I’d think carefully before agreeing to have my appendix removed by a trainee surgeon, or letting a rookie dentist dig around in my mouth with sharp instruments.
But offer me a meal at a bargain price and I’m happy to be a guinea pig for apprentice masterchefs and waitpersons.
Hotelschool, The Hague, has just opened a new building for its branch in Amsterdam. Mevrouw T and I signed up to be early customers.
Part of the charm of the experience was watching the young waitpersons (German, Irish and Dutch) do their best. They may still have more to learn about reciting a menu, slicing bread and pouring wine with one hand behind the back, but there was no doubt they were trying very hard. Their supervisor told us it was only their third evening on the job.
We made the booking at restaurant Le Debut online, and during the week were rewarded with three separate confirmatory phone calls (in English – the language of the school). We presume students were told to practise and practise often, and perhaps their calls were monitored for quality control purposes.
The Hotelschool is on Jan Evertsenstraat in Amsterdam West, a short bike ride through the Rembrandtpark from our place. As well as having the necessary lecture theatres and conference rooms, it also operates as a real hotel, Skotel, with twenty rooms (Single from EUR67, double from EUR82), for students to get hands-on experience in everything from reception to bed-making.
Le Debut Restaurant has only a dozen or so tables, though in fine weather sitting out on the terrace is an option.
The menu may be limited (one fish, one meat and one vegetarian main course option), but the simple food was cooked to perfection and very well presented.
We were pleased to hear that the emphasis is on fresh local, seasonal produce. The school has its own vegetable garden and students are encouraged to understand the source of the food. Our menu had an asparagus theme, and we agreed to take it with ‘matched’ wines. The red from Limburg, the southern Dutch province, was particularly impressive.
All in all, a very satisfactory experience. 10/10 for effort and for value! We’ll be back.
The bill for the menu (including an ‘amuse’, soup, two small entrees, main, dessert and coffee) came to just over EUR25 per person – extremely reasonable by Amsterdam standards. The wine bill total was an extra EUR50 – relatively expensive for eight modest glasses between the four of us, we thought. Next time we may choose a bottle from their list.