The two old ladies, holding arms and smiling at each other, seem to be talking happily while running their errands. Their small shopping bags are hanging from their arms. This bronze statue by Yvonne Keuls is called the Indishe Tante. Beyond its cultural and historical symbol, it represents perfectly the spirit of this neighbourhood of The Hague. A village within the city, where life is good and it is nice to grow old. Of course, it has a lot to do with Frederik Hendriklaan being one of the most charming and unique shopping areas of The Hague.
De Fred, as the locals call it, is one of the longest shopping street in the Netherlands. In fact, it is less than one kilometre long but it holds an enormous diversity of over a hundred shops, ranging from clothing and decoration to food and restaurants. However, what I most like about this street is how I can find everything to make an incredible meal, from appetizer to dessert, along with fantastic wines. Some shops are landmarks. Others are newcomers that have nothing to envy of their elders. However, if you are not in the mood for cooking, some excellent restaurants will do it for you.
So follow me on a culinary walk along the Fred.
Meza is located at 115a on Frederik Hendriklaan. This Libanese traiteur is a family business. Nabil and Anna Ghizzaoui opened the place earlier in 2015 with their two sons. After outgrowing two other stores in The Hague, Frederik Hendriklaan seemed to be the right place. Luckily for us! Their unique Lebanese specialties are prepared fresh daily in the open kitchen. Falafel, fattouche, kibbé, kafta, hummus — you name it. Everything is delicious and tempting. My favourite is definetely their tabboulé, loaded with fresh cut parsley and onions. Out of this world!
At number 234, Eet-idee Koot is emblematic of the Fred. The store has been standing there for 55 years. The Koot family started to sell fresh vegetables and fruit, mostly from local growers. Gilian and Simone Koot launched the traiteur side about 20 years ago. The tasteful meals are cooked daily by Simone, in the large kitchen located just around the corner from the shop, with fresh ingredients and no additives. Ready, Fresh, Natural, and Tasty is the motto of the owners. No wonder the shop has been elected three times as the best greengrocers in the Netherlands. This really is the place to get crisp, locally grown white asparagus or a savory mix of raw mushrooms when in season.
At number 222, Kalkman is the cheese specialist. The large selection of Dutch cheeses from local farms is exquisite, their choice of foreign cheeses so wide and appetizing. In November 2012, Kalkman was nominated for best cheese shop in the Netherlands and arrived 2nd in The Hague. Meaning I know where to go to get a nice cheese basket for a present or for myself!
My favorite wine shop is located at 251. Bosman Wijnkopers will delight your palate with carefully selected wines. Nico McGough, the owner, picks out wine growers who have a strong respect for their trade and who do it the natural way. His selection includes elegant bio wines and wonderful young and passionate wine makers. Everyone there is a true expert and will assist you with full attention. Tip: Don’t miss their wine tasting events.
For mouthwatering desserts and an extensive selection of breads, step a little further onto Aert van der Goesstraat at number 24. Originally from Brittany in France, Philippe Galerne is a Maître Patissier Hellegouarche and Lenôtre, two of the most renowned patisseries in Paris. With his wife Nancy, born in the Netherlands but educated in France, he opened the patisserie nine years ago. They started to bake bread soon after to please their customers who wanted fresh croissants and French baguettes. Quality, tradition, and savoir-faire are keywords for Pâtisserie Philippe Galerne. Sharing their traditional craftsmanship with a twist of innovation is very important to them. Merlin, their son, works with them and you can always see many apprentices baking in the open kitchen. When asked if they had another pâtisserie in town, Merlin Galerne replied: “No. Having only this location allows us to stay close to our customers, to tailor to their needs, and to take our time to adjust our offer depending on the season.” Well, the long line outside the patisserie every Saturday and Sunday mornings shows that they have succeeded. I love everything there, from their delightful cakes, fresh pies, and luscious macarons to their savory quiche, bread, and fluffy brioche. Oh! and their signature caramel salted butter éclair is so delicious!
To enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Fred, stop in on one of the many cafes along the main or side streets. Brasserie Meys and its sunny terrace is a great spot for a hot mint tea or enjoyable lunch. Delice is another of my favorite places for a quick bite in a cozy interior. Craving homemade ice cream? Go to Spijssalon at number 230b. Choosing from all the artisanal flavors will be tough!
For an exquisite dinner, try Naga Thai at number 264. The service is quick and friendly, the Thai food very tasty and the decor zen. Their Tom Kha Kai soup is so yummy. They also have set lunch menus and do takeaway.
Located at number 250, the tiny Indonesian restaurant Toko Sawa feels like home. Rated number five on the annual list of the 50 best Asian shops in the Netherlands, the place stands for fresh, flavorful, fragrant, and natural. The food is freshly cooked without artificial additives. Their Tahu dish is prepared every day following a family recipe. The cozy atmosphere and friendly service attracts visitors from all over the region and beyond. You can also just have a drink on the terrace or a takeaway.
Statenkwartier turned 100 years old in 2015 but I feel many more people from around the country and the world will fall under the spell of this old lady. In 2012, the Fred was named the most stylish street of the Netherlands. Again! So what are you waiting for? Come and see for yourself!
Pack Your Bags
The Hague (Den Haag) in the Netherlands enjoys a warm and temperate climate. There is a lot of rain, even during the drier months. The driest months to visit are April and May, with August enjoying the warmest temperatures and January the coldest. As one of the European Union member countries, the Netherlands currency is the Euro (EUR). The Netherlands is on European Standard Time (EST), one hour ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT).
The Hague is easily accessible from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), a short train journey takes 40 minutes to the Centraal Station. The Hague is also within easy reach of all other major cities in the Netherlands.
To get to Frederik Hendriklaan from Den Haag CS get on tram 17 (direction Statenkwartier) or citybus 24 (direction Kijkduin).
From Den Haag Hollands Spoor, take tram 11 (direction Scheveningen Haven – Strand) or tram 17 (direction Statenkwartier).
Some wonderful shops and restaurants are tucked away on the side streets. Bonbon Atelier Westerbeek is one of them. Stepping into this tiny chocolate maker and store will put all your senses on alert.
Brasserie Laartje, a cozy bistro on Antonie Duyckstraat, is a nice choice for a tasty lunch or a casual dinner. Michel, its Chef, uses fresh ingredients from local growers to create seasonal dishes that will delight your palate.