Meeting the creatives behind Amsterdam's new hotspot Lion Noir

Meeting the creatives behind Amsterdam’s new hotspot Lion Noir

Apr 21, 2011 |  by  |  Spots
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As a little girl I would often fantasize about getting lost in a secret garden, pretending to be Alice in Wonderland. Even though I have been living in Amsterdam for many years now, I still find myself on a quest for these places where feelings of being a free and careless girl come up again. Imagine my delight when I had the chance to meet the creative brains behind my new favourite hotspot: Lion Noir.

The unique interior

Accompanied by our spots mapper Faye and new editor Xaviera, I met one of Lion Noir’s owners Serge Rijn. We sat down in the recently opened restaurant/bar in the heart of Amsterdam and I was immediately impressed. At first glance the atmosphere was elegant yet comfortable: freaky objects spread throughout the bar area, such as the bone structure of a dog and jars containing mushrooms from 1910 that somewhat reminded me of embryos.

Lion Noir is like a modern freak cabinet, we combine pieces that really make no sense, but look surprisingly well together

“We wanted to create a place that Amsterdam had not seen before,” Serge said when we, being the girls that we are, reacted shocked and amused at the sight of the dog’s skeleton. “It’s supposed to be kind of a freak cabinet, a place where all strange things come together and in a weird way make sense,” he continued. I can safely say that they have succeeded in making that last bit happen.

Lion Noir – The jars with mushrooms from 1910

The secret Garden

Still in awe, Serge took us out to the back part of the restaurant, and there it was: the secret garden that I had always dreamt about as a kid. Calm and green, serene and romantic: the perfect spot for a calm and quite afternoon tea, or a smashing classic cocktail.

Serge told us that this was the exact feeling he wanted his guests of Lion Noir to experience. “When you enter this garden, you should feel at ease straight away. We are not trying to be pretentious, nor do we force this place to be a ‘hotspot’. With everything green, this is very cozy and warm which should make our guests feel at home. Eventually, this is one of the most important thing for us; being able to make our guests feel content.”

Lion Noir – The secret garden

Lion Noir – Bar area

The atmosphere

While looking around the garden where we were sitting, I noticed that the crowd was a mix of pretty much everything: young, old, businessmen and girls who were just relaxing and reading magazines. Pretty impressive if you ask me, since the hotspots of Amsterdam usually fill up quickly with customers who can make you feel quite uncomfortable. “Everyone is welcome here,” Serge stressed. “The mix of people visiting us, is one of the things I am most proud of”.

Everyone is welcome at Lion Noir, I love the mix and energy of our guests, it suits the Amsterdam spirit.

Serge’s Amsterdam favourites

The choice to locate Lion Noir in Amsterdam was an easy one for Serge and his business partners. “Amsterdam is to me the perfect place where different people with different tastes come together. It has the best synergy and although you can find many ‘hip’ places, in most joints the vibe is relaxed and fun.” When I asked him to name his favourite place in Amsterdam, Serge immediately said: “For me, going to the Goudfazant is always a special treat, because of the amazing food and an even better vibe. If I want to be closer to the city centre, Bo5 is always satisfying.”

My opinion on Lion Noir

After this chat with Serge and learning more about the ideas behind Lion Noir, I have to hand it to them: this is truly one of the most original and creative restaurants in Amsterdam that I have seen so far. The residence itself is spectacular and one of Amsterdam’s oldest and monumental coach-houses. Every single furniture piece is unique. Most come from Paris and have been hand picked by Serge’s business partner Casper Reinders (from Jimmy Woo, Bo5) and Thijs Murre. I wish I could have taken some of the pieces home with me, such as the 30-year-old school table with detachable cupboards, or the jars with the mushrooms. I am yet to actually taste the menu here, but as far as my eyes could taste, I will be present in ‘my’ secret garden this summer a lot.

Lion Noir, the facts

Price: €39,50 starting price for a three course meal
Serge’s Recommendations:

  • Starter: Dutch white aspargus with Iberico ham, broadbeans and tapenade €14,50
  • Main: Roasted free range spring chicken with polenta, parmazan, rucola & morilles sauce €22,50
  • Desert: Baileys parfait served with marinated pineapple and a mint marshmallow €7,00

Location: Reguliersdwarstraat 28, 1017 BM Amsterdam

Photography by Xaviera Wong A Soy

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