What happens when you combine Belgian beer, a cat, and a church? You get the Café Olivier, the top-ranked café in the Netherlands, according to the Misset Horeca Café Top 100 listing. The ranking was announced yesterday at a ceremony in Rotterdam, with pride of place going to the Utrecht café located just steps from the Hoog Catharine.
Café Olivier has been open for around seven years (there’s also a location in Leiden) and is known for its extensive selection of Belgian beer, as well as a knowledgeable staff to help you choose. There are seven varieties always available on tap, and another 60 bottled varieties are available through the menu. They also have an appetizing lunch, dinner, and snacks menu, and yes, that includes mussels.
As if the food and drink selection wasn’t enough to grab your interest, the café is housed in an old church. It’s unassuming from the outside, but when you walk inside for the first time, it’s pretty hard not to be left a bit gob-smacked. I had walked past the café plenty of times and had no idea it was a former church. Thus, the first time I went, I was completely stunned when I emerged through the small entrance that blocks drafts and saw the soaring groin vaulting, clerestory windows, and the old organ.
Despite the grandiose setting, it’s surprisingly gezellig, with various prints and pictures hanging on the walls and warm lighting to complement the wood throughout. And yes, there are various cats to be found in and around the café. Guus seems to be the resident kroegtijger, though.
So, great beer and food, fantastic setting, and a cute cat. It’s no wonder Café Olivier came out on top! If you’re looking for things to do in Utrecht, whether you’re just visiting or live here, I do recommend a visit to the best café in the Netherlands. I’ve been known to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of beers on offer, though, so what’s your favourite Belgian beer?