Lage Vuursche - Pancakes and the Bunnyberg
We’ve often seen articles about how dining out in the Netherlands has improved over the years. These articles frequently mention our great Michelin three-star chef, Jonnie Boer, of De Librije in Zwolle and its sister restaurant, Librije’s zuster. In one interview, he charmingly let slip that even he enjoys a fast-food snack from time to time. No snob, he. So we may as well come clean and admit that we occasionally go in for a Dutch pancake.
For your first pancake experience, why deny yourself? Do it right and get your lean and well-muscled backside out to Lage Vuursche. This leafy village south of Amsterdam is a bend in the road in the middle of the woods with a church, six pancake joints and two proper restaurants.
Okay, it may not be a gastronomic miracle, but as traditional fare it’s fun, filling and non-fussy. The Dutch pancake is as big as the enormous plate it’s served on, but unlike its French cousin, the crèpe, its ‘filling’ is fried along with the batter. Considered a substantial snack or a proper meal, for some reason it is never eaten for breakfast. We once asked if we could order one at a café just as they were opening, around 9:30. They looked at us as if we were one cheese short of a pizza quattro formaggi.
Typical fillings include apple, cinnamon, cheese, bacon or ham, pineapple, mushrooms and stem ginger, and it’s not unusual to combine sweet and savoury in one pancake. It’s a Dutch tradition: unpretentious and kid-friendly.
In researching Lage Vuursche and its many pancake ops, we admit to having given in to temptation when we saw the Kastanjehof lunch menu. All good intentions aside, we chucked pancake research for the day, and had a club sandwich of Taleggio (Mrs Boots), a lovingly simmered stew of venison, chanterelle mushrooms and pumpkin (Mr Bowtie) with a glass each of delectable Spanish house wine. Coffee. If time or budget doesn’t allow for a full meal here, just order the ‘koffie servies’, two cups of coffee (anything bigger than what P.J. O’Rourke called ‘Euro-weeny’ cups is music to our Americans ears) or a pot of tea with a selection of ‘friandises’, in this case homemade bonbons. It’s a splurge you’ll remember.
Pancake ops in Lage Vuursche:
- De Vuursche Boer (our choice for pancakes) https://www.devuurscheboer.nl
- Het Vuursche Bos
- ‘t Jagershuis
Additionally there is a fun café just outside of town called ‘Buiten in de Kuil’, open every day, with sandwiches, burgers, salads, pastry. Plenty of vegetarian options. https://www.buitenindekuil.nl
De Lage Vuursche
De Kastanjehof – (also a hotel) http://www.dekastanjehof.nl/
The area is easily accessible from the western hub of major cities.
The walk is mostly in woods with some hills and dunes, and is mostly on unpaved surfaces.
Lage Vuursche is home to royal palace Kasteel Drakensteijn. It may sound like one of the residences at Hogwarts, but it was the home of our former queen when she was just plain Princess Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld. She bought the castle in 1963, and lived there until she succeeded to the throne in 1980. Since abdicating in 2013, Drakensteijn is again Beatrix’s official residence. The palace is not open for visitors, but the ‘Kuil’ (hole, pit or dimple) a park just to the north of the palace is open to the public, and is a pleasant picnic spot.
You will pass through the ecological grazing area ‘De Stulp’, inhabited in the warm months by a herd of white Charolais cattle. They may seem merely decorative, but they have a purpose: they are employed to keep tree growth down here on the heath. This section of the walk is also good for Amanita sighting at mushroom time – they tend to grow near birch trees and their bright red colour is a welcome addition to the forest carpet.
Our route brings you very near Soestdijk Palace, once home to the late Prince Bernard and Queen Juliana, grandparents of the present monarch. If you have time and inclination, take the guided tour Friday through Sunday. Website in Dutch only: https://www.paleissoestdijk.nl/bezoekersinfo/het-paleis-bezoeken.html
Hollandsche Rading – Lage Vuursche – Baarn
From Hollandsche Rading railway station:
Have your first/next coffee at ‘Perron Peet’, across from the small Hollandsche Rading station. Then walk back over the tracks and under the motorway overpass on Vuurse Dreef.
After 90 metres LEFT into parking area opposite Oosterspoorlaan and enter the Goois Natuurreservaat ‘De Zuid’
Rather than announce every marker and every turn, we begin by simply following the markings of the point-to-point system, beginning here with marker 71. This way we keep our eyes up, rather than reading instructions. The first half of our way to Lage Vuursche is marked by these blue arrows on an orange background (see map #1). At the sign (on the right) ‘Maartensdijksebos’, we leave blue-arrow on orange, and follow the yellow over red markings ‘De Vuursche’(also map #1).
Once we reach the main street of Lage Vuursche (Dorpslaan), we leave yellow-over-red for a time. For this bit, rely on the map and the following directions:
Turn left, northwards on Dorpsstraat. Continuing past De Kastanjehof, STRAIGHT as the main drag curves right, you enter Kloosterlaan. Admire Kloosterlaan #4, the mini-palace of Klein Drakensteyn. Then –
After 100m, the first forest path RIGHT (orange sign: Utrechtse Heuvelrug)
After 250 m, cross the Hoge Vuurseweg, then LEFT and immediate RIGHT
After 150 m, the fabulous Konijnenberg: picnic spot extraordinaire
Having crossed the Amsterdamsestraatweg, we’re barely half a kilometer from Baarn railway station. There have been plenty of refreshment opportunities on this walk. Nonetheless, we recommend just stopping in at Café De Generaal, just before the station. The historic building is in fact Baarn’s former train station. Seated on their enormous terrace, with a foamy glass of ‘Texels Skuumkoppe’, a beer from one of the northern islands, we can look back on a satisfying day in the woods and on the heath.