Right in the heart of Eindhoven is an old military police barracks with a huge shed attached to it. Together 2,500 square meters. An ambitious project was started here at the end of 2014: De Kazerne, ‘international stage and home for the creative industry’, as they call it, in which ‘the worlds of art, design, knowledge and technology come together with good food and drink’. An exhibition space with a restaurant in it.
Eye-catcher at the moment: in the large, dark, high, industrial space, there is a wide circle of hanging black bars with blue LED lamps mounted on the inside over the entire length. Whoever stands in the middle (there is an opening on one side) and swings his arms can draw patterns with the lights: they react to movement. The little boy in me is then stronger than the embarrassment: you feel like Magneto in a X-Men-film. Best cool.
Between those and two other installations that make graceful continuous movements is the restaurant: tables set up for exams next to a large, neat, open kitchen. It’s quite clever how they managed to create a cozy atmosphere in such an absurdly large space with the distance to the kitchen and the other tables. There is a picturesque courtyard garden, a shop with design items and a presentation room where students pitch design ideas publicly this evening to make the world a better place.
An inspiring place, with a vibrant atmosphere where the senses are well stimulated. But of course you want to know: how is the food? That varies.
On the map
The cuisine is Italian. This is how the map is built: before, pasta, main, after. You get three courses for 35 euros, four for 45 euros, so that’s quite manageable. There is plenty of vegetarian to choose from.
We eat one absolutely amazing dish: a ravioli with fontina in a chamomile broth (17.50 euros). The ravioli are actually tortelloni, but that aside, the pasta is fresh and beautifully al dente and the smooth running fat-creamy fontina colors wonderfully with the polly spiciness of the chamomile. Small pieces of smoked almond give depth, a salty touch and some crunch at the same time. Surprising and delicate.
It forms quite a contrast with the other intermediate dish (14.50 euros). This pasta (alla chitarra, so thin, flat strips) is also fresh and delicious, the sauce (a kind of bolognese, but with mackerel) is also delicious. But it’s still quite a clumsy plate of spaghetti with red sauce. The risotto (18.50 euros) with asparagus is porridge and quite salty. The taggiasche olive crumb on it is really a bit much of a good thing. Node lacks a fresh touch here. The corn grouse (21 euros) is well prepared, tender and juicy, subtly flavored with some powder of cèpes (a bit crazy to use the French name for porcini mushrooms instead of the Italian porcini). The broad beans could have made it sparkly, but unfortunately everything is drowned in a mushy mashed potato. To end on a positive note: Rabbit terrine is good. It is a nice coarse dark pâté, with lots of pistachios and a single raisin for creaminess.
The young girls of the service are quick, they keep a close eye on things, but there is also something to be gained in the service. We ordered the panzanella (Italian bread salad) with sardines (+3 euros). But we never saw that fish. They also only come up with the idea of offering us water after the main course.
De Kazerne is a really cool place, beautifully designed and everything is happening. Well worth a visit anyway. And if you happen to hit the spot on the menu, you can also eat well there. But it really needs to be stepped up. Most dishes have the base, but they lack the finesse of those ravioli/tortelloni. That should be the benchmark.