Saturday, September 24, 2005

Haarlem's Cafe Briljant.

Rob is the patient, hard-working and beer-loving proprietor of the Café Briljant, which happens to be my friend Boris’s “local” café in Haarlem, Netherlands.

(Kim, Rob, the Curmudgeon and Dewi at the Jopen beer festival)

The café is located on a quiet side street and is frequented by a diverse cross-section of the city’s lovers of well-tended ale (the local Jopen and belgium’s La Chouffe, among others) and a civilized atmosphere in which to enjoy them.

My first visit to the Café Briljant came in 2004, when Kevin Lowber and I closed the highly successful Tour de Trappist bicycle adventure with three days on Boris’s floor and an evening or two of café crawling with him and our new friends Bill and Inge.

Unfortunately, Rob was unavailable for duty in July, 2004, having been packed off for a long overdue break by the café’s regular customers, who were concerned that he hadn’t had a vacation in more than two years, pooled their resources to organize a holiday for him, and volunteered for bar duty in his absence.

Now that’s appreciation.

For an evening’s session or a nightcap after dining in one of Haarlem’s seemingly endless supply of fine restaurants, Café Briljant is the ideal stop, neither loud nor boisterous, and suited for conversation and one of Rob’s thoughtfully chosen drafts and bottles. It seems that single malt lovers also have been known to savor a tipple at the small, comfortable café. Rob’s web site, although in Dutch, is regularly updated and amply illustrates the range of activities that emanate from behind the bar.

I’ve never gotten around to compiling an official list of “sister bars” to Rich O’s, but if such a list ever is assembled, you can bet that the Café Briljant will be on it.

(Photo of the cafe's interior is from Rob's web site)

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