Restaurant Review: My Old Dutch (Holborn, London)

Poffertjes with ice cream and whipped cream

On the 6th of March it was my 19th birthday, and of course I had to celebrate this with my friends from uni. The night before my birthday we went out to Ministry of Sound, where Far East Movement was performing that night (and sadly it wasn’t that great…). On the day itself I took my friends out for dinner. This is something I’ve been doing every year for about 3 years now, as I think most people enjoy going out for dinner and it also gives you the opportunity to chat with each other. This time, it also gave my friends the opportunity to try some different food: Dutch food!

London, being as multicultural as it is, is actually home to a Dutch restaurant. This is something I still find quite surprising as the Dutch cuisine is not very famous and we don’t have many typically Dutch dishes. But we do have pancakes! This is also the main dish served at My Old Dutch, a Dutch-inspired restaurant with three locations around London (Holborn, Chelsea and Kensington). We went to the one in Holborn, as this is only a short tube ride away from our uni. A while back I also went to the one in Chelsea with a friend, so I more or less knew what to expect from the restaurant.

As I said, My Old Dutch serve pancakes. Pancakes for dinner? Yes, pancakes for dinner. In The Netherlands, we quite regularly eat pancakes for dinner (or at least in my family we do, and I think other families do too). At My Old Dutch the pancakes are Dutch, which means they are very big, the size of a big plate. Hence, one pancake is very likely to fill you up (and if not, don’t worry – they have desserts too!). The menu is quite varied, with a choice of sweet and savoury pancakes. In addition to pancakes, they also serve poffertjes (Dutch mini, puffy ‘pancakes’), various starters, salads and desserts. Not the whole menu is traditionally Dutch, I believe they also serve American-style pancakes, but it has certainly been inspired by Dutch culinary tradition.

Some of the pancakes. Yes they do sometimes look like pizzas but they really are pancakes! (sorry about the quality/strange angle of the photograph, it was taken by my friend and unfortunately I don't have any better ones)

As a starter we ordered ‘bitterballen’ (Dutch meat-ragout balls) and ‘kaasballen’ (fried cheese balls). These were both very good, although the spiciness of the mustard to go with the bitterballen surprised some of my friends. Following this everyone had a pancake as a main course. We all had different pancakes, and I had a pancake topped with a compote of berries and scoops of vanilla ice cream. It was a delicious pancake, and in fact so large that I could not finish it! The only thing I was missing was a bottle of ‘stroop’ (syrup) on the table. I was surprised that we did not get this with our pancakes as there had been one on the table in the Chelsea restaurant. After the pancakes some of us weren’t full yet (there are a couple of big eaters, haha) and had a dessert. I shared Dutch apple pie with one of my friends. I was surprised that this apple pie did actually taste like a Dutch one does, although I personally would have liked it even more if there had been raisins in it as well. Some of the others shared plates of ‘poffertjes’ with ice cream and chocolate sauce and they told me they really enjoyed it!

The murals add to the atmosphere, although they do not remind me of Dutch people/The Netherlands.

All in all we enjoyed our night at the restaurant and our Dutch-style meal. The interior is also inspired by The Netherlands. Even the plates our pancakes were served on had Dutch drawings of the seasons on them. I think the atmosphere of the restaurant is best in the upstairs area. We were brought to the basement and the atmosphere there was not as nice as it was rather massive, and the lamps above our table did not work so it was fairly dark.

I like:
- The restaurant provides me with a taste of home in London.
- The pancakes are the way you would find them in a Dutch pancake restaurant – very big!
- They serve some other Dutch foods such as bitterballen and poffertjes.
- Good value for money – a pancake costs around 8 or 9 pounds, depending on the topping you choose.
- My Old Dutch have a 10% discount for students! So don’t forget to take your student card.

I less like:
- The atmosphere could have been better – the lights need to be fixed.
- There was no ‘stroop’ on the table, something you find in every single Dutch pancake restaurant! I suggest putting a bottle of stroop and a can of sugar on the table so guests can add this to their pancake.
- The waitress added the ‘optional’ service to my bill without asking. Now I was happy to pay the service but if the service had been bad I would not have wanted to pay extra. If a service charge it is added to my bill without asking I feel like I cannot refuse and simply have to pay it.
- The online reservation system does not seem to work very well. I made an online reservation, and even received an email the day before reminding me of my reservation, so I assumed everything had worked out. However, when I came into the restaurant they only had a hand written system and my reservation was not noted down. I came in with 8 people and was lucky it wasn’t busy and we got a table immediately, but imagine if this happens when it is really busy! So the restaurant needs to either link their reservation systems or discard one of them to avoid problems.

