Have you ever wished that you could visit the fictional Cheers of the television series?
We had reservations for dinner at the excellent Amsterdam restaurant Balthazar's Keuken, but -- not familiar with Amsterdam geography -- we left ourselves a margin of error to arrive on time. In fact, we arrived at the front door more than 30 minutes before our reservation time; so we decided to partake a preprandial beverage.
Eetcafe de Jordaan is a half block up Elandsgracht from Balthazar's Keuken, and across the street. It looked friendly, so we stepped in.
It was a Friday evening, and the bar was being tended by a giant of a man of African descent who speaks perfect English (and, as we discovered, a bit of Japanese). Should you visit, you never will encounter a friendlier man. We learned that he is a retired professional boxer. Now, he is a perfect host.
De Jordaan is a neighborhood tavern/pub. Clearly, many of the patrons are neighborhood regulars. Unlike many neighborhood establishments, however, de Jordaan is entirely lacking in a we-them outlook. When you enter the door, you instantly become one of the "us" who already are there. Everybody inside -- even visitors from thousands of miles away as we were -- have been friends since childhood; we are all of the same group.
We had only 30 minutes before our dinner reservation, so we had to part from our newfound in-group in order to dine at Balthazar's Keuken. But the experience of de Jordaan was so overwhelmingly positive, we returned after dinner. We were greeted as we entered as long-lost friends.
Our second visit after dinner lasted less than an hour. But in the short time while we were there, probably every patron of the establishment unselfconsciously hugged every other patron -- including us -- at least once. They were not groping hugs, just friendly, sympathetic hugs. There are no strangers there, only friends. We have been in many taverns and pubs on three continents, but never in any that are as convivial as de Jordaan is.
Food was being served in de Jordaan, but, just off a fine restaurant meal, we did not eat the food; so we cannot comment on the quality of the cuisine. But the conviviality of the place is exceptional. You will not regret your visit, and will long to return.
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