Favourite spot

Eva Oosters: De Utrechtse Boekenbar

Prominent Utrechters talking about their favourite spots in the city. This month: alderman for culture Eva Oosters in the Utrecht Book Bar (Boekenbar) on Westerkade.

So, the book bar?
‘This place is a work of art in itself: floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and photos and prints on the walls. It’s unlike any other bookshop I’ve ever been to. Friendly, inviting and offering good advice. All with a nice cup of coffee in your hand.
I adore books – they transport you to another world. That’s why I’m so pleased that the Literature museum is moving to Utrecht in 2025. I’m currently reading De Beesten by the Utrecht-based writer Gijs Wilbrink, which is partly set in this city. I’m enthralled – it’s a novel that reads like a thriller.’

‘If you fancy a night out in Utrecht, you’re either packed in like sardines or you can’t get in at all.  We’re currently compiling Nachtvisie 2030, a policy document about the local nightlife. We sent surveys to the residents of Utrecht and received almost 7,000 replies. They showed that lots of people recognise this problem and that there’s a huge demand for more venues for night culture. There isn’t enough diversity: lots of noisy bars, but too few pop podiums. The municipality wants to change this. We can see opportunities for new creative locations, which should take the pressure off the city centre.’

Guilty pleasure?
I love hunting for ‘finds’ in vintage shops, whether it’s clothes, albums or furniture. Utrecht has a huge variety, particularly on Oudegracht between Twijnstraat and Vismarkt. My last find was a waistcoat in the basement of Cafca, which is always a great place to go. It’s like a living room, where the regulars make their own coffee. The clientele is much more diverse than in other places in the city centre.’

Best memory?
‘Being the alderman for culture means that I get invited to all kinds of functions. It can be difficult to choose and I’m often surprised. The first public function I attended as alderman was the opening of an international choir festival in the Dom Church last June. That huge church, packed with people of all nationalities, singing and dancing: I’ve never seen anything like it. After giving my speech in English (which actually went quite well), I was invited to dance and people even threw rice at me, a symbol of good luck in the years to come.’

Recently discovered artist?
‘Can it be a venue? I went to the cultural bar Teatro on Oudegracht recently, which has an amazing programme including drag shows, for example, and discussion evenings. I went to a contemporary talk about social safety Utrecht’s nightlife. The discussions were open and very valuable. It was clear that lots of people don’t feel safe, and that some have had really frightening experiences. It’s a theme we need to include in our Nachtvisie.’

The last time you cried?
‘I don’t often cry in real life, but films really set me off. The film Babylon – a cinematic rollercoaster through Hollywood in the 1920s – kept me on the edge of my seat for three whole hours and made me cry more than once. I sobbed through the film La La Land too, which was made by the same director, Damien Chazelle. So now you know what it takes to make me cry…’

Best food?
‘I’m a huge fan of café-restaurant Saar on Catharijnesingel. It’s got a French vibe and they serve original dishes. I had razor clams the last time I was there. I’m also glad that Zware Jongens in the Muntgebouw has reopened. I love their vegan dishes.’





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