Friday, April 26, 2013

Lunch in Amsterdam Oud-West with the boys and a reminder about customer service in the Netherlands

It has been almost a year since Herr Philippe and I met up for dinner at Trouw Restaurant in Amsterdam. I can still recall the lovely dinner we had where I ordered this raw vegetable plate with glorious anchovies sauce on the side. That was sooooooooo good, I can still remember vividly how it tasted.

Anyway, it was time to meet up again so we decided to have lunch, together with his friend who just arrived from Orlando, USA. Let’s call him Mr. Orlando.

Café Bax Lunch

We had lunch at Café Bax in Amsterdam Oud-West, nearby where Herr Philippe lives. They both ordered the typically Dutch sandwich meal—Uitsmijter which reminds me of the Francesinha sandwich in Porto except that the uitsmijter is not swimming in tomato and beer sauce. I went for the goat’s cheese salad which was divine.

My goat cheese salad. 4 stars out of 5.

The Dutch uitsmijter - sandwich bread with ham or bacon and sunny side up eggs and melted Gouda cheese on top.

The cool painted toilet doors. Orlando kept telling us that he felt like someone is watching him. Yes my dear, Prince Claus and Queen Bea are watching you! And the bar man as well, so behave =)

Customer service you say?

Honestly, I did not expect for the food to be good here but it was pretty good! Mr. Orlando and Her Philippe on the other hand complained about their egg yolks. They want it fully cooked and Philippe even had to remind the waiter that it should be well cooked (in Dutch: gaar, doorgekookt which I even repeated to the waiter as well), but still, the eggs came back half cooked, which most people I understand prefer them this way. Well I do anyway.

So the eggs were returned to the kitchen... and when they came back for the second time around they were still soft and watery????

I told Mr. Orlando that I have given up the customer service fight in the Netherlands. The Dutch, and let me just generalise—Europeans, have a different idea of customer service. It really has nothing to do with how customer service is observed in America, in Asia and in other parts of the globe. Our idea of customer service does not exist here.

In Europe, you do not demand from a waiter or ask favours, you just order. OK? Because if you do, you will just end up frustrated, and life is too short and lovely to nitpick about this (at least in my opinion).

This is also the reason why gratuities are not very popular here. The waiters do not work for tips, they are paid with a salary, just like you and me working for a company, and with benefits as well.

Coffee, tea and moi

After lunch we went back to Philippe’s flat for some strong espresso, cappuccino and tea. And more chatting.

They are leaving for Italy (Pisa – Florence – Cinque Terre – Portovenere – Santa Margherita Ligure – Portofino) and Philippe wanted to know if I can help him with tips about this trip since I have been there several years ago. Well, I drafted for them the itinerary I just mentioned =)

The boys are now in Bella Italia and are enjoying much the Ligurian coast!

A lovely lunch again in Amsterdam, with lovely friends.

Visit Period: April 2013
Destination: Amsterdam Oud-West, The Netherlands

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