A Fun Food Tour in Den Haag
It can be frustrating when you live in a city and feel like you do not know the best places for food and drink. Our house is situated in Delft, between Den Haag and Rotterdam so we really have three cities to learn. This has been a challenge for us because learning about food joints in Europe is more of a challenge than doing so in the U.S. because there are many fewer chain restaurants here. And while most restaurants in this area of the Netherlands have helpful websites, the best way to really learn about restaurants is to go inside.
The Bites & Stories food tour helped us do just that. We chose their Grand & Spectacular tour, which was four hours on a Saturday. Our tour guide was Marthe, one of the two co-founders. She met us in front of the Noordeinde Palace, handed each of the eight of us a bottle of water and we headed off. This tour normally stops at between eight and ten food and drink outlets. Our tour stopped at nine. The maximum group size is 10 and I felt that eight was the perfect number. Any more than eight or 10 and the small, locally owned shops would feel crowded.
Marthe walked us through several parts of Den Haag and explained some of the interesting cultural and historical bits about the area. Her delivery was not polished and I felt that the information density was quite low. I think that with practice, her delivery will improve and she will add more detail about the city. She did a great job keeping us all on course. Our group included a person in a wheelchair and Marthe adjusted our routing so that the wheelchair could get across streets and over curbs.
We stopped at some pretty hip spots, including a bike shop that doubles as a cafe, a vegetarian butcher (explanation below), a bakery, a fish shop and more. At each stop, Marthe arranged samples for the group. It was a well-paced tour with enough stops to sit and rest, enough chances to use a toilet and enough bites to keep your belly full. The ending is a class act, finishing in a historic pub-restaurant for a cheese board and a glass of port. I had guessed we would end with a glass of Dutch beer, but the port was equally enjoyable.
The vegetarian butcher was the best stop because an employee came out to explain their business to us. They are not opposed to eating meat. They just want folks to eat less meat. To do this, they craft meat substitutes that look and taste like the real things. We tried some meatballs in a soup as well as some bitterballen – both using soy to replace beef. The food was great but the passion of the employee made it so interesting. So that is how you have a vegetarian butcher – you make fake meat.
Bites and Stories is a young company (just one year old) with a lot of opportunity to round off some rough corners. But for what I was looking for, it was a perfect way to see Den Haag. Marthe was so nice and I encourage others to check it out. You can book on the Bites & Stories website or read more about their tour options (short, long or custom).