A nice surprise and a disapointment in Maastricht
Just spent a weekend in Maastricht, and can highly recommend the town. It is beautiful, very laid back, has lots of nice pubs/bars/cafes, and also has a very good reputation for food.
We arrived late Friday night and stayed in Hotel Kind of Blue (the owner is a BIG Miles Davis fan). This is more a B&B and we liked it a lot. Based on the advice of friends and the hotel owner, we had dinner at Gio's. Gio's is an Italian restaurant where you cannot reserve before hand, but go to directly or call and give your mobile number so that they can call you when a table is free. This is an old-fashioned Italian without a menu and a limited wine choice (we were told that the house red was a good fit, and it was). The courses keep coming, and are served off big platters. The food was excellent, the waiters friendly, and the overall atmosphere very nice. At €100 for two persons, definitely worth a visit.
For Saturday we decided to splurge to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, and decided to go to Toine Hermsen, one of the best restaurants in The Netherlands. While the food was excellent, the overall service was the worst I have ever experienced in this type of top-level restaurant. It seemed that the whole front-end was having a bad day, with no coordination between the different people, but the memories that stick out include:
1) It seemed that not going for the standard wine menu was very uncommon, and while the sommelier seemed to have practiced her "story" for the individual wines within the wine menu, her knowledge of the rest of the wine list seemed to be non-existent, and she was not able to give any sensible advice regarding a white and a red to go with the menu ("all our Bordeaux go well with the lamb dish"). After we had ordered the wine, it then took numerous requests before the bottle was opened and anything was poured into a glass, and we were almost tempted to go open the bottle ourselves.
2) One of the courses was frog legs, and when it was served the plates looked very nice but my wife's plate had food-rests on one side of the plate. It looked strange, but we did not directly comment it. A moment later my wife noticed that she had two frog legs while I had three. Our hypotheses therefore was that one frog-leg had somehow slid off the plate leaving a trail of debris along it path. We raised this with a waiter, who said he would take it up with the kitchen staff. We never heard anything back............
3) It was getting late, our corner of the restaurant was emptying, and we decided to pay the bill. Getting the bill was not a problem, but then getting anybody to come pick up the credit card was impossible (in spite of different people walking back and forth). Finally, we decided to get up and go to the cash register (something that I have up to now only have had to do in "dives". When we noted our surprise at the difficulty in paying, the response was to start blaming each other for who had the responsibility (very unprofessional....).
All in all, while the food was good the service was at a level that the probability of coming back in close to zero. Luckily Maastricht has many other good choices for our next visit.