Since we’ve all just had a busy week, Amber, the photographer and I aren’t exactly in a holiday kind of mood the night we visit Ayla. In other words, it’s the perfect time to go into town and look for an exotic place that will take us higher for a few hours. It’s 7.30 on a Thursday evening when we enter Ayla. In the next two hours, we’ll forget all the stuff that’s been on our mind this week.
Home made brewage
Back in the old days this was a snack bar where punters could enjoy a kapsalon (chips with shawarma, melted cheese, iceberg lettuce) with strange dudes until the wee hours of the morning. Not that you can tell that from the interior, or smell it, for that matter. The place has been open for meals and drinks since 2016. When we enter, we are given a warm welcome by our host, John. The place is packed; if we want a table, we’ll have to wait a little while. But we actually wish to sit at the bar, which turns out to be a good decision. We sit down on the colourful bar stools, with large hams and bulbs of garlic hanging above our heads. From here we have a great view of the wide range of drinks, pots and pitchers behind the bar. The various types of home made brewage aren’t just for decorative purposes: they are actually used in the cocktails. In order to quench our thirst, we start off by ordering some beers, and they taste exactly as they should.
Snacks, cocktails and entertainment
It’s not easy to choose a meal, because the menu is very extensive. It’s a pity we’re not all that hungry, as the Mediterranean dishes look great. All meals are meant to be shared, and what with a menu boasting meat, fish and vegetarian options, everyone will be able to find something to their liking here. If you’re looking for a romantic spot for your Tinder date, this is the perfect place, because shared dining is the height of romance. And when your parents next leave their home in the sticks to come and see you in Rotterdam, Ayla will be that lovely and exotic place where you can convince your parents that, yes, you are getting enough sleep, and yes, you’ll have plenty of time to improve your marks this semester.
We decide to order a semi-healthy snack: cauliflower tempura, i.e. battered and deep-fried cauliflower. We have to wait twenty minutes for our small snack to arrive, but it’s worth the wait. It’s exactly the kind of salty snack you want with your drink. So what exactly do you drink with it? A cocktail, obviously. I choose one with vanilla vodka, passion fruit juice and some chilli pepper. Amber is having a hard time deciding what kind of drink to order, but the bartender, Aquiles, solves that problem for her, fixing her with something to her liking on the spot. He performs the usual, ever-entertaining drink-mixing show for us, and our neighbours at the bar clink their glasses with us. The resulting cocktails taste moreish.
Ayla is definitely not a studenty kind of place, but it has a wonderful vibe and is incredibly hip. The interior is very colourful and the toilets are gender-neutral. There is a lot of laughter or animated chatting at every table, the lights have been dimmed and the music has exactly the right volume. We think the average age of the diners is between 25 and 35. But hey, if you’re after a decadent kind of night, this is a great place. And it’s on your way to the city centre, too, so if you feel like making a serious night of it, you can always find yourself a sweaty club afterwards and join your fellow students on the dance floor.