De Waag was centuries ago the epicenter of Leiden but lost its function through the years and was actually hardly used. The historic building, a state monument, was where merchants from the 17-19th century would weigh their goods. But this summer the monument is once again a city hot spot, as it opened its doors last week as a new, cozy restaurant with a spectacular interior design concept. It is meant to be a place that feels like a second home even though the building is enormous. One can have breakfast, lunch or dinner under the magnificent vaults of the monumental Butterhall or glass new construction in the back.
My favourite part of the restaurant is in fact the newly built glass roofed part in the back: a glass conservatory, where guests sit between the green of the plants or at the high tables near the window. There is a beautiful tiled floor, rattan lamps and the walls are open shelved construction boasting all sizes and shapes of vintage scales that hark back to its the building’s original function. In this glass space you also find the large open kitchen with a rotisserie and shelves with herbs and plants .
Fresh grilled chicken plays a major role in the Waag. On a Josper charcoal oven poultry is freshly grilled, seasoned in French or Portuguese style. In addition, there are on the menu tasty salads, pastas and culinary classics like a sirloin steak, prawns, satay and a burger.
The high vaulted Butter hall evokes a dramatic scene, especially when the sun beams enter the space through the windows. Although it has a large set up of many tables, it still feels like home due to several dispersed seating areas with comfortable arm chairs to plunge into. Huge soft Persian rugs, warm colors and a special warm lighting plan transform the stately monument to a place where it is pleasant to stay for a coffee, beer or after dinner drinks. The beer selection is extensive, as is the menu of different coffees.
The front part of the building, the actual Weigh hall, is a cozy breakfast and coffee corner and bar with an additional outside terrace. One can still admire the large steel hooks where once hung the scales. I love this place and think this will be one of my new favourite hangouts.
De Waag Leiden, Aalmarkt 21 in Leiden