Ow. Your critic makes his first error as he enters. De Pijp is not a pub, he learns. It’s a restaurant, which started in 1898 as a beer shop. You can have a beer, as long as you order a steak or some fish – a bit expensive, because decadent – as well.
That’s how it works in De Pijp, a little piece of heaven for every fan of the corps. The place is infused with tradition, bursting with the nicest details. See the long wooden tables – ‘three of them were pulled out of the rubble of the bombardment’ – where punters sit together, spitting out peanut shells onto the ground, and all the ties on the ceiling.
These ties are from fans who are desperate to own a ‘Pijp tie’ – only two thousand were made. The rule: don’t ask for one, just donate your own tie and hope for the best.
Another ritual: every evening at 9.00 p.m. on the dot, the staff, mostly ‘venerable’ RSC members, have a beer. As they drink, they dribble the beer out of their mouth. Newbies catch the drops on their ties; the older ones can keep them dry.
God knows what that’s all about. But it’s fun.
As are all the stories. The waiter knows them by heart. He talks about how De Pijp used to be a pocket of resistance during the Second World War. One time, a German general came to eat here. The chef apparently chucked sand into his mussels. The general was never seen at the restaurant again.
De Pijp is not corps property, but it does have close historic links with the members. Most of the punters are former members. You can hear it at table. There the punters – suited and booted – talk about ‘career tigers’ and tennis matches. Also heard: “He’s quite nice when he’s not drunk.”
And: “All the uproar will pass. The initiation used to be much worse, now there’s much more supervision. Now Youp van ’t Hek writes a bitter article and that’s it.” And then onto another subject. “We mustn’t make it bigger than it is.”
But the atmosphere is good in such an historic venue where the kitchen is situated between the long tables. Under dimmed light, your critic is even offered a half eaten dessert by his neighbour. He refuses, but small talk is easy at such a huge table.
Nothing should change at De Pijp. Not in 2016 either.