Friday 11 April 2014

Friday Next, Amsterdam

All of us in the family tend to be rather more prone to dramatics than the average person, and hunger more than anything inspires in us a whole other level of histrionics ("Food now or I will faint here in front of you!"). In D's case, stroppiness happens, and he'll sulk and look increasingly victimized the longer we put off any of our regularly scheduled meals. 

By the time we got into the city of Amsterdam and dumped our bags in the small but clean room we'd booked at Hotel Espresso, it had gone past 2 pm and D was exhibiting every sign of not being alright if we skipped lunch and went straight to the Rijksmuseum. In the face of all the sad looks he was pointedly shooting our way, it became Priority Number One to find something for him to eat, and fast. 

Friday Next just happened to be on the same street as our hotel, along the route we had planned to take to the museum. It was only a minute's walk away from the hotel, but with D looking into each passing shop window in hopes of food, finally chancing upon the cafe was enough for M and I to send our gazes heavenward with thanks. It was one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it storefronts, opening up to a surprisingly roomy interior. We spent many a weekend in my childhood going to visit show flats, which conditioned me to the point where tastefully laid-out home interiors and furniture stores leave me with a sense of bone-deep well-being. So, almost immediately after we entered Friday Next, I felt a great sense of calm wash over me, erasing whatever stress the need to find a place for lunch had inspired.  

The layout seamlessly segued from cafe to store to the studio in the back where the design team work. No matter what angle you approached from, the place looked like something out of a catalogue for stylish modern living. Ikea's possibly the closest mass-market analogue I can come up with, but think on a smaller scale, with quirkier and more considered designs. The place was blessedly calm when we popped in, with the only other customers being a group of young mothers with their very well-behaved children and a hipster-type nursing a cappuccino while making use of the free WiFi. Thankfully, the lunch service was still going strong.

M has a deep and abiding love for home furnishing and decor as well, so after placing our orders from the small but interesting lunch menu the both of us went a bit mental, running hither and yon around the store, trying to take in all the little design flourishes on display. D on the other hand was already thinking about dinner, and spent the time asking our waitress for seafood restaurant recommendations. She was wonderfully obliging and gave us a few excellent suggestions. 

The lunch menu consisted of cafe grub of the soup, salad and sandwich variety, competently executed and served in decently-sized portions. I really enjoyed my fresh roasted vegetable salad, which had a satisfying variety of tastes and textures. Paired with a big glass of ginger, honey and lemon tea, it felt like the healthiest meal I'd had in weeks, with the added benefit of not being bland. 

Cocooned as we were in the relaxed and homey atmosphere of the cafe, it was easy to let go of the stress and panic that came with trying to pack as much as possible into the few days we had in the Netherlands. I think all anxious travellers need to find oases of calm like this where they can take a step back and put everything into perspective, as we thankfully managed to do. With our souls and bodies nourished, we set off for the rest of the day's adventures, and had just enough time to comfortably explore the Rijksmuseum in the end. 

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