Coming from Canada, squatting is a new concept for me. As far as I know, it’s illegal in Canada. You can’t just find any old abandoned building, break in, change the locks, set up a table, chair and bed, and call the local authorities to notify them you’ve moved in. In Europe, it’s different. However, laws seem to be changing and squatting is becoming an endangered lifestyle in some countries.
Many squatters seem to claim large properties, with ample space for living as well as community projects. In Amsterdam, there’s a legalized squat in the former Netherlands Film Academy (OT301) building. It’s now home to a vegan cafe, music performance/rehearsal space, cinema and gallery where [sub]cultural activities take place. When we heard about it, we knew we had to visit.
We had no idea what to expect as we walked down the alley covered in graffiti. When we finally saw the building at the end of the walkway, we weren’t sure how to enter the restaurant. There were no signs. Timidly, we walked through a set of doors to find a hallway covered in more tags. There were four or five doors to choose from. The first was locked, the second was the entrance to De Peper, the vegan cafe. Phew! We were in.
The menu for the day was posted on a chalk board. The first course was a tomato soup, served on a sliver tray that reminded me of something you’d find in a doctor’s office. The soup was light, and nicely seasoned with salt and herbs.
The main plate had several organic vegan offerings. There was a generous portion of brown rice and adzuki beans, as well as a medley of cooked veggies, including tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, corn and onions. My favourite part was the sunflower seed and potato chip creation, which was made from homemade, thinly sliced potatoes and sunflower seeds covered in a sweet glaze, maybe agave or maple syrup. There was even a side salad, and some radish and orange slices for garnish. We were so impressed! All vegan, all organic and only €6.00-€10.00 Euros ($7.45-12.57 USD), pay what you can.
We were so pleased with the soup and main, we decided to shell out an additional €1.50 Eruo ($1.89 USD) and try dessert. It was a bowl of homemade chocolate soy ice cream. It wasn’t fully frozen, a little on the melting side, but still a nice treat.
De Peper surprised and delighted. It turned out to be a very cute cafe, with great food, and budget friendly prices. We enjoyed the experience so much, the next restaurant we ate in was a squat in Utrecht, Netherlands. I’ll be sharing that story next week.
If you’re in Amsterdam and want to eat at De Peper, be sure to visit their website and read up on how to make a reservation and get your meal. There’s no table service, you have to go up to the bar to confirm you’ve arrived and pick up your main. When you’re done eating, you have to bring your plates to the kitchen staff for washing. If you want to take home leftovers, it’s best to bring your own container. Have fun!
Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, dinner 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Tel: (020) 412 2954