Coffee break (Groningen, the Netherlands)

Coffee Break

I went to Coffee Break in Groningen almost two years ago. I went to get breakfast and coffee, and it happened to be close to my hotel. They had several sandwiches for breakfast, including one that was easily veganisable, a peanut-butter banana toasty. At the time it was served with honey, which was easily left out. Also they had plant-milk for in the coffee. At that time I didn’t make any pictures, but I made a mental note to come back and write about this place for my blog.

Interior at Coffee Break
View on the reading table

Finally, I made my way back to Groningen and visited Coffee break again. The place expanded! It is now at least three times as big, with a second floor. While the room is spacious, the atmosphere is still relaxed and cosy. There is for example a reading table with several magazines and newspapers available. The toast that I had last time is now served in a vegan form. And very special: in the fancy coffee you get oat milk as a standard. They have other milk alternatives, such as soy and almond, as well. They do serve cow milk, but for that you have to pay extra. This is the first time that I have seen that! I really like the initiative.  I was a bit surprised that on the tables they do have standard creamer, but later I found out they normally have soy creamer. There was just an issue with the supplier that time.

Vegan cake at Coffee break
Vegan forest fruits and date cake

When I visited Coffee Break there were several cakes on display, and one was vegan. There is a whole bunch of vegan items on the menu now!  We wanted to try a slice of the vegan cake of course, so we had that with a coffee. They also have several smoothies, so I wanted to try one of those as well. An interesting combination, and we also got our order in several parts. We got the cake before the coffee, probably because there was only one server for the entire room. It was however, not that busy. The blueberry cake with dates was nice, not too sweet. The coffee was fine too. It got served with chocolates, which were not vegan. [Edited to add] I have been contacted by Coffee Break and they have informed me their chocolates were in fact vegan.

Coffee and cake at Coffee Break
Oat latte and a slice of the aforementioned cake

We got our smoothies after the coffee, we tried the “mean green”, a combination of spinach, parsley, ginger, mango, and lemon juice (water-based) and the “goody fruity”, a banana-strawberry version with almond milk. The smoothies look very pretty, and are decorated with cacao nibs. They are served with a recyclable straw. Taste-wise they were fine, not very special.

Smoothies at Coffee Break
Pretty smoothies

One thing that is strange, is that the toilet is located upstairs. I have to admit here, that I only thought about it because one of the other patrons was in a wheelchair. I will try to make the effort to note these things. [Edited to add:] I initially thought there was only a staircase but there is also an elevator.

Interior at Coffee Break
Upstairs room

 

Type of place: Breakfast and lunch café
Completely vegan: no

Address: Gedempte Zuiderdiep 22, 9711 HG Groningen, Netherlands

I couldn’t find a working website for Coffee Break. At the time of writing the website linked from the Facebook of their old location was down.

Spinoza (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands)

Spinoza sign outside
“The best bistro of the Netherlands!”

 

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.

Interior of Spinoza
Casual and rustic interior

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 **!

Lentil fritters at Spinoza
Lentil fritters

 

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!

Vegan Lasagne at Spinoza
Vegan lasagne, with fake cheese !

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!

Side salad at Spinoza
Salad that came with the lasagne

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)

Side dishes at Spinoza
Vegan sides!

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!

Apple strudel at Spinoza
Apple strudel with speculaas ice cream and soy whipped cream

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!

 

Type of place: Bistro, High-tea, Take-out, etc
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (Dutch) : http://eetcafespinoza.nl/ 

**

Hummus House (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

The Hummus House. What can be better than an eatery fully focused on one of the staples of the vegan diet! While the Hummus house is not fully vegan, there are many options for vegans. The most important part, the hummus itself, is vegan.

Open kitchen at Hummus house
Eat hummus – Be happy

The Hummus House is a fast-casual place. The atmosphere is chill, there is jazz music playing. I believe they also do take-away.

hummushouse_interior

The food is prepared in the open kitchen and comes out fast. There is a hummus plate, which comes with pita, pickles and two types of sauces (a spicy sauce, and a garlic & lemon sauce, both are vegan). Then there are possibilities for add-ons such as fava beans, or eggs. I added the aubergine, which was great! You can also order additional extras like more pita bread, pickles or chopped almonds. The hummus was very good, full of taste and very creamy. The pitas were nice and fluffy, the garlic lemon sauce was quite sharp, the other sauce indeed pretty spicy.  I liked the addition of the pickles, I never thought to combine them but the sour pickles go well with the creamy hummus.

