Even passing by, it’s clear Stalles’ owners are warmly disposed towards your average Rotterdam student. “Pizzas and pasta, starting at € 3.50” says a large banner in front of the door. Succumbing to the temptation, your reviewer soon finds himself inside, under a collection of wonderful lamps made from Bacardi and Coke bottles.
At any rate, the deco – with the typical dark wood panelling, faded posters from the 1950s and reindeer heads – bodes well. A cheerful waitress arrives with a menu that says ‘Extra Large Menu’. And it’s true: the thing’s huge. The boss thought it would be cool, admits the waitress.
But then: there’s no way you could fit 115 kinds of whiskey and 80 different specialty beers on a small menu, even though it feels weird to unfold such an expanse of paper. It’s almost as if – for the grubby bastards among our readership – you’re opening the centrefold of a nudie mag.
Stalles specialises in pizza. Which is strange. After all, in a brown café you’d expect chicken satay and bitterballen, not pizza. It turns out to be “at bit of fun” on the part of the management: “You wouldn’t expect it here, which is precisely why we’re doing it.”
The pizzas themselves are no joke, however – although they’re still outclassed by the ones made by our Italian friends. At the table next to us, a fellow gets his sent back to the kitchen, while his mate is laying on the Tabasco. But then, five euros… At that price, the value for money is excellent.
The playlist is rock-ish kind of music; the mirror in the gents’ is covered with Tegendraads stickers. Some customers are wearing hats. Nevertheless, the place isn’t dominated by one specific type of patron – although Stalles will probably be more popular with the guys. Interestingly, they’ve even got a chessboard set up and waiting. A wide range of options, in other words. “We’re not hip; we’re accessible.”
One of the bar crew – “I was hired because I hung around here so often” – is being joshed by his colleagues. Why? Sam Smith suddenly pops up on his playlist. Anguished roars.
Anything goes in Stalles. Except Sam Smith that is.