Staring At Jacob at the corner of Staringstraat and Jacob van Lennepkade – hence the name – in the Oud West part of the city, was a place I’d been hearing about for a while now but for uncomplicated reasons never could bother to visit. I’d heard a few times that the food was great, something online reviews seemed to echo, but the chance to make it for brunch was rare. After a missed opportunity last week and a near cancellation this weekend, I finally made it there today, with an ex-colleague who’s kept touch even after parting company ways.
I arrived with enough time to find the place buzzing, pretty much expected as it was in an area that despite having the saddest-looking apartments in the city and overpriced at that, has a lot of expats, young professionals, and its share of unwashed, wanna-be hipsters. Apart from small pockets of lovely side-streets here and there and proximity to Vondelpark, unfortunately, the neighborhood was virtually hate at first sight. Despite all these though we got a table quite quickly, and as we sat as comfortably as we could, we tried our best to catch up on the roller-coaster events over the last couple of months.
Staring At Jacob turned out to be a usual Dutch establishment with stereotypically small tables close to other stereotypically small tables, which meant any intimate conversation had to be closed-in for risk of being overheard, and where the noise level could easily be overwhelming due to lack of space and privacy. The non-Dutch waitstaff were nice enough though a bit fresh – the coffee shakily laid down our table was only slightly alarming – and the food well-prepared and satisfying though without that wow-factor seen from others like Bakers & Roasters or Drovers Dog. In other words, it was just okay. It was pleasant, in any case, to get reacquainted with my former colleague, especially after all the changes and tumult of late, and after this more chances to get together aren’t far-fetched. Given SAJ’s relative commonness it’s highly likely to be elsewhere.