Ever have one of those nights out that everything just feels right? When you have no plans yet everything falls into place?
I met a new girlfriend of mine for a drink at Dam Square last eve and while the plan was to find a place to have a couple of drinks and chat it up for a bit, the evening quickly turned heavy. It turns out she just broke up with her boyfriend of over five years. The break up, ongoing as they still live together, was so fresh, you could see the hurt radiating from her body. Typically over run with tourists, Dam Square was not the place to have much needed girl talk.
She suggested we have a couple of pints at Beer Fabriek but the large groups – mostly boisterous beer-filled men – was not the environment we needed. We had our beers (try the Nero, their porter) and decided to move on.
We walked on to a much quieter street called Nes and almost immediately the volume and the pace of the city dropped to a more manageable level. Running parallel to Rokin, a very busy thorough way, Nes is a side street that the mass of tourists just a few feet away don’t seem to have discovered. Maybe it’s not on the maps?
We popped in to van Kerkwijk since she had eaten there before and wanted a guaranteed good meal – she already had enough disappointments to deal with. The restaurant was full. There were couples on dates. Two large groups of men who clearly had read the reviews on the steak with strawberry sauce since all 12 of them had ordered the same dish. Despite the restaurant being at capacity, we were able to have a wonderful conversation without screaming at each other. Have to love restaurants who pay attention to their acoustics!
We shared a beetroot and goat cheese salad that came with the ideal French bread, crusty on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside. I had the cod with quinoa and my friend the fish curry. We talked. We laughed. We occasionally moaned with glee from the lovely meal. The conversation went from silly to sad, inspirational to idiotic – and really everything in between.
Like the restaurant, which executed the meal and ambiance with a subtly that many other restaurants completely miss, this evening was – heartbreak aside- easy, comfortable and unbelievably satisfying. It was one of the first times in my few weeks here that I forgot I was new in the city. It was one of those moments that the location didn’t matter, it just felt like home.