â€œSoul food in Amsterdam?â€ I thought. â€œFood, Music and More!â€ proclaimed the red script font. Intrigued and two months into my Netherland stint, I squeeze into the tight double doors, schoolbag in tow. Squeezing in, is frequent in Amsterdam. Doors are often skinny, a throwback to the cityâ€™s original taxation on width of property, not length.
De La Soul plays on the speakers inside. I breathe easier. Good music earns points with me, striking like blows from a bat laced with good taste. If only the food tastes as amazing as the music sounds.
Multi-colored pillows atop the wooden benches invite. I choose one near the far wall below the gray slate chalkboard, listing the beers on tap. The tableâ€™s yellowed-pine shows sign of old candle wax spills. I like this, it means people stay late and drink passionately. I order a Duval least I ruin tradition.
Scanning the menu, the â€œJamaican Jerk Chicken Nachosâ€ jogs memories of my newly added traditions. Recently, Roman goddess Camilla and I sealed a pact to find a bit of L.A. in the best nachos in Amsterdam. Jerk chicken nachos? Sounds fantastic!
Surveying the room, Iâ€™m the only one with dreads, though the DJâ€™s now playing early Jimmy cliff. Maybe thereâ€™s a recipe for jerk chicken nachos made plain by playing â€œThe harder they come backwards.â€ Either way, Iâ€™m excited.
I question the bartender about the nachos. â€œAmazing,â€ he proclaims. Trusting his suggestion, I sign on, then ask who driving the wagon of good musical taste.
â€œThe whole staff,â€ he laughs. â€œAnd we push to make the selection even better. You have to play music both you and the customers like. They trust us to have great taste, in music and in dining.â€ He welcomes me to Amsterdam, and pours me an Amstel Light.
The nachos arrive prepared in an earthenware dish, still steaming from the oven. No disappointment. It is all goodness derived from crisp lightly-salted tortillas, buried under sharp cheddars, Monterey Jacks and Colbys. Whatâ€™s new is the kick of the peppery-spiced jerk chicken, balanced by a honey-drizzled glaze lending a sweet touch to counter the spice.
The guacamole is sweet to the taste, as well, whipped and fluffy; a first for me. The menagerie of onions, chili-peppers, garlic, and subtle sweetness, sending messages from mouth to brain stating â€œWe are glad youâ€™re steering the ship.â€ This plate rearranges my perspective of where to situate nachos in the hierarchy of my food kingdom.
The plate succumbs to my hunger, and the bartender suggests the tremendous full plate for next time. I like his suggestion.
There is no disappointment at CafÃ© Haarlem, my friends. Explore the menu, so you too, will miss your dining experience when you return home. I count down my own return to Amsterdam on Queenâ€™s Day!
CafÃ© Harlem Haarlemmerstraat 77, 1013 EL Amsterdam, Netherlands +31 20 330 1498 â€Ž
Neftalie Williams is a writer and photographer here for us at In the Know Traveler, but donâ€™t think being whisked off to remote locations and wining and dining in the best places on earth is all he has on his plate. He is also a regular writer and photographer for several publications including, YRB Magazine, Vapors Magazine and Transworld Skateboarding Magazine. In these outlets heâ€™s consistently keeping pace with the pulse of our time, interviewing personaes that range from some of Hollywoods newest rising stars like Jason Lee, to the king of the musical underground Peanut Butter Wolf, he keeps his finger on the trigger and isnâ€™t scared to pull it, as long as it keeps his readers in the know!