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The posh Breda suburb of Ginneken has many fancy and not so fancy restaurants that I really should have explored in the 5 or so months I've spent in Breda over the last year. Unfortunately I only came to know of its existence near the end of my previous trip last summer. Now winter is not a time you want to go for a 30 minute traipse to eat while dodging the kamikaze bicycles. I therefore wait to get a lift off my mate, and so I've been exploring a bit more.
Oncle Jean (I'm taking a stab in the dark here and guessing this means Uncle Jean) is a restaurant on the main road through Ginneken. In common with many of the restaurants and bars in the area, it has a old style, turn of the century, feel to it. The walls have a fading wallpaper effect with old advertisements for things like Martini on, and some mirrors. Old bottles and atrifacts line the shelves. A mainly wooden fited out décor is joined by a lot of small wooden tables, suitable for 2 or 4 people. There are a couple of much bigger tables. To the left of the entrance is a slightly raised platform which has a couple of tables for 2, and for some reason I find this really appealing to site in; it feels like you've got the expensive tables, as in olden times. On the tables are red cables dripping all over their bottle stands. Another thing I noted was some iron chandeliers with an arrangement of 3 big round lights on them; quite striking, I thought. The mostly wooden floor changes to tiling surrounding the bar. Easy listening tunes wafted through at a reasonably low level.
The bar in in the middle, just behind the entrance, and it looks like something from 1920s gangster films; square, surrounded
by high bar stools, a shelf for glasses above it. It strikes me that had they not killed all the bars back home which shiny chrome fittings, we could still have nice places like this at home that would cater for all ages. Sadly (feel free to disagree with me), the market in UK town centres seems to cater almost exclusively for young, heavy spending and drinking clientele. Well at least in the South, anyway.
This really seems like a family place; one group with kids was near us and were happily chatting to the waitress for a while, which their kids ordered sandwiches I expect (early bread indoctrination).
I've been here on 2 occasions and been equally impressed both times by their ability to make ostensibly simple dishes in an understated and yet very appetising manner.
On both occasions, my friend had the "XXL burger". The burger was huge! Served in a white bap, it was surrounded by bits of lettuce and topped with mayo, tomatoes and mild cheese. I am assured it was very tasty and filling. The meat was lean, succulent and well cooked. The burger was apparently even better the second time around.
The first time I went, my salmon sandwich was in the form of a dark granary seeded roll, the smoked salmon wedged inside it. Along with the salmon was capers, some herbed cream cheese and watercress. It was absolutely delicious! When I looked at the roll I had my doubts but one bite was enough to convince me. The soft roll, cream cheese and salmon hit was superb. I had expected a harder roll, but I keep on forgetting just how good the bread here really is.
The second time, I ordered a pitta with lamb mince. The pitta bread itself was soft and tasty. Topped off with some mild melted cheese, the pitta contained minced lamb, some lettuce underneath and chopped red green and yellow peppers, This was a nice dish, the perfect sized portion for lunch. It was quite tasty and the meat was lean. As my friend noted, I had almost cleaned the plate, so it must have been good. This had a little dish of sweet chilli sauce served on the side. This was nice, but I prefer my chilli hot rather than sweet. It did complement the dish well, though.
We ordered some French fries as a side dish. According to my friend who seems to be very good at working out this kind of thing, they were frozen, but nevertheless pretty appetising. They were dry, crispy, a nice size and not greasy at all. The "frite saus" served with it, which I think is mayonnaise, was nice and creamy, perfect for dipping.
The service was pretty good; efficient and polite. We didn't have to wait too long for out food. I felt sorry for the lone waitress running round to help everyone, but she maintained her friendliness and poise, so well done to her, it can't have been easy. I commend her hard work and poise. Which really is a complement coming from me in this country.
FUN WITH BABEL FISH
From their website:
"If you are at Oncle Jean binnengestapt once, with these and gene what has held relaxing conversations... when you have done yourself credit balance to the surprises of the kitchen... then get you the feeling that something to the hand is there with your differently this way neat seizure on time and space. Oncle Jean are a marvellous mixing of present and past, of Ginneken and France. From its list to the wall, but also with something peinzends in its can, everything incorporate Oncle Jean in itself. The Brabantine-bourgondische-Burgundian environment of the matter turns him into Ginnekens variant of Rodin's "Le paunch EUR". He thinks undoubtedly of in former days, now and soon. Under its portrait with right are able stand: "in the present the past lies, in now what".
Then Oncle Jean originate from legendary hotel-cafe-restaurant ' brabant ', the spot, no, the bosom where the heart of Ginneken was correct. When this matter will close, a bit Ginneken was damaged. The gemis did itself feel already rapidly. More strongly still, here something could be repaired! After the necessary verbouwingen the former interieur rose again, including porcelains beer pump, pianola, old photograph, plates, mirrors for a large part, as well as worthy billiards. All this illuminates by a warm nostalgic gloed from luchters of weleer. Spring 1976 opened the café. The opening of the large room did not follow much later and in the course of years the room accommodation was further extended. But nevertheless, in spite of the inviting character and how pleasant there was also; the matter remained something missing. Et voilà. Maître the Cuisine, specialised in the French/Italian kitchen, appeared at tonele and Courts refined with him. As from that moment Oncle Jean stood well on the card..."
I like this place at weekends at it's usually not too busy and offers a quiet place to relax and chew the fat. The simple food on the lunch menu is excellent, the prices reasonable, the service good and the atmosphere suitably convivial. I would highly recommend this for a weekend lunchtime.
Oncle Jean, Ginnekenweg 338, 4835 NM Breda Ginneken The Netherlands