It’s heartbreaking to see a chef past his prime, staggering about, boozy and red-eyed in his restaurant, and not giving a damn about his food.
I was determined to find a ‘traditional’ Dutch meal on my most recent visit to Amsterdam. I wanted to sit at the table of a Dutch granny who did things the right way: grinding and extruding rookworst sausage, patiently simmering potatoes to make her stamppot, slicing fresh apples for appeltaart…that sort of thing.
I researched the canon over an eight week ramp up, and one name that kept recurring was La Falote from chef Peter van der Linden. The restaurant (under van der Linden) opened 25 years ago and has consistently garnered good press.What are those people thinking?
La Falote brought the worst meal I’ve ever eaten in Europe to table.
A ‘soup of the day’ was little more than a can of Veg-All with some tomato sauce stirred into it before being heated in a microwave.
Stamppot and rookworst, one of the defining dishes of Dutch cuisine, was unimaginably bad.
When the sausage (rookworst) arrived at the table I was taken aback. The chef had clearly run by a discount grocer and purchased the cheapest kielbasa on offer for that evening’s service. The grind was so fine it had the consistency of pap, and the flavor was pure downmarket sausage factory. I sliced off a wafer thin sliver, sampled it then placed the sausage on a saucer and slid it as far away from me as possible.
Laughably, Chef van der Linden came by the table as he worked the room, noted the sausage, said nothing and kept on moving. Pitiable. A meatball on the same plate fared better and approached competency.
‘Peter’s Pen’ a skewer of jacked up, dried out pork loin was the sort of factory of horrors dish that you would expect from a TGI Fridays in America. Only not as good.Service was fine. A pair of high school girls worked the front of the house and they were nice and chatty. Having received no training they did not acknowledge the fact that 90% of the food ordered had went uneaten.
They wordlessly cleared the table filled with full plates. I expect they’ve done this many times.
As I attempted to slip out the door the boisterous chef collared me and had me join him at the bar for a tuneless ‘Home On The Range’ as he accompanied himself on accordion. Maybe this stab at musicianship serves a sort of salve for the chef’s failing in his kitchen?
It was embarrassing. Like that time Uncle Ralph got wasted and tried to make out with the coat check girl.I’ve eaten hundreds of meals in Amsterdam since the 90s and it stands to reason my luck would eventually run out and I’d get awful food. It happened at La Falote.
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