Are you new to the Netherlands and are a bit confused about how to dine out the Dutch way? Look no further because we’ve rounded up a few helpful tips to avoid any awkward situations for you when dining out in Holland.
Top 10 Tips for Eating Out in the Netherlands
Timing is Everything
What time do you usually eat lunch or dinner in your country? In the Netherlands, lunch dates at hotels can be as early as 11 AM as they already have their kitchens open for breakfast for hotel guests. However, if you’re lunching out at a café or restaurant, kitchens usually open at 12 NN.
Dining out for dinner usually starts at a later time, such as 7 PM. Still, this largely depends on where you are in the country. In the more quiet cities, dinner at restaurants usually starts at 6 PM. In cities like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, dinner at restaurants can begin as late as 8 PM.
Unless it’s a very popular place, reservations are usually not necessary for lunch. However, this is not the case for dinner. If you want a guaranteed table, make reservations. Also, most establishments are closed on Mondays, so be sure to check out their websites or ask in advance before you make your plans.
The Dutch are a pretty laid-back people. So unless you’re going to a 5-star hotel or Michelin-starred restaurant, casual wear is fine.
If you’re dining out with Dutch friends or coworkers, you don’t order food until everyone is present even if the waiter already hands out the menu. However, you can order drinks for yourself while waiting. In fact, don’t be surprised if the waiter immediately asks you what you want to drink after they just handed you the menu.
Also, don’t be surprised if someone asks if the group’s ordering starters. Sometimes, people want to go ahead and order the main course and save room for dessert.
Good to know: When it comes to food portions, most items on the menu are meant to be eaten by one person. That is, portion sizes are not meant for sharing.
Say “Eet Smakkelijke”
When everyone’s food arrives, say “eet smakelijk” (enjoy your meal) to everyone in general.
Take Your Time
The Dutch love to savor their meals when dining out. This is because they see eating out as a social event. As such, take your time when dining out, especially when you’re with Dutchies.
Good to know: By the way, unlike other cultures, the Dutch are not the in the habit of sharing food on their plates. They may ask you how your food is and, of course, you can ask them about theirs. However, it’s not usual to offer said food.
Give Feedback if Necessary
So, you ordered something that’s too salty, too oily, or just totally not to your liking. Go ahead and call the waiter to give your feedback or comments. Really good establishments will replace your order with a new one or offer a free drink or cup of coffee in return.
Get Up to Pay the Bill
You can ask for the bill at the table, but if you don’t want to waste time trying to get the attention of a passing waiter, simply stand up and go to the cash register or reception to pay your bill.
Splitting the Bill
When dining out with friends or co-workers, it’s not unusual to split the bill (a.k.a. Go Dutch!). There are two ways to do this: split the bill now or split it later.
Split the bill now: divide the bill by the number of people in your group, and everyone falls in line to pay their share.
Split the bill later: you, or someone else, pays the bill, and everyone gets a link or Tikkie later. A Tikkie is an online payment app that lets someone send payment requests to others via WhatsApp, email, or other online media. When you open a Tikkie request, you’ll be prompted to pay the amount requested by transferring the funds via online banking.
Our advice: if you’re with a big group or with people you don’t know well, split the bill at the restaurant. It’s fewer headaches!
Common Question: Can I request that the bill be divided based on what I actually ordered? You can, but it’s not common.
Also, although splitting the bill is common, it’s still a good idea to clarify things if you’re in doubt. For example, if someone suggests going out for dinner, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will pay for everyone.
There’s no tipping culture in the Netherlands. This is because wages in the hospitality industry are pretty decent, and most staff earns at least the minimum wage. Also, most restaurants already apply a service charge to the bill, which is usually 10% to 15% of what you consumed. Still, even if tipping isn’t expected, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
If you’re with a small group, the custom is simply to round off the amount on your bill (to the nearest 5 or 10). Yes, even if this means just leaving a few coins behind. If you’re paying by card, you can also just round off the amount on the receipt.
If you’re with a big group or at a high-end restaurant and you want to tip more, adding 10% to the bill is customary.