu is just like most other Thai I have been to, you just choose the kind of meat or fish and then you have a choice of ways to prepare it.
I had an excellent beef with Thai basil - not only was it extremely tasty, but it was also a large portion.
The springrolls we ordered as starters were not the best I have had, but not bad either.
Service was extremely friendly, the only minor complaint was the fact there was only one waiter and it took some time to get more drinks. In any case, he apologized when he came to the table, which is also a nice gesture.
There are no desserts on the menu, but you probably don't need them at all after a starter and a main.
I have read on the website that it also provides catering services and take-away. Prices are average, at about 20 Eur/person for a meal including drinks.
I definetly recommend this restaurant, it is just on the edge of the center, but well worth the short walk.
The only alternative for me is Sisaket (See my other tip), but the portions here at Siesoton are larger.
Favorite Dish: The beef with thai basil was great!
La Cloche: Somewhat pretentious, expensive and VERY slow...
...could be used to describe this place.
I made a reservation for my girlfriend's birthday and asked for a nice table, preferably by the window. I was told it was not available, but I would get a "very nice one"...
When we arrived, we were seated at our table, at the very end of the restaurant, in a small, dark room (not cosy or romantic) with three other tables. I would have preferred any other, but the place seemed to be almost full.
We then were greeted by a waiter that, although nice and polite, was a bit of a comedian and was always joking, which was fine until things started to go wrong and we were getting a bit upset.
It took about 15 minutes before we got the actual menu, an additional 30-40 minutes to get (one!) starter and the main course took almost another one hour!!! In total, we spent 2h45m to eat one starter, two main courses and and a small dessert. I was enjoying the company, but this is a bit too long for my taste.
The restaurant was a bit pretentious as it was supposed to be classy but then we had dirty glasses and the bottle cooler was all dirty as well. There was also a dog sitting right next to the cutlery (nothing against animals, I just don't like to eat their hair). At a certain point, the waiter came and poured the water in my glass and he dropped the bottle cap on the floor. He picked it up and but it back on the bottle!!! This is not supposed to happen.
My girlfriend wanted some wine to go with the main course. We managed to finish it completely(!) before the waiter came with the wine. At this stage, she said she did not wanted it anymore and the waiter started asking "not even a little bit? Come on, just a sip!". Believe me, it was even more ridiculous than it sounds.
To top things off, we were sitting next to three tables of loud-speaking people (I think they were all business meetings) that would answer their mobile phones at the table, after they had been ringing at least for 30 seconds (it happen 3-4 times). I guess this kind of restaurant will attract this kind of people.
Favorite Dish: In the end, I did not like the table, the people around us were really annoying, when that was not enough the waiter was there to "help" and the food, although good, was definetly not worth the money.
The three dishes we had (spicy avocado sallad with shrimps, St. Pierre fish and beef filet) were good, but not good enough to justify the price.
Starters are 9 or 11 Eur, main courses 20 and desserts 9 Eur.
We paid 60 Eur for one starter, 2 main courses and drinks.
Wessels: Was my favourite place
I decided to remove my tip and recommendation for this restaurant after an unpleasant experience some time ago.
We were not treated properly and the owners did not care about it when we explained it to them.
- Food and Dining
Cojico Mexican Restaurant: My search for good mexican food continues...
I "discovered" Mexican food during my trips to Canada and the US in previous years and ever since I have been searching for a good Mexican restaurant in the Netherlands, preferably in Leiden. So far, I have been unsuccessful.
This restaurant is located on th Breestraat, which is very close to where I live, so I decided to give it a try some time ago, however, I was not impressed.
Starting with the service, it is not great. The food is not to my liking at all. The food was just not tasty and the torillas they brought were already wrapped and covered in sauce, so they were all wet and soft... The fajitas were really not any good either.
I got the feeling some of these courses were frozen meals they just heat up...
It is not a horrible place, but it is definelty not somewhere I enjoyed eating at.
Bagels & Beans: Breakfast/Lunch and... free Internet
If you are in the mood for breakfast, light lunch or justr a snack, this is a nice place to go.
There is a rather limited selection of food, mainly bagels with many kinds of "filling". There are also some muffins and you can only get "healthy drinks" (i.e. water or juice) and coffee/tea. The applejuice was excellent, even if bottled.
I had a "tuna salad" bagel which was quite good, but I could not help noticing that it is not enough for a person like me (it was lunch). I was in a bit of a hurry so I did not order another, but I might consider doing that the next time.
A bagle and a juice will cost you about 7-8 Eur.
Service was very friendly, althoug a bit slow and somewhat inefficient. Three bagels took almost 30 minutes...
I was also told there is free wireless Internet, so if you bring along your laptop, you can read your while waiting.
Favorite Dish: Friendly service
Free Wireless internet
La Bota: Spareribs
If you wonder how a traditional Dutch restaurant looks like, this seems to be it. Wooden walls and floors, low light a lot of smoke and sticky tables. Trust me, it can be quite charming.
This place is known for its huge spare ribs. Most people come just for that. The steaks are also fine.