All in all, I would visit My Old Dutch again and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a slightly unique meal with a taste of The Netherlands.

My Old Dutch Holborn can be found at:
131-132 High Holborn

More information can be found on their website: www.myolddutch.com

x Loes


Recommended Blog: The Londoner

From now on I will regularly share the blogs I enjoy reading, so that you can start following these lovely bloggers too!

My first recommendation is The Londoner. Rose, a girl currently living in London, is the person behind this blog. As the name already suggests, a lot of her posts are in someway related to London. This is also the reason I started following her blog. I think I found her blog about a year ago when I was looking for people blogging from/about London. Rose always has some great tips when it comes to things to do in London! And although her restaurant suggestions are a little too expensive for me it is always fun to look at the gorgeous pictures she takes of the food.
I enjoy following The Londoner because Rose's writing style is really nice, it's laid back but professional as well. Furthermore she always includes great pictures, usually ones she took herself, in her posts. Of course Rose also leaves London once in a while, and then she will blog about her adventures elsewhere!

So if you love London and lifestyle blogs, have a look at www.thelondoner.me! (:

Are there any blogs you would like to recommend to me?

(P.S. I wanted to include a photo in this post but I couldn't save and upload any pictures from The Londoner, so I'm sorry it looks so boring!)


Summer Holiday: Crete

The view from our room!

Recently it’s been very, very warm here in The Netherlands! But I was already used to hot weather because I spent a week in Crete, Greece from the 8th to the 15th of August.

Back at the beginning of the year Kim and I decided that we wanted to go on a sunny holiday together this summer, and if we have a good plan we carry it out! So, at the beginning of April, we booked our holiday to Agios Nikolaos, one of the larger towns on the Greek island of Crete. We found a hotel located right by sea, which offered all inclusive for a relatively low price so we decided to book this.

As we didn’t want to waste any of the days we had paid for we decided to take the earliest flight (6:30 am) to Heraklion. Because we would have to leave for the airport at around 4:15 I decided to stay at Kim’s house the day before we left. In the early hours of Wednesday Kim’s dad brought us to Amsterdam airport and our holiday started! Eventually we arrived at our hotel at around 14:00, after a bus ride of about 1 ½ hours from Heraklion.

Sunrise seen from our room

 The view from our room in Hotel Coral was amazing! We had purposely booked seaview, which was only a few euros more expensive, because we’d heard it would be great. And it was! The bay where Agios Nikolaos is located is called Mirabello, which is Italian (dating from the Venetians who were once on Crete) for ‘beautiful view’. I definitely agree with this name! We could see the sea from our room, with mountains surrounding it. We also saw boats (and sometimes cruise ships) in the harbour of the town.

We spent most of our days relaxing. Most days we woke up at around 8, had breakfast and then went to the pool or beach (although it was mostly the pool because you had to pay for the beds on the beach unfortunately). Between 13:00 and 14:00 we would have lunch, and then spend the rest of our day lying by the pool again. Then at around 18:00 we would go back to our room and get ready for dinner, which started at 18:30. After dinner we would walk to the centre of Agios Nikolaos and then we would spend the rest of the night on our balcony playing games such as Yahtzee. We didn’t get bored for a single moment.

On the Jeep Safari. This was a normal road but we also did a lot of off-road driving between the olive trees!

