It’s Friday night. You’ve done the classic drinks-after-work-and-suddenly-it’s-midnight thing. And you want meat. Lots of it. But everywhere’s shut. Except McDonald’s, which is a heinous crime and you know it. (And besides, it really doesn’t count as meat.)
So where to go? Castell may be just off the Leidseplein, but it manages to attract a trendier crowd than its Hard Rock counterparts. There are a few tourists, but it’s largely twentysomething locals in boots and short skirts. Not to be confused with the waitresses, who are equally image conscious.
The tables are large and low, lit by what appear to be enormous wicker poker lamps. The food comes on wooden chopping boards, which sit on wicker placemats ready to perch on your lap. I’ve never been a huge fan of lap dining (surely sitting up straight is a prerequisite to good digestion? or am I just suffering from premature middle-age?) but it sort of adds to the atmosphere of studied post-teenage cool louche, I suppose.
The menu isn’t cheap, but then again you wouldn’t expect to pay a pittance for an entire rack of lamb or a whole side of ribs. The meat is excellently butchered, marinated and cooked as much or as little as you want it to be. I’d recommend ordering a jacket potato and a salad between two, to offer some respite from the mountain of meat you’ll be ploughing through.
Oh, and make sure you ask to see the menu before the waitress talks you into a bottle of Rioja when you’ve not yet seen the price. They don’t make her that beautiful for no reason.
While I could happily eat half the amount of meat for a fraction of the price (and I’m no veggie), if you’ve got a boy to impress he’ll be in carnivore heaven. Just brace yourself for the fact that he’ll probably be in waitress/random-female-customer heaven at the same time.