In a small town down south in the province of Noord Brabant was an interesting locale to commemorate a milestone for our friend, Pieterjan. Since turning 45 only happens once in a lifetime, I thought it would be nice to have a celebratory meal in pleasantly unusual surroundings, searching as far as Belgium to see if there was a place worth the journey from where he stayed in Rotterdam. With help from old friend Google, a 150-year old church cleverly reused as a dining establishment came up in my search, and being just a half hour away made it not only practical, it was practically a given. Lunch in such a holy environment certainly offered something different yet familiar – where pews used to be are now dining tables and booths, the altar is now the kitchen, stained glass windows still intact and brilliant. Wine was definitely on the menu.
The dishes weren’t too complicated – an uitsmijter for Teko and the seafood-themed house lunch for me and the birthday boy, with salmon, tuna, seasonal pumpkin soup, shrimp kroket, and salad – simple Dutch cuisine that seemed suited for the location. We didn’t say a prayer before our meal so I hope no one goes Old Testament on us, but I did feel an inner peace once we finished and were out the door. If a tiny town like Hooge Zwaluwe can have such a ‘destination’ restaurant, there’s certainly hope for many other towns out there. It’s only a question of time when we find out.