My restaurant review for Par Hasard in Almere (featured in the December 2018 issue of The Holland Times).

Smack in the middle of the country, Almere boasts impressive architecture and a city center replete with shops amidst a buzzing atmosphere. What it sorely lacks, however, is a food scene. Simply put, the restaurants aren’t that much to write home about. But no reason to lose hope
especially when a restaurant such as Par Hasard opens its doors and delights from the get-go.
Situated on Belfort Square, Par Hasard merges the iconic Belgian ‘frietkot’ (fries stand) concept with an inviting café atmosphere and relaxed southern ambiance. Robust wooden tables, a swanky and well-stocked bar, and classic chansons (I was humming along to Brel, Aznavour and Julien Clerc) almost fooled me into thinking I was in Brussels, or perhaps even Paris.
We find a cozy spot by the window, and it isn’t long before we’re sipping a proper glass of wine and perusing the menu. That our drinks arrive with a carafe of chilled water and two Picardie tumblers (common in France where it is part of the ‘couvert’, and a rarity in Holland) only adds to the charm, not to mention hospitality.
I swirl and sniff my Château Couronneau Bordeaux Supérieur (intense dark fruit, a hint of vanilla and oaky notes), taste (velvety smooth with balanced tannins) and decide it will be an excellent pairing with their grilled rib-eye. And it is. The smoky flavors of the perfectly cooked steak, strewn with delicate sea salt flakes and served with a creamy pepper sauce make this a match made in gourmet heaven. The frites are crisp, hot and salted just right. My table companion seems equally pleased as he tears into tender pork ribs glazed with a sweet-and-spicy sauce. Two espressos to round it all off and we float away content already looking forward to the next visit.
A week later we’re back. This time for the set three-course menu (an excellent value at 20.50, bonus points that it’s also available at lunch). I start with an autumnal salad of Belgian endive with pear, gorgonzola and a mild mustard dressing; continue with the aromatic ‘Limburgs Zuurvlees’ stew (the meat is so tender you can eat it with a spoon); and end with a luscious crème brûlée (though the crust misses that characteristic ‘crackle’ and the whipped cream is superfluous, the taste is sublime). Par Hasard has done it again and as the city’s motto so aptly says,  Het kan in Almere’ (It’s possible in Almere).


Published in: The Holland Times