Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pricey brunch at The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe

Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe on Urbanspoon The idea of an authentic Dutch pancake place was intrigued me enough to give this place a try. The pannekoeks are bigger (about the size of a dinner plate), thinner, and a bit more porous than a regular North American pancake, reminiscent of Ethiopian injera. You get stuff on and/or in the pannekoek itself.
Other than pannekoeks, there are a few other Dutch things on the menu that might pique your interest, such as Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng), an ethnic food that apparently the Dutch do like very much. Sort of like Brits loving their curries, I suppose. There are also rusks (which our server described to us noobs as a slice of bread that's like a "hard crouton"), and bitter balls (deep fried stew).

The idea of the bitter balls intrigued me enough to try it the one time, and it basically is a deep fried ball of salty/savory stew. The outer crust is very thin but crunchy, and the inside is almost liquid. It is served with a bit of mustard for dipping. After tax, a standard 6-ball order works out to about $1 per ball, each of which is slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. A bit pricey for what is essentially stew with no bits of meat or anything -- just the somewhat thick, soupy part of a stew.
You could try it for the novelty, but in terms of value for your money, I'd say it's not worth it.

For pannekoeks, I tried the #20, the Dutch Wooden Shoe. It's the pannekoek with spek (salted bacon) in the pannekoek itself, three thin round slices of ham on top, and a heck of a lot of sauerkraut. Too much sauerkraut for my palate, which ruined the whole thing for me.
Quantity wise it's a medium meal, but at around $13 I feel it's pricey without being especially good. There's tastier, cheaper stuff out there for more bang for your buck and time spent.
Including one order of bitter balls and one coffee (unlimited refills, but really do you want to drink that much?) my brunch was around $24 after tax, before tip.

Service was pleasant, but run ragged once the place filled up, and it did fill up closer to noon, with a rather long line-up.
Decor feels like diner with ethnic touches. While you're waiting for food or service, you can browse the pictures on the wall and maybe spot the odd celebrity (such as Vikram Vij!).

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