The Best Café in the Netherlands

Café Cat [Day 71/365]
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.
Café Olivier [Day 152/365]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?
Belgian Beer Bar

A Few of the Cats in Utrecht

Kat in de Stad
We saw a number of cats today while we were walking through town, and I managed to get some shots of most of them. The first one here is one that I’ve posted about before. S/he can usually be found in this exact spot and there’s a reason for it. Look closely at the next photo and you can probably figure it out.
I’m not sure if the cat can read and has simply been fooled or if the cover that I felt further down the street that said “warmte” just wasn’t as warm as the two the cat sits on. Regardless, s/he seemed to be smiling.

Lots of shops and restaurants have cats that live there, surely as extra insurance against any unwanted invaders of the furry kind. You will often see the cats hanging out in the front windows, people watching and probably soaking up any heat. I think this next cat was enjoying all the extra heat from the lamp displays. (This just in, a Twitter contact told me the cat is appropriately — for a light shop — called Spot.)
Licht Kat

Finally, as distracting as the red shutters may be, if you look closely, you’ll see a cat down by the bicycles.
Donkerstraat Kat
Admittedly, my two cats aren’t exactly the biggest cats, but this black and white cat was pretty big!
Donkerstraat Kat
Fans of cats and Utrecht should also check out the book Kat in de Stad.

Also, if you’re an expat in the Netherlands and you brought a pet (of any sort) with you when you moved here, the author of Kat in de Stad and I are interested in getting in touch with you to include you in a book about expats and their pets. Get in touch with either of us if you’d be interested and your pet is still with you.