Truffle pizza, truffle salmon. Truffle tournedos. Truffle with fries. truffle is the name of the game here at the Down Town Gourmet Market in Eindhoven. That is a collection of food stalls of all kinds that apparently all discovered the truffle tapenade at the same time. (To be clear: when I say truffle, I mean of course chopped mushrooms with truffle oil. And you know: truffle oil has nothing to do with truffle. Stop the time. One joker.)

The Gourmet Market is one such central dining hall with collective seating and a circle of individual catering entrepreneurs around it – something for everyone, small bites, good streetfood, for a nice price. We know this concept from Stockholm, Barcelona and Copenhagen, among others. And has previously been poorly imitated in Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

The Markthal in Rotterdam is in a funny building, but has no atmosphere and a disappointing offer – it is actually more of a shopping center. You can eat better in the Amsterdam Foodhallen, it is also bustling more. Only, the loveless commerce drips off it and then there is soon no fun anymore.

It is cozy in Eindhoven. It is small-scale, everything is manageable. Food stall vendors can say: where are you about, I’ll bring it in a minute. The central bar service even occasionally takes an order at the table (you don’t have to come for the wine, but they have nice beers – Urthel on tap, among others). The whole is nicely decorated with hanging plants. They unabashedly mix up Aha, George Michael, Guns n’ Roses, Amy Winehouse, The Pointer Sisters and Stevie Wonder – clichés are clichés for a reason, come on.

The food is reasonably priced, for three bucks you can be quite full. The quality is unfortunately a bit less. I haven’t been able to taste everything for you – I’ve left out the ice creams and pancakes, as well as the burgers, chips and salads. But there’s still plenty left over so I’ll go through it with you.

On the map

On the fridge of the taco stand it says ‘life’s to short to eat bad tacos’. Let’s keep it that way. The owner of the Spanish-Indonesian Spado stable has managed to make a kind of soup from the babi ketjap and rendang (with pieces of potato). The gado gado is fridge cold.

Then the category ‘not dirty, nothing special’. The Vietnamese makes a nice summer roll with shrimp and egg and deep-fried shrimp wrapped in chicken with puffed rice around it. I suspect the pulled pork at Mr. Meat is made with ketchup. The chicken thighs are very salty, but tasty crispy. Not the pork belly. The Turk is the Turk, always steady and the supply is considerable – safe bet.

What I dare to recommend are the mantus, Afghan dumplings, filled with ground beef, chicken or mushrooms. The wonton-like skin is a bit soggy and they spray a lot of yogurt and tomato sauce over it. But the filling is tasty seasoned. The same goes for the empanadas on the other side of the room: tasty and seasoned. And nice brittle, not too thick dough.

The best stall in the Gourmet Market (also the largest) is the C Food Bar. The website is heavily flirted with responsibility and sustainable fish. Kind of crazy that you serve cultured king prawns from Vietnam. But the yellowfin tuna is line-caught in the Maldives, according to the fishmonger. It is indeed one of the few MSC certified tuna fisheries. I haven’t seen the certificate, but they don’t lie about those prawns either. So, kudos.

Also not unimportant: it tastes quite decent. Starting with the grilled sardines – simple, effective. The fish and chips are from European hake (also available sustainably). The thin batter jacket is crispy and brown, the fish is hot but not blown and juicy. The same goes for the cuisson of the à la minute baked salmon.

And… I would have laughed at myself if I hadn’t tasted it myself, but – to be honest – that truffle-teriyaki sauce is quite delicious.