Het Witte Huis is the kind of place you visit for its inn-like vibe: unplastered walls, dripping candles and tough bartenders. And for its waiter, who, thanks to his lank hair and bushy beard, bears an astonishing resemblance to Jesus.
The scene is almost reminiscent of the Middle Ages. Walls are bare, except for a few candles lighting things up. One of the walls features a roundish hole rather than a proper doorway. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture a minstrel walking in through this archway. And then there’s the equally nostalgia-inducing china cupboard behind the bar, the kind you’ll find at your grandmother’s home.
Anyhow, back to the present, where Jesus, rather than handing us a menu, presents us with a message: “I’ll ask what our chef is capable of serving up today.” As it happens, the chef is capable of a lot. Out of a whole slew of options, the things I remember are the steak and the hamburger, and I end up choosing the steak, which is very flavoursome, but also very chewy. The waiter serves some beer which spills all over the floor. This spillage is a good sign – we wouldn’t want our pub to be a completely sterile place, would we?
Sitting in the rue de la bière, as a sign above my table informs me, I have a great view of the packed bar. A group of men who speak English and are wearing fisherman’s hats are having a great time requesting songs from Jesus. And so I find myself listening to a Christmas song on a spring day… Elsewhere in the pub, two men are ordering serve after serve of bitterballen.
What struck me is how packed the place is, considering that I was visiting on a weekday. However, it doesn’t get really packed until Friday evenings, when the pub, located in what was once Europe’s tallest tower, is full of students. Thankfully, summer is on its way, which means there will be picnic tables out on the pavement, thus creating dozens of additional outdoor seats – wonderful seats, with a view of the boats in the Old Harbour.
Then there’s the matter of the bill. This is where it gets exciting, because there was no menu, nor a price list on the pub’s website. However, it turns out the bill isn’t too bad; no need for a hallelujah. Oh, and as for Jesus, his name turns out to be Frank. I’d never have guessed that, but it says so on the bill. I will keep this in mind the next time I visit Het Witte Huis, because I’m sure to go back there at some point.