 The only day we didn’t spend by the pool was the day we went on a Jeep Safari. We had booked our holiday with Dutch tour operator Sunweb. They offered several excursions and we chose the Jeep Safari because all other excursions either involved boats (Kim didn’t want to go on a boat due to a bad experience) or they left really early (one of them left the hotel at 4:00 am and would only return at midnight!), and because it just appealed to us. The day started at 8:00 am when a crazy Greek driver took us and 4 other guests to Chersonissos. At one point he was driving 110 km/h where 50 was allowed – oh, and he was on the phone… But eventually we arrived safely! Chersonissos was the starting point of the jeep safari, Kim and I both don’t have a drivers license so we were grouped with 2 Dutch guys who both did have a drivers license. With about 12 jeeps in a row we drove through Eastern Crete, mainly surrounded by olive trees. My highlight to this day was the stop at the other side of the island, where we had some time to swim in the Libyan Sea! The water was lovely and it was really nice to be able to rinse all the dust, which had accumulated over the course of the day, off our skin and from our hair.

By the harbour of Agios Nikolaos. 

At the end of our stay in Agios Nikolaos we also did a little bit of shopping, for souvenirs! Most of the shops we saw in the town were souvenir shops and thus very much aimed at tourists. But some of them were really nice. For instance, there was one which sold all kinds of soaps and other beauty products. There were also a lot of shops selling olive oil, herbs and the like. I bought quite a few souvenirs: a present box with a small bottle of olive oil, a small bottle of ouzo (Greek alcoholic drink) and different kinds of herbs (such as a mix for tzatziki) for my parents, a bottle opener (wherever we go, my brother and I always buy a bottle opener for our parents, it’s become a tradition!), acacia honey, three bracelets and vanilla scented olive oil scrub soap for myself, a pack of cards and a magnet of Poseidon for my brother and a bar of olive oil soap for Annabell and Eline. I really enjoy shopping for souvenirs!

Mocktail (Double Rainbow - Orange juice, lemon juice and grenadine) and cocktail (Strawberry Daiquiri) on the last night. Both were delicious!

On Wednesday the 15th we had to go back home, but neither of us really wanted to go! Luckily we had a late flight, at 21:00, so we still had the whole day in our hotel. We spent this day by the pool until the bus came to pick us up at 17:30.

All in all we both had a great holiday and I really want to go back to Crete sometime!

xx Loes

P.S. Keep up to date with my life (especially when I move to London in 3 weeks time!) by following me on instagram: @Loeszieee


Travel: 5 places to visit in Europe

There are so many places in Europe I haven't seen yet, I would really love to spend a month (or more!) travelling through our continent sometime, seeing all its beauty. Of course there are many cities I would still love to visit (number 1 is definitely Paris), but Europe also has lots of impressive nature that I think is really worth a visit. Here is a list of places in Europe I'd love to visit some time:

1. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

I've seen quite a few pictures of the Plitvice lakes and they look amazing! The water is so clear and blue, surrounded by a lot of green. And I generally really like waterfalls, and as you can see there are lots at Plitvice.

2. Preikestolen, Norway

Okay, I am a little scared of heights - but I do love the view! I really want to visit the fjords of Norway sometime, and then I definitely don't want to miss the Preikestolen, from which you have an amazing view over the fjord.

3. Gorges du Verdon, France

As you might have guessed I like water, haha! I have wanted to see the Gorges du Verdon for a few years now, so I hope there will be an opportunity sometime soon. Again the clear blue water impresses me, in combination with the deep canyons. Must be amazing to take a boat through this canyon!

4. El Teide, Tenerife

The whole of Tenerife seems very impressive, with its volcanic landscape. But I am especially interested in the volcano - El Teide. A few years ago I walked on the Etna (Sicily), which was very impressive and I would definitely like to walk on another volcano.

5. Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland

And another one with a lot of water! Again, the whole of Iceland attracts me and I would like to make a  road trip over the island sometime. The many waterfalls are something I would especially like to see, such as this one, the Gullfoss. Waterfalls are just so spectacular!

I am definitely thinking of making a trip by train through Europe to see some of the things on my list (obviously I won't be able to get to Tenerife or Iceland by train), but first I have to find a likeminded person who will come with me!

Which places in Europe would you like to visit?

x Loes


Shopping: H&M

On Saturday I had to go to the city centre to get some watershoes (for my holidays in Crete - the 'beach'  in front of the hotel is a pebble/rock beach) and a cd drive (I can finally play Sims 3 now!) for my computer - but when my mom suggested passing by the H&M I couldn't say no. And of course I bought a few items from the new collection! (Unfortunately I already threw away the receipt so I don't remember the prices of all the items)

A reddish tanktop with a heart with skulls in it. I love this colour, and it seems to be a trend this autumn, so I'm happy!
I think this one costed 9.95 euros.

