Warehousing with a difference
Another trip to Antwerp and with the annual appraisals out of the way, it was a chance to take my local colleague Karin for dinner to celebrate. She picked a place near the river, an old converted warehouse called Hangar 41 – or to give it its full name ‘Hangar Eenenveertig’. It’s a place she said she used to go quite often but where she’d not been back to in quite some time. She was confident they would have something suitable for non-meat-eating me.
The address is Sint Michielskaai 41 and so should identify for those who know Antwerp, that it’s on St Michael’s Quay. We drove into the city and along the riverside and parked in what may well be one of the ugliest but and one of very few free car parks in the city. There were a lot of campervans and white vans and I wondered if poor chilly souls were camping out there with the snow on the ground.
Hangar 41 styles itself as a ‘contemporary grand café’ and I can sort of see where they’re coming from though the fit with an old warehouse seems a bit strange. They’ve created something that reminds me of a traditional grand café out of a building which logically really ought to sit at the other end of the grandeur scale. The windows are huge and must flood the place with light during the day – not so much at 7.30 in the evening although it was still light when we arrived. The walls are bare brick, there are giant sparkling mirrors, deep brown painted walls, wooden floors and lights suspended on long wires. The lighting was actually pretty weird as several times during the evening we felt as if someone had just turned the dimmer switch a tad too far leaving our eyes to readjust to increasingly dim conditions. The bar is a long slab of wood with neat curved stools lined up along it and with bottles glimmering beneath large mirrors.
We had booked – well sort of. We’d called a few minutes before we set off but they had our name and there was a ‘reserved’ sign on the table we were shown to. I was initially a little concerned that they’d put us at the table right next to the door and right next to a large old radiator. I simultaneously feared being too hot AND sitting in a draught. There was a curved curtain rail with a heavy velvet curtain to minimise the in-rush of cold air each time anyone entered and this seemed to be doing the job pretty well.
Tables are wooden and without cloths. There’s a menu as well as specials written up on blackboards and the choice is not too extensive. There are enough dishes to not restrict you without there being so many that it’s impossible to choose. The menu is broken up into sections and its in Flemish. I don’t know if there’s an English translation but if you’re stuck, tell the waiter or waitress the sort of thing you fancy and I’m sure they’ll help you out.
There’s a breakfast menu served until noon or 2pm at the weekends. Clearly people sleep late. There’s a snack menu and a sandwich menu available until 6 pm. For the evening the menu splits into ‘fingerfood’, soups, dishes for children, salads, starters, pasta, big main courses, and puddings.