I’m going to take a brief break from Berlin this week, and tell you about a unique vegan restaurant called Gare du Nord. Despite the name, it’s not in Paris but actually in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and we visited in November last year.
Well, the restaurant does have a strange link to Berlin actually. One of my specialist subjects is the former East Germany. For anyone interested in recent history, what happened in this part of the world during the 45 years after the war is fascinating.
So you can imagine my delight when I heard that there was a new vegan restaurant in Rotterdam… which is housed inside a former East German railway carriage! It’s almost too bizarre to be true, but I can assure you that it really does exist.
As it is now over seven months since we visited, we have both forgotten most of the specifics, but we do remember really enjoying the experience. It was a set menu, with limited choices, but that’s common in that part of the world.
The starter was a warming curried soup, perfect for a cold November evening. The main dish was an varied mix of stir-fried noodles, grilled pumpkin, parsnip mash, crunchy tofu, and some other things too. For dessert we were delivered apple and almond pie.
It was rather posh by our standards – real linen tablecloth and everything! – and the food was delicious and very nicely presented. It’s clear that the kitchen staff take pride in their work. The service was very friendly too.
The food doesn’t arrive fast, but it’s a pleasant, comfortable place to sit back and relax in, so we didn’t worry about that. It wasn’t cheap either, but then eating out in the Netherlands rarely is! By Dutch standards the price was reasonable, and I doubt any Londoner would blink twice at the menu. (Living in Berlin has knocked our restaurant price barometer down somewhat.)
The restaurant is part of a wider social enterprise, which includes an organic vegetable garden right next to the restaurant (so the veg on your plate is very local, having travelled only a few metres from where it was grown), and vegan cooking workshops for children which include education about animal welfare and the consequences of our food choices.
As it happened, we made a diversion on our trip through the Netherlands just to try this restaurant, and it was well worth it!
It was dark when we went there, so the photos I took are only of food. If you’d like to see more, you can visit their website.
Extra note: reminder that Joe is hosting the first Berlin Vegan Drinks on July 17, 2015.