A greenish/yellowish (what is it?) tanktop with an owl (I love owls!). As you can see it is longer at the back and it is also kind of oversized, mostly at the back. I don't remember the price of this one.

A dark purple cardigan, again a colour I really like for autumn/winter. I think this one costed 19.95 euros.

Not a very clear photograph, but these are dark skinny/stretchy jeans (they are very tight around the legs, but I like that!) These were 19.95 euros.

A gray pencilcase with hearts! So cute, don't you think? I really needed a new pencilcase for uni but I didn't want to get a boring one, so I am glad I found this! This was 2.95 euros.

In August I am going shopping in Antwerp with my mom, a city I've wanted to go to for a very long time because I've heard there are very nice shops. Do you have any tips - certain streets or even shops I should really go to?

x Loes


Good news!

Okay it's not really 'news' because it's not recent, but I didn't tell you yet: I passed my IB exams!!

Me with the flag - in The Netherlands it is a tradition to hang out the Dutch flag with your schoolbag when you've passed your exams and as a real Dutchie I stuck to this tradition!

On the 5th of July (more than 2 weeks ago already) it was International Baccalaureate Results Day, the day that   we finally (after 1 1/2 months of waiting) got our results. I was really nervous, because I needed certain grades to get into my first choice university (in the UK it is normal for universities to give you a conditional offer based on grades, and if you don't get these grades you don't get in) and I was really scared I didn't get these grades! But in the end it turned out I was nervous for nothing. These are my grades for each subject (grades are from 1 - 7, where 4 = satisfactory, 5 = good, 6 = very good, 7 = excellent, except for TOK and EE grades which are from A - E (if I remember correctly) where A is best; Higher Level (HL) subjects are slightly harder than Standard Level (SL) subjects and A1 languages are for native speakers, B languages are for when you are still learning the language, but I think the B course aims to make students near-native by the end of the course):

Dutch A1 HL - 7
Spanish B HL - 7
English A1 HL - 6 (pheeew really thought I was going to get a 5 and I needed the 6 for uni!)
Biology SL - 7
Geography SL - 7
Mathematics SL - 6

Theory of Knowledge (kind of Philosophy-style course): A
Extended Essay in English A1 - C

Total: 42 points (45 is the maximum, 42 from the 6 subjects and 3 bonus points from TOK and EE, I got 2 bonus points)

I am really really happy with my grades, the only grade I could possibly be 'disappointed' about is the C for my Extended Essay (my supervisor always said it was really good and I did spend quite a lot of time working on it...) - but that doesn't really matter.

This means that I'll be starting the BA Hispanic Studies and Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London in September - which means that I'll be blogging from London from then on (exciting right?!).

For now I am going to enjoy the 2 months of holiday I have left, after IB I really needed a loooong holiday - not having to think about any homework/tests/etc. is such a good feeling!

Did you also take final exams this year? How did they go?


Citytrip: Prague

Last week I went on my first holiday without parents. Eline and I spent 5 days (Monday 9 July - Friday 13 July) in Prague! It was an amazing week, mostly filled with sightseeing as we both wanted to see as much as possible of the city.

Our bed!

We arrived at our hotel at around 13:00 on Monday, and luckily our room was ready so we left our suitcases there. The hotel was amazing, we stayed in the Red and Blue Design Hotel, all rooms there have either a blue or a red theme. From the hotel it took about 15 minutes to walk to the Charles Bridge, so we spent Monday afternoon exploring the city.

Trdelnik.. omnomnom (:

On Tuesday the real sightseeing started, this was also the day our 4 day Prague Card started. In the morning we took a 2 hour bus tour through the city, which we got for free with our Prague Card! The bus took us through the most important parts of the city and we were given half an hour to walk around Prague Castle. As half an hour is by far not enough to see the highlights of Prague Castle we decided to just stroll around a bit and come back on Wednesday. After the city tour we went to the Old Town Square where we ate Trdelnik, a sweet bread which is baked on a rod. We then climbed the tower of the Old Town Hall, from which we had a gorgeous view over the city. This is also the tower at which the Astronomical Clock is located, so at 14:00 we went down to watch the Apostles coming by (this happens every hour). After this we walked through the Old Town to Josefov, the Jewish Quarter. We decided to not visit the Jewish museum and cemetery as this is quite expensive and we were on a budget trip after all! I do really want to see the museum sometime so I have a reason to come back to Prague. Instead we went to the St. Agnes Convent, to which we got free entry with our Prague Card. The building was impressive and there is an exhibition of Medieval art which I found quite interesting although I am not a huge fan of art.

