Meet and Eat: Grand Café-Restaurant 1e Klas

Meet and Eat: Grand Café-Restaurant 1e Klas

Feb 24, 2012 |  by  |  Spots
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The Grand Café-Restaurant 1e Klas is ensconced in a wonderfully obscure part of the Amsterdam Centraal train station. Centraal is low ceilinged; its narrow platforms poorly serviced by escalators and the gaggle of platform roofs are woeful compared to the soaring edifices of Gare du Paris or New York’s Grand Central. Internally it is a confusing warren of tunnels and ‘ongezellige’ funnels. And yet nestled away on platform 2B next to Burger King, the restaurant 1e Klas is something to appreciate.

Entering the restaurant I am immediately transported back to an earlier time. The ceiling is twice normal height with coffered arches alluding to the steel arches covering the platforms and harking back to the era of Murder on the Orient Express. I expect to see Inspector Poirot pivot into the café at any moment and declaim grandly that the hunch-backed retired Colonel did it. Elevated palms in pots dot the room, lending a tropical air. Three clocks note the time in Amsterdam, New York and Tokyo in case you were planning on placing a long-distance call with the radio telegraph operator crouched in some alcove.

A different world

The floor is a dark herringbone-pattern parquet, a caressing winters light envelops the lunch diners as they tuck into their hearty fare but what really draws the eye is the elaborate wallpaper. It towers over the diners with a majesty that is a wonderful juxtaposition to the two scruffy punters scoffing croquettes. The intricate green, gold and burgundy flowers and thistles frolic amidst fluted Corinthian columns. Chinese porcelain vases stand aloof on their pedestals. I imagine Dowager Countesses relating the latest gossip over you know who, industrialists swapping insider tips over balloon glasses of cognac and an indulgent grandmother, regal in her fur, treating her grandchildren to something sweet.

In reality the room is peopled by a generally grey-haired clientèle served by waiters wear bow-ties. Some business meetings are under way. Elderly couples take breathers before heading back to Enkhuizen or Zeeland after their shopping trips. A retired stockbroker is perusing Le Figaro. A couple married forty years and still in love are demolishing a carafe of red wine and a doting mother is treating her grown son to steak and fries.

There is a white cockatoo named Elvis perched on the bar determinedly gnawing at the stainless steel tray that surrounds its perch. I had supposed it could fly off at any moment, pausing on the way to claw out the eyes of some unlucky patron. However I am informed that its wings have been clipped.

Once here, you feel cosseted. Insulated from the clanging world of steel and smoke that takes place right outside as you peer out onto the platform and watch the locomotives as they unceasingly shunt humanity from place to place.

Grand Café-Restaurant 1e Klas
Where: Platform 2B, Amsterdam Centraal
Times: Seven days a week, 08:30-23:00

  • Coffee – €2,65
  • Omelette – €8,50
  • Three-course meal – €25

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