Hummus plate at Hummus house
Hummus with eggplant, pitas, pickles and two sauces

The Hummus House also serves main dishes, like aubergine, baked potatoes or roasted veggies, salads, and special tapas such as matbuka, a dish with roasted bell pepper, or mushrooms. I would totally go for the hummus plate though, it is pretty amazing.

Dessert at Hummus House
Coconut malabi!

The Hummus House serves several desserts, and there is also a vegan option!  This dessert, coconut malabi, is based on coconut custard with almonds and coconut flakes, which was very tasty! I really like to be able to try desserts like this, which are (based on) traditional recipes, instead of the standard ice cream that many non-Western restaurants offer.

 

Coffee with speculoos at Hummus House

For drinks they have several juices and home-made drinks, soda pop and warm drinks like coffee and tea. I tried the home-made lemonade. It comes with sugar water, which was needed since the lemonade was quite sour! I like to be able to dose the amount of sugar I need in my drinks, so I really liked this idea.

Type of place: Middle-eastern
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes !

Website (English) : https://www.hummushouse.nl/

Brunchroom (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Brunchroom in Amsterdam has been on my “places to try” list for a while now. The ‘problem’ is that a> I don’t go to Amsterdam that often, and b> Amsterdam has quite some choices for vegans, so my “to visit” list has been growing for a while! A few weeks ago I visited Amsterdam again and I decided that this time, I really had to go get some vegan waffles (!!).

Table at Brunchroom
Reading table

Brunchroom is a bit away from the Amsterdam city centre, but definitively within walking distance from the Central Station. The place is a bit small, but very cosy and cute. It was also quite busy! Fortunately we could still nab a spot at the reading table.

Interior at Brunchroom
Waffles are huge but I still don’t wanna share!

As the name implies, here brunch is served in many shapes; eggs, yoghurt, sandwiches, soups, waffles and a variety of drinks, such as coffee (milk alternatives available: soy and almond), tea, chocolate, juices and smoothies. Their menu changes a bit with the seasons, I noticed they still have the winter menu on their website. There are several vegan options, for the sandwiches, soups, smoothies and of course the waffles! There is also a vegan speciality coffee, the lavender latte. Of course, me and my trusted better half took it upon us to try to taste as much as we could!

Drinks at Brunchroom
How pretty do these look!

We tried both vegan smoothies that were available: the lambada (peach, coconut, banana, orange, turmeric) and the twist (beets, dates, strawberry and banana) They were delicious and thick, and presented so beautifully! The Lavender latte is an espresso with frothed hot coconut milk and lavender. I liked the concept, but I find the taste of coconut milk in coffee often too overpowering.

Drinks at Brunchroom
Nice details

For the waffles you can choose your own toppings, which are divided into a few groups based on the price. There are a lot of vegan options, and even vegan whipped cream! Choosing toppings took a while because there were so many options.  In the end I tried a combination of peanut butter and banana, a classic, with some additional pumpkin seeds. My husband tried peanut butter, fig jam and maple syrup. The waffles were delicious and thick, and huge!

Waffles at Brunchroom
Peanut butter-banana-pumpkin seed and peanut butter-fig jam-maple syrup

Even with so much other stuff to try in Amsterdam, I cannot wait to go back to the Brunchroom!

Type of place: Brunch/Breakfast
Completely vegan: no
Website (Dutch, English) : http://brunchroom.nl/

IndoGo (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Indonesian cuisine is very diverse, due to the fact that the country consists of many islands (more than 17 000!), inhabited by different ethnic groups. Some well-known Indonesian foods are satay and nasi goreng, but there are also a lot of vegan and vegetarian dishes based on soy. Tempeh, a fermented soy product, is actually thought to be invented in Indonesia! I haven’t eaten at a lot of Indonesian restaurants, so I was very curious to try it out.

Interior at IndoGo
Take-out boxes, plants and Indonesian foodstuffs for decoration

IndoGo is a fast-casual Indonesian place in Amsterdam. They do mostly take-out/delivery, but there are a few seats available as well. The interior is nice, with Indonesian food stuffs displayed. There is also quite some plants, which are not that common in restaurants/take-out places!

 

IndoGo offers a “choose your own meal” option, using ready-made ingredients, a variety of side-dishes and snacks, sandwiches and desserts. There are several vegan options available, both for the ‘indo-meal’, and the sides like gado-gado and springrolls. These options are clearly marked. There’s also cold drinks available, including some more exotic options such as a lychee soft drink.

