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Quote-start

Hanging out at the Hangar

Quote-end
16.03.2013

Advantages:
Nice building, good atmosphere

Disadvantages:
Food a little on the cold side

Recommendable Yes:

33 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (3%):
  1. garymarsh86
very helpful by (97%):
  1. Secre
  2. yazoo88
  3. fizzytom
and 29 other members

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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.

Our visit


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. I picked anchovies with garlic off the ‘fingerfood’ section and a main of tuna with red peppers and fennel served with rosemary potatoes. Karin choose cheese puffs as starter and a main of salmon on spinach risotto. By Antwerp terms – and this does seem to be the city that recession forgot – the prices were pretty good. Our starters were around the €6-8 mark and the main courses €20-25.

Tucking in


We ordered Diet Coke and Coke Zero whilst we waited for the starters to arrive. The waitress returned to ask if I’d meant ‘snails’ rather than anchovies as there were no anchovies on the menu. We showed her there were indeed anchovies and she reluctantly agreed there were. I’m not sure what I was really expecting but certainly the presence of the little fish in the ‘fingerfood’ section meant I was expecting something fairly mess-free. What I got was a bit of a shock – a bowl with what looked like a whole jar of anchovies in oil with ALL the oil in the bowl. These were not the salted anchovies much loathed by many and perpetually picked off pizza. They were white, unsalted anchovy fillets, their halves still joined at the tail and their flesh light in colour. I don’t think I’ve ever been faced with such a large quantity and even after I drained as much of the oil onto the plate on which the bowl stood, there was still more oil than I could deal with. Fingerfood? Only if you don’t mind your fingers and your hands completely covered in fishy-smelling oil. They were tasty but there were just too many for me.

Karin’s plate had four neat and perfectly fried breadcrumb-coated cheese puffs. The insides were soft and intensely cheesy, the outsides crisp and golden brown. Unhealthy in the extreme but the half a puff I pinched was divine. It’s not exactly haute cuisine – a jar of anchovies and some deep-fried cheese so I hoped for more from the mains.

Karin’s salmon was a large piece, criss-crossed by the griddle marks and perched on top of a mass of bright green risotto. I’d known it was spinach risotto but I’d not really prepared myself for quite how garish it would look. My tuna came as two rectangular pieces, sharing the same griddle marks as Karin’s salmon and accompanied by stir fried strips of red pepper and fennel and a mound of skin-on rosemary potatoes. I don’t think they’d been roasted as they seemed very dry on the surface and not at all greasy but I’m not entirely sure how they’d been prepared.

If you’d asked me if I liked fennel I probably would have been ambivalent about it but this was cooked very well and the contrast with the sweet red pepper was very pleasant. I’d have preferred the veg to be fried more lightly and not dripping with oil, but they were tasty. The potatoes were lovely although rosemary is hard to eat and is better picked off the potatoes before you try. The tuna was great quality, cooked to perfection – seared on the outside, a little bit pink in the middle – but was just too cold. Serving it with a weird gravy-like sauce did not excuse the temperature being way too cool for the dish. A few degrees hotter and the tuna would have been close to perfection. I can only think they didn’t heat the plates or left it on the plate too long before serving.

Tea time


With our main courses we each had a glass of wine and when we’d finished eating we ordered fresh peppermint teas. It’s perhaps not the best time of year for fresh peppermint and the tea was a bit weak. Karin went to ask for tea bags to give it a bit more kick and this is something I’ve noticed people in Holland and Belgium often do. The teas were served with small, wrapped butter waffles.

The bill for two of us came to around €86 including drinks. I added five for a tip which got me a look of exasperation from Karin. All my Euro-team think I tip too much and I keep doing it partly to annoy them. I hate to think what reaction they get if they tip badly in the UK or if they ever go to the USA.

Recommendation


On the whole I liked Hangar 41 although the food was a bit of a let down. The anchovies were ridiculous in both quantity and presentation and my tuna was so close to perfect if only they’d got the temperature right. I found the atmosphere pleasant and was pleased that the noise levels were bearable, something probably helped by the high ceilings. The tables were not too close together and I felt we were given plenty of space. I’d consider going again since so many places in Antwerp are really expensive and despite this being rather more than I would expect for what we had, the price was competitive for the local market.

Details


Hangar 41
Sint Michielskaai 41
2000 Antwerpen
http://www.hangareenenveertig.be
Pictures of Hangar 41, Antwerp
Hangar 41, Antwerp Hangar 41, Antwerp
The bar area
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Comments about this review »

hiker 16.03.2013 14:42

Odd, is about the only word I can come up with... not sure Antwerp is top of my list of places to go, but even if it were, I'm not sure I'd be dropping by. Lx

garymarsh86 16.03.2013 12:07

Hmm I like the look of your main. Shame it was not hot though that would really irk me!

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Product Information »

Product details

Long Name Hangar 41
Type Pub
Address 41 Sint-Michielskaai, Antwerp, Belgium
Street 41 Sint-Michielskaai
City Antwerp
County Antwerp
Country Belgium
Continent Europe

Show all Product Information

Review Ratings »

This review of Hangar 41, Antwerp has been rated:

"exceptional" by (3%):

  1. garymarsh86

"very helpful" by (97%):

  1. Secre
  2. yazoo88
  3. fizzytom

and 29 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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