OLV Plein—Onze Lieve Vrouwe Plein (Square)
Maastricht has many squares, the largest and most important being the Vrijthof (see a few pics of squares in the next post). Many are very small, hardly more than a slight widening of the street. This one is somewhere in between. It’s in front of Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kerk (Basilica of Our Lady), a towering building from 1000 AD that looks like a fortress in a way.
The square is lovely, as it is full of trees, making it very pretty, green and leafy, and giving it an almost Mediterranean atmosphere. It’s a superb setting for the cafes and brasseries that line the street alongside it, with their tables and chairs set out under the trees. Pick your café, depending on the color and style of the cloths and chairs (and depending on the menu, of course).
Because it’s smaller than Vritjhof and greener, it seems nicer in some ways, and is certainly more peaceful and has less motor traffic on the road between the line of cafes and the square.
One day we had lunch here at Charlemagne (OLV plein 24), which was great. We sat in the shade right next to the church, and had their special asparagus salad, with bread, and a glass of sauvignon blanc, followed by a double espresso. Service was friendly and good—the wait staff run in and out of the restaurant and its kitchen on the edge of the square.
We enjoyed the more intimate atmosphere of this square again on two evenings when we ate at Lanteern, right next to Charlemagne (at OLV plein 26). We didn’t sit under the trees, but at the tables outside under the awnings against the building, slightly more protected in the evening when it was a bit cool, and in fact the heaters came on, so we were outside but warm. Plus we could more easily people-watch—coming and going to the tables, walking along the street, and the wait staff scurrying in and out.
One evening Rod had a varkenhaasje camembert (varkenhaasje is a pork
tenderloin) and I had gebakken slibtongetjes (some kind of baked whole white fish). Both with plenty of fries (a Dutch staple) and a salad—served with twists of orange and slices of starfruit. With a bottle of rose wine, the total cost was only 46.80 euros. The food was good, and plenty filling.
The second night Rod had the same, as he said it was so good, but I tried a salmon (zalm) filet, and we had a bottle of sauvignon blanc, all for the same price.
We were very satisfied with the whole experience in both cafes, and would happily return.