Review: Cafe Rembrandt

Maintaining a warm and inviting space

The lunch menu offers a selection of broodjes, or sandwiches. Another member of my dining crew selected the broodje gezond, a baguette piled high with Gouda, cucumber, egg, tomato, onion and perhaps too much grated lettuce (mixed greens would make it twice as good). It's a salad on a roll. While difficult to maneuver, the gezond was refreshing and light—a good way to combat the tendency to order heavy, greasy fare in a pubby atmosphere. It comes with tempting and sinful skinny fries, though, so you'll still need some fight in you.

The fried goat cheese salad places golden chèvre medallions atop mixed greens, pine nuts and tomatoes. Honey-thyme dressing comes on the side for dipping or drizzling, and that's a good thing. To pre-drizzle would risk soaking the crisp coating of the cheese. The tartness of the chèvre is fairly well-balanced by the frying process. While the disks aren't oily, their creaminess in combination with the added bit of fat from frying cuts that characteristic goat bite ever so slightly. While the salad is tasty, select it for a shared appetizer unless you're a die-hard goat cheese fan.

As far as finishing moves, the Dutch have two killers. First, the Dutch apple pie. It's a classic that reaches an impressive four or so inches in height. The crust is flaky in parts and dense in others, but supports the apple, cinnamon and raisin innards well. The tartness of the apples (Granny Smith, as close a match as Smeink can find to the apples of his homeland) is a nice change-up from the sweet apple pies using golden delicious that many restaurants serve. Another difference is the shredded filling. When you're used to chunky apple slices in your pie, it's a shock at first, but who are we to argue with a Dutch tradition that perks up the end of a meal?

Rembrandt's "Watch" is over pints and tasty bites.
Tom Jenkins
Rembrandt's "Watch" is over pints and tasty bites.

Details

Beef carpaccio $5.50

Meatballs $4.50

Cheese soufflés $4.50

French onion soup $4.50

Broodje gezond $5.50

Fish and chips $9.50

Goat cheese salad $7.50

Beef sateh $14.50

Grilled chicken $13.50

Dutch apple pie $3.50

Arretjes cake $2.50

Closed Location

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The dessert that truly slayed us was the arretjes cake. Two dense triangles of Dutch cocoa, eggs, butter and crumbled butter biscuits (a close relative would be shortbread) sounds like a heavy treat but in fact, the cake was light, almost airy, with a sweetness that didn't linger like too rich chocolate tortes, of which we can only eat a single bite. Smeink shared that the arretjes is a sweet treat that people unable to afford an oven could make (the only heat needed was to melt the butter). A recipe of his grandmother's, this Dutch treasure needs no translation.

For six months now, Smeink says Café Rembrandt has seen a steady increase in business, which is good. I can honestly say it deserves it. The café is more than a restaurant or a bar, it's a pleasant hub. Even on a slow day, the place doesn't feel like a cavernous, empty spot. It maintains warmth and an inviting nature, obviously reflected from Smeink himself. Good rations, ample bar stools, free parking and friendly service can mean good things in Dallas. What Café Rembrandt needs now are regulars.

703 McKinney Ave., 214-468-0073. Open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. $$

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