When the waiter at Greetje brought us our menus, he asked whether we’d prefer English or Dutch. Since we didn’t mind, he brought both. I opened the English first, and was bemused to read that we could eat ‘kitchen maid’s sorrow soup’ to start, and either a ‘Rolling Bitch’ or something that involved a ‘pigeon’s hangover’ for dessert. It was a bit like being in China, where translations are capable of going so awry it’s easiest to ignore the menus altogether. So I consulted the Dutch version to see if this would help. It didn’t. Apparently the old word for schorseneren (or salsify) is indeed keukenmeidverdriet, while there really is a sweet custardy dish known as ‘duivenkater’. I was intrigued.
Over a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Tourraine in the Loire valley, I ordered the stewing beef terrine, wrapped in smoked beef and served with shallot mayonnaise and a herb salad. It tasted wonderful on its own, but I thought it would taste even better with bread, so I asked for some. The rustic brown and white bread arrived immediately with butter and something that I thought at the time was beef dripping but, with hindsight, could’ve been goose fat with tiny flecks of meat left in it. Either way, I could probably have skipped the next two courses and spent the rest of the evening (if not the rest of my life) grazing on bread dipped in beef/duck/goose/something-gorgeously-salty-and-meaty dripping. My god it was good.
Next I ate roasted quail with fresh duck livers, steamed spinach and a creamy port sauce. I sucked the flesh off the quail bones and nearly melted along with the almost-raw livers that slid over my palate. My girl-date (it being Valentine’s weekend, it was tricky to go out for dinner with any boys) reported similarly excellent fare. Smoked duck breast with onion compote to start, followed by a puff-pastry pie filled with stewed beef, mash and red cabbage suffused with the wintry warmth of fragrant cloves. Totally old-fashioned comfort food. Incidentally, the restaurant is named after the owner’s mother. Greetje was clearly a very good cook.