This story is about neighbourhood favourites. Those excellent, sometimes unsung or overlooked heroes that bring heart and soul into the place you live. Our example is Team Kompas’s local and a de Pijp stalwart, Kingfisher Cafe.
De Pijp is a busy place and the recent refurbishment of Ceintuurbaan and Ferdinand Bolstraat – two of de Pijp’s three main roads – has created havoc over the past year. The City of Amsterdam has been tearing up and re-laying huge parts of the city’s public transport routes (de Pijp included) in preparation of the new north-south subway which runs beneath them and finally opens in 2018.
It’s been a long road – both literally and figuratively – but as the most visible and disruptive work is completed, the making-over of shops, bars, restaurants and even communal public spaces like terraces, sidewalks and squares continues, quicker than ever.
Despite being firmly on the tourist map thanks to local attractions like Heineken Experience and Albert Cuypmarkt, Ceintuurbaan and Ferdinand Bolstraat have always felt pretty drab. Especially when compared to Van Woustraat at the eastern side of de Pijp, which has regularly benefitted from most of the freshest new restaurants and coolest new shops.
For instance, trendsetting Hutspot began on Van Wou, Ace & Tate opened one of its first bricks-and-mortar stores there, and yummy ramen-joint Fou Fow just arrived (read our stories about them and about La Boutique del Caffe Torrefazione by clicking the links). But now that Van Wou’s poorer relative Ferdinand Bolstraat has hit the jackpot, it’d be natural to get swept up in all the new Shiny Things lining its pavements, and forget (albeit momentarily) about the heart and soul we spoke of at this story’s opening.
We don’t want that, so this is our very long-winded segue back into the topic of this post, Ferdinand Bolstraat long-termer, Kingfisher Cafe.
Now, the choice is yours; you could sit at one of the bars at Marie Heinekenplein, the square behind the Heineken Experience, but the enclave is mostly populated by weary, disoriented tourists carrying branded totes of overpriced brewery memorabilia. The rest of the square’s transient inhabitants seem to be washing their toddlers in the newly installed fountain. If you want to live like a local (and you’re not one already) cross the street and take a pew within the always welcoming Kingfisher.
And really it’s the atmosphere which sets it apart from other places in the vicinity. It’s not the closest cafe or bar to the Team Kompas HQ, but it feels more like a ‘local’ than anywhere else we’ve had the pleasure to visit in our spare time.
A ‘local’ is somewhere that the vibe is right. It’s not really about the physicalities – what’s hanging on the wall or how good the handsoap in the bathroom is – it’s more about how comfortable and instinctive it feels to spend time there.
While that’s not very quantifiable, I’m certain you can relate. And a few things are a bit more tangible; first and foremost are the amiable staff who, in the early evening, greet us with a warm smile and seem to actually care about the experience we’ll have whilst in their charge.
Home-cooked food is available for brunch and dinner and the obligatory snack (borrelhapje) menu offers typical no-fuss Dutch fayre. For those not in the know, that equates to a variety of deep fried goodies like bitterballen, or Dutch cheeses and traditional meats like ossenworst (a cured, raw sausage).
The cafe is casual and bright. Big windows bring in light from the terrace which – on a good day – you can use to watch parents wash their kids in the fountain opposite. Meanwhile the beer list is decent and all the other usual beverages are at your disposal, be they alcoholic or otherwise.
Kingfisher reminds us of why we started Kompas Amsterdam in the first place. We wanted to share stories about where we like to spend our time and explain why. We don’t want to write about places because they’re brand new, we want to write about places because we think they’re valuable.
We still want to discover new things and head to ‘that place we always wanted to try’. But when we’re in our neighbourhood and looking for an atmosphere which speaks of relaxation, friendliness, comfort and familiarity, Kingfisher will always be at the top of our list.
|Booking||You could reserve a spot, if you so wished|