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The taste of the sunny south

05-03-2018

Soft light, lively ambience and the smell of rosemary greet us as we enter. A friendly server escorts us past the bar to a table in the back. The interior is simple yet functional with dark wood and several Italian paintings.

The place is casual just like the staff and the guests you will find here. Four girls are engaged in a lively conversation laughing a lot while a couple is served a huge plate with antipasti. It looks so delicious that for the first time since we have entered they are no longer looking at each other but are looking at their food.

The longing for hot summer nights

Our table is small and we are sitting close together. It kind of helps create an intimate atmosphere. It is functional as you can still hear each other clearly, right through the laughter, the occasional words that pass you, and the melancholic voice of Dusty Springfield. The DJ to the left of the bar is playing some layback music, sometimes contemporary, more often from the seventies, but never old. It is the music that makes you long for hot summer nights at the beach, somewhere in Spain, or Italy? It does not matter. Grapes & Olives makes it feel Mediterranean. And that is exactly what it feels like, some place in South Europe.

A melting pot of cultures

The same person that greeted us now brought us a chalkboard with tonight’s dishes. Mostly tapas, but in an Italian style. Hams, cheeses, bruschetta’s, risotto, many variations on asparagus – it is the season. Everything sounds delicious, so we let the waiter decide. We do the same for the wine, which they have a huge selection. It turns out to be a good idea as the plates are finished cleanly. Slowly the delightful contents of a bottle from Montepulciano disappears, transforming the little restaurant more and more into a café, where strikingly many foreigners order a drink at the bar in broken English and with many gestures. The Dj now takes the front. You will never want to leave this melting pot of cultures, of delicious smells, of positive vibes. It is only when we leave the place in the evening, a little tipsy and with the rain in our faces, that we realize: this is just The Hague in The Netherlands.

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