Having travelled almost two hours from Brussels, the world capital of fries, we were sceptical when our hotel recommended Reitz, a restaurant in Maastricht’s Markt square specialising in, well, fries. Having been told their fries were world-famous, we weren’t surprised to find a small queue huddled in the rain waiting for their turn to sample the trademark fries which are made from potatoes from local farms, freshly peeled and cut on site into 12mm strips before being baked to a gold-yellow colour in a hand-turned “tute”.
We passed the queue at the take-away counter to try our luck for a seat inside the restaurant. To our surprise the renovated interior with enough space to seat up to 60 guests was completely empty. Taking this as an unpromising sign, we decided to look for another place to eat and after an hour of exploring the surrounding streets we somehow ended up right where we had started. Our feet had led us back to the front of Frituur-Restaurant Reitz, which was now full of diners. It seemed our date with Reitz was just meant to be.
We were lucky to get a seat and quickly installed ourselves at the last remaining booth. Our eyes were instantly drawn to the tables around us, topped with plates of fries and an assortment of meat dishes. Our eyes widened at the sight of a large plate of meatballs at the adjacent table. We perused the several menu items but couldn’t find anything that quite described the delicious-looking dish we’d been eyeing. Our friendly waitress confirmed that what we’d been admiring was the boulets à la Liegeoise – another Belgian specialty. The irony did not escape us, but we did not let it stop us ordering a portion before seeking the waitress’ recommendation for a second dish. She then proceeded to patiently describe in detail every item listed on the non-English menu before suggesting the fricadelle and the croquettes à la viande to share.
The dishes quickly arrived, each accompanied by a generous plate of the famous fries and a delicious homemade mayonnaise. We skimmed the plate with the deep fried croquette and something resembling a sausage, and focussed our attention on the much-anticipated boulets. We dipped our fries in the sauce and were instantly wowed. The sauce accompanying the meatballs was rich and tasty, similar to a thick onion gravy only much sweeter due to the addition of sirop de Liège, a Belgian jam-like apple sauce. We cut through a homemade meatball to reveal a perfectly cooked interior. It seemed like a cruel joke to have been served three of these delicious meatballs to share between the two of us – neither of us wanted to relinquish the last boulet. It wasn’t until the plate was empty that we were able to properly focus on the fries – deliciously light and crunchy and perfect for dipping in what was left of the Liegeoise sauce.
Reitz has been serving their excellent fries to accompany their tasty dishes since 1909. It was the first friterie in the Netherlands and is still the oldest existing friterie in the country. After sampling their fries, we can understand why they’ve been a success for over 100 years. While you can easily grab a cone of fries from the takeaway counter and leave a happy customer, you’ll only be getting part of the Reitz experience. We recommend you venture inside, take a seat and let the friendly staff guide you on a discovery of Dutch deep-fried delights.
Markt 75, 6211 CL Maastricht