Posts Tagged ‘bret’

A Burger and Beer at Bret

Sloterdijk, an area of Amsterdam once so drab and grey that the only thing you wanted to do is get the hell out of there and go home. Once this was area had only office buildings with an occasional hotel in between. Trees and grass were sparsely placed in the jungle of concrete but could be seen from behind your desk just too far to go there in your lunch break.

But Sloterdijk lost its position as the center of business in Amsterdam. Zuid (South) attracted a lot of company headquarters and businesses in Sloterdijk vacated their buildings too for the move south. At the same time Amsterdam was looking for more space for new hotels, something there is a big lack of in the capital. The old office buildings in Sloterdijk are now converted into hotels. A convenient location because both downtown Amsterdam, Zaandam and Haarlem or 10 to 15 minutes away by train.

It is here that a group DSC01150of architects and young ambitious restauranteurs decided to build Bret, with support from local government. You may remember an earlier story I wrote when Thomas Boonstoppel of Nordman Beers led me around what was then still a construction site. It has now been open for about a month and a half and it is going better than expected.

It is going great in that a reservation is needed for lunch and dinner, which I am glad we made. While we were sitting there people kept coming, most were able to sit but some had to be turned away because the container structure was completely full. Good for Bret, unfortunate for the guests.

DSC01155And it’s not because Bret is the only available place to go in that area. It is a good restaurant with a good menu. Because they open at 8 a.m. already you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner apart from the wide selection of beer. Getting a coffee-to-go is a good choice. We started a three day holiday to Rotterdam here but I had my best coffee on the first day here at Bret.

DSC01154They attempt to have the food as fresh and local as possible and it shows because it looks good. We had a burger (with awesome onion relish) and a lentil salad. The menu isn’t pages long but varied enough so that most people can find something they like.

The beer

Beer is of course the reason we went to Bret in the first place. Their beer menu might not rival that of other places in the city but is quite good for the area it is in. Because the guys from Nordman are part of the team running Bret you can find all or most of their beers on tap (3 in our case). It is possible to get 4 small glasses in a tasting paddle, and that is a great thing always and everywhere and something every bar should do.

DSC01151Gulpener is the big contributor so you can find their beers on tap as well, but it is the bottles that are most interesting. Again, nothing you can’t find anywhere else but they try and have beers from most of the bigger Amsterdam breweries so ‘t IJ, Prael, Two Chefs and Oedipus you can find here, as well as a good selection of beers from the country like Emelisse, Uiltje and Jopen.

Their effort to promote Amsterdam beer will have a highlight when this weekend they will host the first Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival in and around Bret. The garden and surrounding area are well suited for this.


Because Bret has barely been open it is hard to say what the future will bring, but things are looking great so far. The building already seems to small! And with the plot of land across the street under development as well we can only hope that it will be yet another highlight in the Dutch beer revolution.


Is Bret worth the trip to Sloterdijk? Yes it is, but for the overall experience of the organic building, the food and the coffee. The beers as I said are decent but nothing unique, it is however a very nice place to drink your Oedipus Mannenliefde. If you are in Amsterdam and want to visit Haarlem or the windmills north of the canal Bret is a perfect starting point. It is well worth visiting this nicely stacked sea container structure.

New Starts I: Bret @ Sloterdijk

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.

No brewery

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.


Nordman Beers



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