As I mentioned, it is quite nice inside, the menu, for instance, is written in chalk on a blackboard on the wall (although it never changes :)). The tables are sticky, but you will find that in many restaurants in the Netherlands. If you can just ignore that everything will be just fine.
It's also a nice place for parties as you can put some tables together and gather a quite large group of people.
You will not find the nicest restaurant or the best food (apart maybe from the spareribs) here, but quality is good, prices are reasonable and it is quite cozy.
In the summer, you can also eat outside, it's not the most charming location, but is usually pleasant.
Favorite Dish: The spareribs - huge and tasty.
The regular steak (dikbil entrecote) is also OK, preferably with some sauce on top (I usually go for stroganoff or pepper).
The waffle with cinnamon ice-cream (or the ice-cream by itself).
- Food and Dining
M'n broer: La Bota's big Brother
This place belongs to the same person as "La Bota" and a couple of other restaurants. They apparently share kitchen with (La Bota is separate, but the other 2-3 share).
It looks very nice, all wooden interiors, but superior service and food. Obviously, it is also slightly more expensive (not much, though)
There is a daily (or weekly) dish that is usually very good, but everything on the menu seems to be good anyway (I've been there a few times).
They only take reservation for 6 or more people.
Djebena: Who needs cutlery?
This is a nice Eritrean restaurant in which you eat with your hands. Yes, it is a way of cutting costs. No, actually that is the way people eat in Eritrea, but you can ask for a knife and fork if you absolutely must.
Food is served on a kind of pancake. You then use more pancake to grab and eat it. Usually it is minced or cut in small pieces so it is not very difficult, but if you get the chicken breast, you have to rip of pieces, even more fun!
The decor is very nice, specially the table cloths.
If you ask for the traditional beer, it is served inside some dried fruit instead of a glass.
Favorite Dish: Everything
Sisaket: Best Thai in Leiden?
Not that I know many other in Leiden, but many seem to agree this is the best Thai restaurant in the city.
The food is very good, but what is amazing is the service. I was extremely surprised at how nice everyone was.
You can sit in the room upstairs or downstairs. I would recommend upstairs, nothing wrong with the other room just that it is right next to the kitchen (which is open) so there is some noise and of course the strong odors.
This is one of the most pleasant restaurants I know of.
Favorite Dish: Everything!
- Food and Dining
Sorrento: The one to avoid
I personally think the Netherlands are not a service-oriented country and that often service is much worse than it should be. This is the case in Sorrento, except the owner/waiter is Italian.
So what? you might ask. The kind of service you get at this restaurant would guarantee an empty place back in Italy.
When the place opened 3-4 years ago, it was actually quite good, the food was and the service was good. However, as it grew in popularity the quality decreased dramatically to a point where it is no longer acceptable.
For instance, pizza is not made using Mozzarella cheese, but a lower-quality substitute. Italians and food-lovers in general will know that makes a huge difference.
The last 3 times I went (and I only went because some friends insisted) my pizza was inedible and when I complained, all I got was a comment from the owner: "strange". No apology, no new pizza, no free dessert, nothing!
I have other horror stories, one much worse than this, but I will not go on. All I can say is that you will be much better off not going there at all.
The owner is very rude and arrogant. On the door, he had a sign for a long time that reads: "looking for waitress, about 18 years old", I think you get the picture.
Favorite Dish: Nothing
La Delizia: The only Italian restaurant I go to - OUTDATED
This restaurant has actually closed. Another one has taken its place, but I have not been there yet. Keeping the tip for historical reasons only
My girlfriend is Italian and although I already liked Italian food before, I now am addicted to it.
Unfortunately, there are not many good Italian restaurants in Leiden. At the moment this is the only one I go to.
The overall quality of food is very high. The owner is from the south of Italy (Sicily, to be more precise) where they take food VERY seriously. Ingredients are always good quality and the weekly dish is usually something quite unusual (like pork with saffron or truffle pasta, etc) and very good.
The only "complaints" I have are the relatively small portions of pasta and the prices that have gone up a bit (compared with the ones 2 years ago). It is not expensive, however, just average.
Another thing to take into account is that everything is prepared at the moment, with fresh ingredients so it sometimes takes a while to get served, especially if it is a larger group.
The owner is the man with a ponytail and he usually can give you very good tips on what to eat.
Favorite Dish: Any pizza, pasta, meat or fish... actually everything.
If you ask to prepare a nice plate of "antipasti", you will not be disappointed!
- Food and Dining
Indian Way: Indian food? Not here.
I only went there once, you'll understand why in a moment.
We were a group of 8 people and the problems started when one of us ordered beer before the meal. The waiter said no, that it should be served with the meal. When the person insisted, with another waiter, he said yes, but never brought it. Only after the food was served!
The food was definitely not among the best I have had and the service the whole evening was just bad.
In the end, we got a hand-written piece of paper with a lot of figures on it - the bill. We wanted a printed one, or at least with on a letterhead. They refused, saying the computer was broken....
Favorite Dish: Nothing
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