The Hague, famous for its international tribunals, is notoriously overpriced due to the influx of expatriates, tourists, diplomats and legal types that visit or work in the local criminal courts. It can be tricky to find a meal that’s both affordable and delicious – there are plenty of good restaurants, but you have to be willing to shell out upwards of 20 Euros. Thankfully, the distinct international flavor of The Hague does lend itself to a few hidden gems, some run by local Dutch citizens and often by both other EU residents and non-European groups that have moved to the area.
If you’re sticking to the center of the city after stopping by the Mauritshuis to see “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” or taking in the impressive Binnenhof parliament building, a tiny haven awaits in the form of Michel (Oude Molstraat 17), a tiny French bakery and patisserie. Steps away from the beautiful but pricey Noordeinde, a central stretch of shops running through the city center, Michel is tucked away on Oude Molstraat, a gorgeous, quiet lane. Tucked between an old nunnery and a few low-key bars and shops, Michel is easy to miss, but one trip will secure its location in your memory.
A few Euros – which, for better or worse, is now the equivalent of a few US dollars – can get you a loaf of delicious fresh bread, from a basic pane Francese to more complex oatmeal or raisin loaves. A visit around the corner to the local grocery chain Albert Heijn, or one of the various cheese shops around the city, can round off the meal for around 5 Euros. Or better yet, try a mini roasted vegetable and goat cheese quiche, a savory croissant, or a slice of basic veggie or ham pizza, done Sicilian style in thick, rich slices. You’d also be remiss to not tuck away an extra Euro or two for dessert – the pain au chocolat are to die for.
The bakery rarely has more than a few visitors, so no need to worry about an extensive queue, and the staff is friendly and helpful. A word to the wise – pick up your breakfast or lunch soon after the bakery opens in the morning (around 9am) to get the best picks of the day, although the bakery is reliable for having plenty of croissants and treats well into the afternoon.
Photo taken from flickr Creative Commons, by kthreads.