For twelve years, Willem Honnebier had owned and operated Replay Café at Singel 461, right in the center of the city and two minutes walking distance from het Spui, Amsterdam’s literary district. When the time came to do a total refurbishment, Willem thought it was also time to change the name. Calf&Bloom gets its name from the interior designer at Concrete Architectural Associates, who wanted to make a courtyard-like café between the shopping district Kalverstraat and the Bloemenmarkt (flower market). It’s an easy name to remember if you’re from out of town. “Whether you pronounce it the Dutch way or not, it means the same in English: Calf and Bloom. There’s a lot of tourists who come by and everybody understands Calf&Bloom,” says Willem, who now co-owns the establishment with Dennis van Dijk, the once long time floor manager.
Joost van Rijswijk is the chef and according to Willem, he’s “a very young, intelligent guy who traveled the world,” which might explain Calf&Bloom’s international tastes. Joost describes the cuisine as Dutch with French and global influences. “I like to play around with flavors from different countries. We have a steak baguette with a really nice USA cut of meat and we put chimichurri on top. It’s a different flavor on a baguette. We also serve local products such as the salmon from our French smoke house. They are really beautiful. I play around with some herring caviar and some crème fresh and dill. So it’s like half French and half Dutch.”
Being so centrally located, Calf&Bloom is the perfect meeting-place for locals and sightseeing out-of-towners. It’s close to the University of Amsterdam’s main library, so its spacious, naturally lit courtyard is popular with students and professors alike. Willem says, “We attract a wide audience. It should be a place where everybody can feel comfortable whether you’re sitting with a laptop on the high table with a coffee or having an extensive lunch with wine. Maybe somebody over by the window is having a pastry and a nice coffee. Everybody, all day long, can come in and meet each other. It’s more of a cosmopolitan place with a nice outdoor terrace. It’s a very welcome, warm, and easygoing place.”