In the Netherlands, spontaneous dining is almost impossible especially if you are looking for good food on a nice location. In my almost 3 years of living here and after several blog posts, my readers are already familiar with my regular complaints about this lack of eating culture in the Netherlands.
It’s probably not the best idea to start a food post with a rant (which I seldom do when writing about Dutch restaurants) but I had encountered so many hassles looking for a decent place to eat in Holland. So forgive me.
Last Saturday afternoon was no exception. I had a spur-of-the-moment urge to have a high tea at 3 in the afternoon in Rotterdam. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and it would have been a waste to spend it sitting behind a computer. But of course this spontaneous behavior is unacceptable in Holland. It isn’t easy like finding a good rum bar in Jamaica or trendy hostels in New York. You need to be seriously organized! You have to plan your day ahead and reserve for tables as early as two days before. That is one thing I’ve yet to accustomed myself with in living in the Netherlands.
So when we get this difficulty of booking for a last-minute dinner, or in this case high tea, we turn to tourist places. You might have a big crowd and you might get disappointed but at least you get a table. We went to Hotel New York in Rotterdam. Fortunately we were not disappointed although there was a big crowd in Hotel New York, it was not an annoying crowd. All the window seats were reserved and we only have one hour and a half till high tea time closes.
A short note about Hotel New York
Hotel New York is the former base office of the Holland America Line in Rotterdam. It is housed in this beautiful old Dutch building, the last of its kind standing in this part of the Port of Rotterdam. They retained the original interior and exterior of the old office with of course a little bit improvement here and there. Inside you can still see the elevated floors where they used to put the chairs for people waiting for their ships. On the first floor the restaurant is located while the rest of the building was turned into a hotel with ridiculously high price. You can attribute this very expensive price to the breath-taking view of the Rotterdam port and the Rotterdam skyline seen from the rooms of Hotel New York. During sunset and in the evening, the view is well worthy of the cost of staying here.
The Dutch have a sweet tooth judging from all the sweet food that is available and being produced by this country. So it’s no surprise that the high tea area of New York Hotel was full to the brim. Full with middle-aged ladies. I have never seen so many middle-aged and old Dutch ladies in one room enjoying each others company. I though they’d rather spend their afternoons sitting at home, drinking home-made coffee to save on money. The number of ladies vs men also made R uncomfortable at first. Until of course the sweets arrived.
It took a while before our pastry tray was served. Quite surprisingly, the waiter apologized for the delay (Dutch waiters are always right, they hardly say sorry). Our order costs 16,50 per person. Basically with that you get three different kinds of pastry, a sweet bread with butter and jam, four small pieces of candies and chocolates plus a slice of salmon and egg sandwich. Meager if you will ask me. But with unlimited tea of your choice.
I went for good old Jasmin tea while R tried the Blue Mountain Tea which I must admit made me want to exchange with him because of its delicious smell. Naturally, because I couldn’t sit in a restaurant without alcohol on hand, I also ordered a glass of Prosecco, well two glasses of Prosecco which were not at all bad. Especially when the weather calls for a bottle of sparkling wine.
I must also say that the bread and macaroons were very appetizing, especially the macaroons. It was moist and crunchy at the same time unlike the ones I bought from Mockamore which were dry and too sweet. The other sweets on that tray were forgettable.
The high tea room
I did not have much expectations about Hotel New York because of it being touristy. But I was quite impressed by the high tea room mainly because of the large and rather old chandelier adorning the ceiling. Without it, the ceiling would look drab because of the large pipes which Hotel New York doesn’t seem to want to hide.
They also have those cute yellow lamp shades in each table which adds a bit more charm to the place. Unfortunately, like all most restaurants in the Netherlands, it was very crowded especially on a Saturday afternoon. The seats and tables were placed very near each other, obviously to maximize the accommodation of diners while cramping you in a very small space where you would bump to the next person the moment you move.
Despite this and the very short time (1 hour and a half) that we stayed there, R and I definitely enjoyed. Had it not been for the cold wind, we would have stayed longer to admire the view in the bay side. Rotterdam can be beautiful if seen from certain locations.