More unique than a night at Gare du Nord is almost impossible. At Gare du Nord you dine in an antique railway wagon and enjoy a fully plant based and biological kitchen. Sounds good, right?
In 2014, an antique railway wagon was placed on a dilapidated site at the Zomerhofkwartier. The site itself was turned into a green abundant vegetable garden. This picture still looks a bit surreal between the somewhat desolated buildings with satellite dishes. At this remarkable spot near the Hofbogen and behind the newly opened Marché010 you find Gare du Nord, one of the few fully vegan restaurants in Rotterdam.
The name of the restaurant obviously refers to its location in the north of the city ánd its special housing. The stunning railcar dates from 1980 and originates from the former DDR. The yellow, green and brown colours of the wagon give us an instant vintage feel and that carries on when entering the wagon. Even the old German signs with the safety regulations and the train route are still in place! The wagon wasn’t originally used as a restaurant, but passengers car. With some old photographs – you can see them when entering the wagon next to the big mirror – and original furniture from that era, the interior of the wagon was transformed into that of an antique train restaurant.
In front of the train lies a big vegetable garden with picnic tables and other seating areas. The garden looks a bit neglected at the moment and only supplies fresh herbs like sage and peppermint, but in a while the garden will be growing and blossoming with all sorts of treats for the restaurant kitchen again. With nice weather the garden is a lovely spot to enjoy the sun, while children are playing and running around between the home-grown veggies. We can understand why the Dudok group – including for example Vicini and Mart Café – bought and continued this unique restaurant after its bankruptcy earlier this year!
We take a seat at the table reserved for us – with the sign “Hotspot”. We count around forty seats and see how the chefs in the small kitchen in the back of the wagon are preparing the food for the evening. Because of this limited capacity of the train, the restaurants offers reservations for two shifts in the weekends, one at 6 PM and one at 8 PM. The tables are perfectly set with white table linen, some flowers and white dishes, but the atmosphere isn’t stiff at all. Most of the staff actually wears a pair of jeans. We don’t see anything of the sandal-wearing cliché of the vegan kitchen here. The special location and the vegan kitchen doesn’t just attract fanatic vegans at all, but the public of this evening is very young and diverse.
We choose a ginger beer and an elderflower soda from the biological beverage chart – we later have a glass of biological wine. The menu also offers lunches and shows the fixed evening menu of that week, as Gare du Nord offers a weekly changing fixed menu in the evenings which is announced on the Facebook page of the restaurant each week. Especially the recurring Asian menu is a big success each time! Because of this fixed menu the chefs are not only able to cook for larger groups in their small train kitchen, this also limits the food waste.
And that perfectly fits the goals of Gare du Nord. Because at this spot you eat biological, vegan ánd sustainable. Vegan, yes! So no meat on the weekly menu, as the vegan kitchen is fully plant based and doesn’t use meat, fish or animal products. The chefs of Gare du Nord eat vegan themselves and are masters in the plant based kitchen. They show a larger public that it is possible to have a delicious ánd substantial meal without the use of animal products. This is a positive way to bring some attention to the vegan message that the world would be a better place if all of us would eat less meat and animal products, the owner explains.
Our plant based four course dinner starts with an amuse of carrot with tomato chutney. Our starter is a creamy parsnip soup and after that a beautiful plate is served with pomme duchess, stroganoff seitan, green asparagus and grilled zucchini with citrus chutney. Our dessert has three small cakes, including a vegan cheesecake with dates and a cheese layer of – well-known ingredients to the insiders of the vegan kitchen – soy and agar agar. We fully enjoy all the dishes and don’t miss meat of animal products at all. On the contrary, the dishes makes us curious about the other weekly menus, especially the Asian one!
Even though vegan and vegetarian people have a lot of good spots to go to in Rotterdam, only a few of them have a entirely vegan menu. Gare du Nord is therefore a nice addition to the Rotterdam vegan cuisine, but don’t be mistaken: the plant based kitchen of Gare du Nord is definitely not just for vegans. With bellies full and no sense of any lack of meat at all, even meat eaters will leave this wonderful location at the end of their evening.
The interesting encounter with the vegan kitchen and the special location make an evening at Gare du Nord a true experience. We fell in love with the antique train wagon with its special vintage atmosphere. So if the dream of the current owner – one or two trains on top of the Hofbogen – will come true, we will be the firsts to visit for sure!
Address: Anthoniestraat 2
Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday: 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM