Back in November, my parents and I celebrated my mum’s birthday at the French bistro Pastis in The Hague. Rumoured to be a favourite spot of Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, we had to give it a try.
Looking for a cosy yet stylish setting for a birthday meal, we were not disappointed. The layout replicates the Parisian salon down to every detail. From the Marie Antionette champaign glasses to the old fashioned cigarette stall behind the bar.
Entres – Scallops and Soup
For a starter, me and mum shared the ‘Coquilles St-Jaques Flambes au Pastis’. They are a traditional French scallop dish served in a white wine sauce and the white wine of choice was champagne. They were beautifully light and creamy with a hint of parsley in the sauce.
Dad had the ‘Soup Gratinee a L’oignon’, or as we call it at home, French onion soup. It came in the classic ceramic bowl that revived a nostalgia I didn’t even know I had. All of a sudden I was sitting at our kitchen table in my childhood home, fishing out a wonderfully cheesy crouton. I think you can tell that I swiped a taste of the soup and cheesy crouton goodness.
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to capture the first course before we tucked in, so you will have to conjure up an image of it for yourselves.
Plats – Heavenly Seafood
Now we come to the main event, the second course. I went for the redfish special, served with samphire. The fillet was so delicate, infused with the salty seasoning and samphire on the skin. This all balanced beautifully with the light white wine sauce and the potato dauphinoise we had on the side.
Mum and dad both had the ‘Magret De Canard a L’Orange’ — duck thinly sliced in an orange infused jus, served with bacon wrapped asparagus and pototo dauphinoise. I didn’t try any of this dish, apart from helping myself to the potatoes, so I can’t comment on it’s quality. Mum and dad both said it was really good.
Dessert – Delectably Sweet
Now this may be contraversial, but I don’t always do dessert. Sometimes I’m too full, nothing on the menu takes my fancy, or I’d rather finish off my wine with some cheese.
But since this was a special occasion, we thought we’d indulge. Also, they had ‘Tarte Au Citron’ on the menu, so I couldn’t resist.
Like all the food I ate that night, it was so rich in flavour. The meringue was very sweet, but the sharp lemon cut through. This balance of flavours paired wonderfully with my black coffee.
Mum has even less of a sweet tooth than me, but her cryptonite is ‘Creme Brulee’. Of course, being in a French restaurant, she had to try it. It had that perfect crack when you hit the caramalised coating with a spoon.
Dad had the ‘Tart Tintin’, a French pastry with caramlised apples layed ontop. Me and mum definitely had to sneak a bite.
After all that food, we were truely stuffed and satisfied. The restaurant has a perfectly cosy atmposhere, making you feel instanty at home. Mum agreed that we couldn’t have found anywhere better to spend her birthday. It was exactly the evening we were looking for.
The evening was made (unexpectedly) more special by the fact that it was the last night before lockdown – well when things could be open past 8 PM. It gave the whole evening a ‘last night in paradise’ atmosphere. It was painful and sweet all at the same time, and we stumbled off after drinking a lot of wine.