This trip is not only a great way to see more of Europe, it is an exercise in deciding whether we can survive on freelance wages without the added pressures of rent and bills. We have a strict budget, so nights out will be at a premium. We have so far managed to come in under budget though so a treat was in order. A nice meal and maybe a beer or two seemed the perfect way to celebrate a) our first house-sit of the trip and b) the completion of my first actual paid remote job.
Haarlem, chosen over Amsterdam for convenience, didn’t disappoint. A little advance research by Nick led us to Jopenkerk, a bar in a deconsecrated church, where they brew all the beers on site. We only had time and money for two beers each. Served in 25 or 30 cl measures and at anything from 4 – 9%, they were pretty pricey at over €3 each, but worth every penny, sorry cent.
The building itself was pretty cool too. A large, but not too bright open plan space housed the bar and the brewing equipment, with a mezzanine restaurant overlooking the whole proceedings. It was very modern yet sympathetic to the original church and had a good atmosphere despite being a Monday night in August. My only faux pas (I’d had some 8% beer in my defense) was pointing to the toilet door and stating that it must be the ladies, as the picture looked less manly than the other option, just as a woman came through it. I can only hope that she wasn’t too offended.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the meals in the restaurant as well as the beer so we moved on to another, cheaper restaurant Het Pakhuis. We quickly realised that we’d made a good choice as it too was busy. The staff were extremely friendly and once we’d negotiated the dutch menu we ordered a starter each and a main, which with two beers a piece came in at around €37.
Nick’s starter of bitterballen was followed by what can only be described as yummily sticky looking dinosaur ribs. I had bread with garlic butter and tapenade, which was equally filling and delicious, but for me the main was something else. I know that it had aubergine and brie in it and there were croquettes of some kind, but I couldn’t tell you anything else except that it looked and tasted fantastic. The whole thing was accompanied by the truly dutch delicacy, chips and mayonnaise. After a lifetime of being disappointed by the vegetarian option in most restaurants we need more places that take the genre this seriously. It really was very good and that’s not just the 8% beer talking.
The only drawback was the lack of a machine to pay by card as we didn’t have enough cash. This was quickly remedied by Nick dashing off to find an ATM leaving me as collateral. They even offered me a drink while I waited. I do love the dutch, so accommodating. I’m still not sure how Nick actually managed to dash anywhere though with the amount of meat in his stomach. Our night out was definitely a success. Let’s hope we continue to come in under budget so that there can be more like it.