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

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