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.

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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.

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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.

EM_Kroeg template EN Stalles
Eric-Kroegrecensie 1-uitsnede