The view from the tower of the Old Town Hall

Wednesday was another busy day. We woke up and left the hotel early as we wanted to walk up to Prague Castle before it got too hot and busy (it was a very warm week!). At 10:00 we watched the changing of the guards, and it was already quite busy. We then went into Prague Castle where we got free admission to the St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George's Basilica, the Golden Lane and the Old Royal Palace. I especially found the St. Vitus Cathedral very impressive - it is so big and elaborately decorated, especially the windows. Around noon we walked back down for lunch and a bit of a rest. Wednesday afternoon we took the funicular up Petrin Hill, which was very close to our hotel. I had heard of Petrin Hill in 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Kundera but it was very different from how I imagined it to be. It is a lot larger than I thought it would be. We walked around at the top (we didn't go up the small Eiffel Tower as you had to pay for this and it was very busy), and after enjoying a gorgeous view of the city we slowly walked back down.

In the St. Vitus Cathedral, look at the windows, they are so elaborately decorated!

On Thursday we walked to Vysehrad (we only used public transport to get from the airport to the hotel and back!) where we saw the oldest round building of Prague, the rotunda of St. Martin. We also went into the casemates, in which there is a big vault in which some of the original statues from the Charles Bridge are kept. These statues date from around 1700 so they had to be then of the bridge to prevent them from breaking/wearing. As we walked back down to the city I felt sick - which really disappointed me! For this reason I enjoyed this day a lot less than the previous ones. We then went to a metro station (of which I forgot the name) which, according to Eline's guide book, has one of the longest escalators in Europe - of course we had to go see this with our own eyes! We looked down the escalator and it definitely was very, very deep. After this we went to the Dvorak Museum, about Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, which unfortunately I couldn't enjoy very much because I was still feeling sick. But the museum building was really, really nice! We then slowly strolled back to the hotel.

St. Martin's Rotunda in Vysehrad

On our last day (Friday the 13th.... I tripped on the street and cut open my knees - ouch, nice souvenir!) we went to the Wallenstein Palace, which houses the Czech Senate and art exhibitions. We had a look at the exhibition of works by Schikaneder (who I had never heard of before but that doesn't matter) and then walked around the gardens. We spent the afternoon doing the most cliche thing you can do while on holidays: souvenir shopping! I love shopping for souvenirs haha. I always get my parents a bottle opener so of course I got them one from Prague as well, this time with a corkscrew and a small knife. For my dad I got a small bottle of Absinth, a typical Czech alcoholic drink with 70(!!!)% alcohol. I got my brother a beer glass (this was originally Eline's idea actually), as he has just turned 16 and really likes beer - it says 'Czech me out'. For my my mom I got a box of chocolates with pictures of Prague on the wrappers. And of course I couldn't forget myself - I bought myself a little notebook with a picture of the Old Town Square.

At the Wallenstein Palace

All in all we had a great trip, I really enjoyed it and I really want to go on a city trip with Eline again - she's a great companion if you want to see a lot (and of course she's generally a great companion)! (: And actually we didn't spend that much money, during the trip I spent less than 100 euros and that includes dinner, lunch, souvenirs, transport to and from the hotel and the odd entrance fee we had to pay. This was also thanks to Eline's discovery of a mall very close to our hotel, which has both a Tesco hypermarket (yes there is Tesco in Czech Republic! Why not in The Netherlands?) and a food court! We ate at the food court 3 times, where you could get a main course, drink and dessert for less than 10 euros (and it was generally good food!). For the trip itself (4 nights, including breakfast, return flight and a 4 day Prague card) we payed around 250 euro per person so I think we were very lucky!

Have you ever been to Prague?

P.S. All photographs were taken by me, please do not use them without my permission!