Here it is, the first article of 2015. Our year started with the birth of our son and because of this new start for us I have decided that this year will be the year of starts. New breweries, festivals, bars, anything to do with Dutch craft beer of course. Today’s article is about a new restaurant / beer bar that will open in April in the western part of Amsterdam: Bret.
Playing Legos with containers.
It was a day when the temperatures were hovering around the point of freezing when Thomas Boonstoppel, one of the two guys running Nordman, showed me around the construction site of a new project in the west of Amsterdam they will be a part of. Next to the Sloterdijk railway station a jenga tower of red containers is being constructed. In the end of April this will become ‘Bret’ , a organic food bar that will serve great craft beer.
The Sloterdijk railway station connects the city with the rest of the country above the IJ canal, with most of the Western cities and also to the harbor of Amsterdam next to it. Large multinational companies have left the area to relocate to the new boom part of Amsterdam around the World Trade Center railway station to the south. This led the city to a decision that parts of this area needed a new purpose, to remodel this area into something else than a place where people work and then leave. The companies leaving the office space means empty buildings but the location meant hotels got interested and this is now the new market. With people staying there overnight new restaurants and bars are slowly trying to get a foothold in this area.
The idea for Bret is not entirely Nordmans idea. They already had plans to open a German-style beergarten somewhere in Amsterdam and were walking around looking for help. They came across someone who was already working on a new idea, which is now Bret and Nordman fit perfectly in the idea. This will give Bret a multipurpose designation. A beer bar, but also a diner type place for coffee, sandwiches and other to-go stuff, all for reasonable prizes. It will also be a little slice of green heaven in concrete. In the building there is also room for theater shows and beer workshops.
The name Bret fits the purpose beautifully, but is not named for the kind of yeast that makes your Orval so tasty. The area nearby is called the Brettenzone, and trees from this area have been incorporated into the building.
The idea of turning containers into a structure isn’t new. The first thing it reminded me of was the Frau Geroltsgarten in Zurich. In a jungle of mostly concrete Zurich-West is in the middle of an urban renewal renaissance. Old factory buildings are turned into office space, restaurants and shops, sometimes with some of the factory gear still in place. Spaces under bridges are now small companies or daycare centers. In this area someone played Legos with sea containers to build a garden that is part art center, part food center. A restaurant offers homemade food, with some of the ingredients being produced on the actual site. You can eat your bowl of chili sitting next to the herbs that were cut a few hours before to be a part of your meal.
They contemplated brewing at this location for a while, but the building is too small to build a brewing installation. A small one would work, but there is no chance of any expansion if they ever feel the need to do this in the building. But across the road they can use the land for several things. Plans galore: a beergarten, actual gardens for food, and who knows, a brewery for Nordman. You can follow the plans on the Facebook page for the garden. The ideas so far look great.
Opening and festival
Opening of Bret is slated for April 27th. It will also be the sight of the first Amsterdam Craft Beer festival on June 13th and 14th. A new festival with beer, food and music. Names so far are De Prael and Two Chefs, but more will follow. Finally a reason to take the train or subway to Sloterdijk for something else than work. Follow the website for further information.