What is Zebedeus?
Zebedeus is a wonderfully inviting cosy little restaurant nestled into an old church close to the Hague city centre. As much as I like to explore for new places I make Zebedeus my restaurant of choice at least once on every visit to The Hague thanks to a compelling combination of outstanding service, gluten free safety, delicious dishes and a warm, relaxing environment in which to enjoy eating.
Great for business dinners, great for romantic couples or meetings with friends and perhaps best of all, a truly welcoming place for eating solo. Whilst small inside the tables are spaced well apart allowing for easy conversation at normal speaking volumes. The intimate lighting, absence of loud music, smart and comfortable decor and variety of table sizes help make it a pleasure to dine here.
Zebedeus Free From Menu
Zebedeus is one very few restaurants in The Hague to offer a menu explicitly indicating gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options in both Dutch and English. Even better, this menu is offered online. Whilst this is a common feature in some other countries and cities I found it to be vanishingly rare in The Hague. Most restaurants feature only a line such as “tell your server if you have an allergy” message which provides no information about whether it is safe to eat there or what might be available if you do.
At the time of writing and my most recent visit none of the Mains dishes are indicated as gluten free but several *are* available gluten free with simple, ready modifications. For example, I sampled a North Sea Fish dish which normally comes with pearl barley, replaced by quinoa to make it gluten free. This is an opportunity for Zebedeus to improve as indicating which mains can and cannot be provided gluten free with modification would be far more inviting for the gluten free traveller and visitor considering where to eat.
With enormous thanks to the front of house and kitchen staff, I absolutely love how willing Zebedeus is to accommodate off-menu orders. On one visit I simply asked for an enormous plate of greens and veggies with plenty of olive oil and received exactly what I wanted with a smile. Restaurant service in the Netherlands is variable but my experience is that the service at Zebedeus is consistently fantastic. Friendly, attentive and accommodating and critically, very allergen aware.
Food Glorious Food?
Before anything else I need to talk about the Sticky Chocolate Pecan Pie. It *looks* divine. It tastes exactly as it looks. Decadent. Rich. Full of flavour and gorgeous texture. The Zebedeus Pecan Pie is the single *best* Pecan Pie I have eaten anywhere, ever. It is not good *considering* it is gluten free. It is simply great. No qualifiers needed. If you visit and have any love for pie plan your meal carefully and leave room for the Pecan Pie. Do this and thank me, seriously. Oh, but if I am visiting at the same time, do not, please do not, take the last piece!
The *problem* with the Pecan Pie however is the starters and mains are also reliably enticing and thoroughly enjoyable. I have never had a dish disappoint. With credit to the chef the dishes are designed and delivered with skill to offer visual appeal and flavours to be relished. Whether you choose a vegan, vegetarian or one of of the seafood or meat dishes.
Most recently I sampled two non-vegan dishes, a Butter Bean, Feta & Mint starter and a North Sea Fish medley on a bed of tricolore quinoa, peas, carrots, spring onions and parsley. The starter provided a deep, utterly moreish umami richness and subtlety brightened by the mint. Amongst the freshly caught sea food plump, juicy cockles were tiny morsels of delight but I also adored the colourful crunchy quinoa salad.
I also exerted herculean willpower to try instead a new dessert, the vegan, gluten free Banana Bread. The risk paid off deliciously. Banana flavour was beautifully intense and tamed only a little by coconut mellowness. The bread was fantastically moist and laced with cranberries delivering little starbursts of sweetness.
Would I Return?
Absolutely! I will return, I will praise the virtues of this absolutely delightful restaurant, I will think about the Pecan Pie.
There are two things I hope to see when I next visit that will improve Zebedeus further. One is a menu enhancement to make all the gluten free menu options clear including those with ready substitutions. The second is for a return to having physical barriers between desserts containing and not containing gluten. These have been present on most of my visits but on the last the gluten free pecan pie was located close to a non gluten free cake. Cross contamination did not appear likely and the staff have demonstrated strong allergen awareness on each of my visits but a physical barrier should be therefore for additional safety.