“A tulip by any other name would smell as sweet” William Shakespeare said that, or something similar, and was probably having some prophetic foresight into the many names given to our fave Tulp (as it always has been officially) known to all the Brits as Tulip, and now having extended their name to Tulipan.
So what’s it all about then?
Well simply Tulp is the Dutch for Tulip, and Tulipan the Spanish (forget the buttery spread).
We can announce that they have taken the plunge and the official name is now definitely Tulipan.
Confused? Don’t worry about it, just go there and after an hour with a couple of cocktails you really won’t care.
Review Tulp.. Tulip.. Tulipan ..
- Nick Gibbs
My own fondness for Dutch food was developed way back in the days of school trips and the rather odd concept by today’s standards of the ’booze cruise’ on which families would endure the worst of the North Sea on rolling boats to gain the duty free advantages on Alcohol and Tobacco bestowed upon our European neighbours. Though sometimes a lux version would include a longer stay and venturing inland, quite often the procedure was to disembark, follow our Dads around the closest ’fag n ale’ superstore listening to gasps of awe as to how much more cheaply the worst habit in the history of the world could be maintained, and then an hour or so on a bleak and windswept seafront, the booze cruise season being very much when nobody else in their right mind would cross the North sea. In it’s bleak greyness the seafronts resembled those along the corresponding stretch of coast across the water, but the ports and resorts of Belgium and Holland had something different, something supremely exotic. They had sauce.
Of course we had sauce, a red one and a brown one, each with their function in life, but I remember walking into the first Dutch/Belgian take-away where they had shelf after shelf, row after row of every sauce you could imagine. Actually more than I could imagine because I hadn’t imagined anything other than red or brown existed or needed to exist. I can’t remember what I had and doubt I’d have had a way of knowing, so perhaps the man selling chips just squirted a big dollop of suitable for foreigners on my chips. Did I mention that – every bottle had a big jar top pump dispenser – and there we were slapping the flat ends of glass bottles like Neanderthals. I decided there and then that clearly these people knew what they were doing on the food front, and it stuck.
Perhaps the best known Dutch snack/taps/take-away foods are the Bitterballen and Frikandel. They are to Holland what fish and chips is to Britain, the difference being they still sell and eat theirs. Tulp will prepare a mixed platter of tapas (plenty of other options aside from the Dutch specialities – their pot of prawns are renowned) and it is a great option for sharing as the prelude to a big night out. Today was about the Dutch specials including Bitterballen, a deep fried ball of chopped beef, parsley and spices rolled in egg and breadcrumb coating, and everyone’s favourite sausage patty Frikandel, and I do mean everyone. We have taken various friends and families to Tulp over the years and everybody likes it. It is like sausage but somehow friendlier, easier. It even comes in its own house to stop any risk of plate roll, being compliantly delicious with every easy-cut slice. My advice is to go Dutch as typically Tulp will serve Frikandel to English speakers plain as it comes. Probably too many instances of confusion and disbelief when serving it the Dutch way, with fresh chopped onions and a tangy relish-cum-sauce. “What’s this stuff mate, its like sauce, but it’s not red and it’s not brown, what the hell is it?”. What it is, I am happy to volunteer, is very, very, good. If Frikandel is every man’s friend then another of their specials, the pickled whole herring is much more the acquired taste to us Brits. I really like it with a beer, great pub snack, but only when you see Tulp owner and all round good guy Paul Hopman throw his neck back and consume one with the style and love of a performing seal, do you realise what a staple they are in the Dutch food repertoire.
All the Dutch snacks have the common thread of being ’light’, hence the perfect party starter food comment, but this thread doesn’t stop at Tapas. Nasi goring is to the Dutch what Madras is to the English, but whereas a big curry can leave you feeling heavy and sluggish, The Nasi Goreng packs the same punch, the same richness of flavours, but in a much less artery clogging way. And it comes with a fried egg on top which I like in its randomness. Literally meaning ’fried rice’ nasi goring comes in many varieties—Tulp’s with some delicious skewered satay, lemongrass, egg and a huge cracker—but it is in the rice there is the ’knack’.
My bad, I cannot at time of writing find my note of the name of the Pork in Pitta bread dish. For me it is a perfect football lunch – big game on the telly, in the sunshine, pint, pork-pitta-chips-salsa combo (I’ll call it that), what could be better? Actually not having the match on the box. Though they wheel one out for big occasions Tulp is a bar that does not have a TV. Nor do they have P.R’s, and though it is one of the most relaxed and easy going bars I know, they actually maintain a limited dress code – just that blokes can’t be bare chested at night – pretty astute as this usually equates to having been on the lash all day, and without a bouncer in sight I have never seen them have a spot of trouble.
All of these things go to make up the best thing about Tulp, and that is it’s ambience. It is relaxed but stylish, cool without trying too hard, it has the high tables, typical of a Dutch bar that encourage communication instead of TV gawking, it has an interesting but unpretentious menu, it has every type of seating possible from hammock to sofa to dining to oil drums. All of these quirks come together to make it a special place, one of that limited number of places that you have a certain mood for.
Of course Tulp does have a good following in the Dutch community and I have met many new faces there. Though dangerous to ever generalise about nationalities I will say that in my experience the Dutch as a people seem far more engaging than many others. Often when meeting new people you find they are solely interested in pursuing their own agenda, talking about themselves. Dutch people see more inclined, as a rule, to engage in mutual conversation. A dialogue feels genuine more often than superficial. Well, it’s a better stereotype than lager lout.
Find Tulp on the San Antonio Promenade, see Ad for Details. Did I mention they have a direct view of the best sunset in the world?
- Top Tulps; Diana, who loves photography, and Paul, who loves being photographed :-)