SCHONE LEI | Rotterdam

Rating: 3 out of 5.

And just like that, hallelujah, we’re back.

The Dutch government decided to finally let restaurants serve customers so long as it was done outdoors, which could be unfair to businesses that don’t have the luxury of space but welcome news for those of us who’ve been yearning for a return to the old-fashioned idea of professionally prepared food served in an inspiring setting. After they announced this last week I immediately booked online to make sure we could celebrate the momentous occasion – and to finally wake up the tastebuds that have been dormant all this time.

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De Schone Lei, which appropriately translates to ‘clean slate’, was a concession to Teko who chose it as our lunch venue for today. Considering the local Rotterdam authorities thought it smart to bar cars from entering the park where the restaurant was located – but letting every other mode of transport in – it meant we had to park our trusty Fifi 20 minutes away and were consequently 20 minutes late.
After rushing unexpectedly, we were finally seated at a cozy table front and center of Kraling Lake, and with some relief settled on a simple but substantial meal. Owing to the brisk walk to get there and an incident with a staff member who chose to attend to people cutting ahead of us, I knew a glass of Malbec was needed, if only to wash down the burger (plus a bit of Teko’s club sandwich) and fries that were the most interesting thing on the unfussy menu. The sight of a beautiful lake ahead of us, though, along with the cool wind, intermittent sun, and quiet surroundings made for a gorgeous setting. It was a long time coming.

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Our first outdoor meal this year was also our first restaurant meal this year, and it took only four months to get there. May 1 isn’t just Labor Day for many people, it’s also the day when we’re a few more steps forward – or should I say back – to normalcy. May this be the start of a spring dawn that never fades.

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