I was told about Spinoza, an eatery in Leeuwarden, by a dear friend. Spinoza is ‘vegan-friendly’, which means in this case they have a fully vegan menu! With desserts!
Apart from serving dinner, they do theatre nights, have (vegan) high teas, do take-out, etc. Additionally Spinoza was chosen (by a TV show I believe) to be the best bistro of the whole of the Netherlands ! Of course I needed to check it out. I went with said dear friend (who is non-vegan) to do some fabric shopping and some gastronomic exploration.
Spinoza is housed in a beautiful old building. Apart from the large room inside, there is a terrace, and a patio. Spinoza prides itself on being welcoming, and I found the atmosphere is indeed nice, casual, warm, and inviting. As appetizers we got some peanuts, and then we had to make some tough choices.
The vegan menu has 6 starters, 4 mains and 5 desserts. They actually use some interesting ingredients like fake cheeses, and other soy substitutes. To me this is interesting, because apart from some fully vegan places (like the VJFB), seeing ‘vegan cheese’ is not that common in the Netherlands. Though with the introduction of new vegan pizza’s at Domino’s and New York pizza, this might change **!
And all the food on the menu sounded delicious and quite different from what is often offered. For example, one of the starters is melon soup, another starter is a sweet potato fritter with soy yoghurt sauce. In the end I went with the lentil fritters, which were served with a chilli sauce. They were presented in a nice way, and very tasty!
For my main I was heavily doubting between the vegan lasagne and the “Seitan Wellington”, which I guess is a variation on a “beef Wellington”. I changed last moment to take the lasagne, which comes with “Cheddar”. The lasagne is served with a crunchy salad, and the portion is huge! You won’t leave this place hungry!
More importantly, the lasagne is delicious, the “cheese” was melted and very nice. My friend took some non-vegan dish, but the sides that came with her food were in fact vegan: tasty baked potatoes, some rhubarb compote which I liked a lot, and some broccoli with curry sauce (which I didn’t particularly like). My friend also got some fries, which were served with vegan mayonnaise. (I helped her eat them, no worries)
Somehow I kept some room for dessert. I had the apple strudel, which is served with speculaas ice cream with home-made soy whipped cream. Not surprisingly, very tasty! They also offer a crème brûlée, which I really want to try next time. It was the speculaas ice-cream that swayed me!
I really loved the concept, the atmosphere and the food, and the staff is super nice too! I obviously had a lot of questions, about the “cheese” (I got a bit nervous because they say they are vegan-friendly and then put cheddar on the menu…) and how they made the whipped cream…I mean, as a vegan you become slightly paranoid when you see these things, since it doesn’t specify on the menu that they items are not made of dairy !
I also found the prices very reasonable, especially for what you get. I cannot wait to go back!
Website (Dutch) : http://eetcafespinoza.nl/