Food at IndoGo
Veggies, tofu and tempeh

The indo-meal is put together by choosing a base, a special and veggies. The specials are all meat, but the veggies include tofu (2 types) and tempeh. The only vegan base available is rice (several types), as the available noodles have eggs. After choosing the ingredients, they are put in a box and are heated in the microwave.

 

I choose the tempeh and the spicey eggplant. It was a great combination, the liquid from the eggplant gave the rice a nice flavour and made it stick together a bit. (Unfortunately it looked not so great on the picture) My husband choose white rice, tofu and veggies with coconut sauce (lodeh coconut), which was also nice, though the ingredients didn’t really combine so at the bottom there was just plain white rice.

Indomeal at IndoGo
Lodeh coconut, rice and tofu box

We also tried a vegan spring roll, but it wasn’t too great. It was quite floppy and not very crunchy, due to being reheated in the microwave. We also ordered the gado-gado but we never got it.

 

The service was very friendly, but not very good. I think the person putting the boxes together had just started, and communication was not great. The food was all-right, obviously not haute cuisine, but that is not expected. I think it is great they have several vegan options, and I would eat there again! If only to try the gado-gado salad !

Type of place: Indonesian, take-out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (English) : http://indo-go.nl/

Sources: wikipedia

Bagels and Beans (Den Haag, the Netherlands)

Bagels & Beans is a Dutch chain of cosy cafés where you can get coffee and bagels as advertised, but also pies, juices, breakfast, etc. A lot of the food is made with organic, durable and fair-trade ingredients, and they have gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options…sounds good!

Coffee at Bagels and Beans
Soy latte

I have visited several Bagels and Beans, but the one where I actually took some pictures is in Den Haag (The Hague). The location of this café is very interesting, it is in a bookshop, which creates a nice atmosphere. All Bagels and Beans cafés I visited are very welcoming. In their FAQ they even mention being totally fine with people just coming in to shelter from the rain!

Pecan pie at Bagels and Beans
Naturally sweetened pecan pie

This time I didn’t try any of their bagels, but there are vegan options for bagels, most of the bagel breads are vegan, and they have some vegan toppings available. In general it is best to ask the staff, they will help you. For your sweet fix there is a vegan pecan pie! It is also gluten-free, and delicious!

Chai tea at Bagels and Beans
Look at the cute plate!

 

Bagels and Beans serve a lot of different drinks, like juices, coffee, and teas, and they have several milk alternatives available. I really like this chain! I have visited several locations and they are all very cosy, with great food!

 
 
Type of place: café
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts:  yes!

Website (English, Dutch, German): https://www.bagelsbeans.nl/nl

Meneer Smakers (Utrecht, the Netherlands)

Burgers burgers burgers! Meneer Smakers is all about them! This small eatery in Utrecht is too hip to call it fast-food, but they are definitively inspired by it. The ordering process is fast: choose, order, pay (by card, no cash) and wait until your name gets called to fetch your food.

Inside mr Smakers at the Oudegracht
Nice decorations, badly made photo

Meneer Smakers can be found in 3 different spots in Utrecht, I have only visited the Oudegracht location, but I have been there many times. Utrecht is a city filled with students, so many patrons are young. It can be very busy! This interior has a bit of a rough edge; wooden tables with high seats. On every table there are napkins, ketchup and mayonnaise. To the back is the open kitchen, where you can see your food being prepared.

The burgers served at Meneer Smakers come in several forms, including two vegetarian and one vegan version. They also serve fries,  sandwiches (none are vegan) and salads, based on the burgers. Drink-wise there’s soda, coffee and tea. Nothing too out of the ordinary. The fries are great, they are handmade, from non-peeled potatoes. I personally enjoy sturdy, big crunchy fries, so I like it!

Burgers and fries at mr Smakers
Burger, fries and vegan mayonnaise!

The vegan burger is made of beans, and has mango chutney and cashews nuts on top. They are of good quality, and the portion of fries is generous. Additionally they have vegan mayonnaise!

Vegan burger at mr Smakers
Burger close-up .. yum!

Meneer Smakers reminded me a bit of  Hank Vegan Burger, however there are fewer vegan options. I do think that the burgers at meneer Smakers are superior.  In fact, the burgers at meneer Smakers might in fact be my all time favourites. I guess I have to do some  more research, just in case 🙂

Type of place: Burger
Completely vegan: no

Website  (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish) : https://meneersmakers.nl/