The name Bite Me! is invitingly provocative for a restaurant and after stepping inside for lunch one sunny Saturday afternoon in Den Haag, I wondered if the menu and the restaurant itself would pique my curiosity as much as the name had.
We were not to be disappointed. As we slid into our soft leather seats my dining companion looked around and noted how minimalistic the interior was. “Have you ever heard the expression that beauty is often hidden within simplicity?” he asked. I hadn’t, but I could see his point. With the exception of one enormous print, the walls were bare and each warped, wooden table had a single rosebud, the petals just beginning to open, in a tiny glass vase.
“Beauty is often hidden within simplicity.”
When the menu arrived we could see that what Bite Me! really wanted was for us to taste the flavours of the world. All continents were represented in their international cuisine, from Canadian Northern Bay scallops and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls to Greek souvlaki served with tzaziki. Main dishes can be ordered in individual-size portions or in larger ‘to share’ sizes and each ‘Bites for 3’ appetiser we ordered was crying out to be divided among us.
When we finally settled on our main dishes it was Bite Me – Italia for my dining companion and Bite Me – Algeria for me. His truffle-flavoured risotto arrived inside a diminutive pot with hand-picked, sautéed mushrooms on the side and my Algerian-inspired dish arrived with yogurt-marinated lamb kebabs and the vegetable-flecked couscous salad piled high in a vibrant aqua bowl.
Berber influences on Algerian cuisine can easily been seen in the use of lamb, vegetables, and grains, and lamb kebab sandwiches are popular street food fare in Algeria’s cities.
The Algerian Civil War and sporadic, but continued unrest has taken a toll on the country’s tourism industry. The capital city, Algiers, is relatively safe but travel to southern and border regions is not recommended. It’s unfortunate, as Algeria is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Casbah of Algiers is a historical, walled citadel with glistening white buildings that slope up from the sea and Djémila is a mountain village near the northern coast where ancient and well-preserved Berbero-Roman ruins are located.
My lunch at Bite Me! was certainly packed with the flavours of Algeria, but for a decadent, daytime dessert we went in a different direction and chose the Chocolate Suicide, and what a sweet death it was.
Two perfectly formed balls of chocolate ice cream balanced on top of thin slices of starfruit and sat beside two small, molten chocolate cakes dusted with powdered sugar. As the name implies, these cakes were hot and when I made the first cut, dark, rich chocolate oozed from the centre. It swirled together with the raspberry coulis dotting the plate while fresh blackberries and tart raspberries cut into the sweetness of the chocolate.
In one lunch we travelled only by tasting the flavours of the world and will no doubt be back soon to continue our journey.
Address: Anna Paulownaplein 9, 2518 BK, Den Haag, the Netherlands
Telephone: +31 (0)70 360 7777
Opening Times: Seven days a week from noon until midnight, but the kitchen closes at 10:30pm.