Vrijthof’s Carnival Theme
One side of Maastricht’s huge Vrijthof Square is lined with lovely old buildings, now cafes, bars and brasseries. One, roughly in the middle, is a bit more ornate than the others. It’s the Grand Café Momus and it used to be the Carnival Hall. Their logo is still a carnival mask, which features on the chairs and menu.
Why Momus? And what’s the significance of 11, which we see on menus and signs? Momus is named after the Greek god of lunacy/craziness/jesting. The Momus on Vrijthof used to be the Carnival Hall and has a sculpted jester on the façade. There was a Carnival Council of Eleven, nearby cafes had a breadth of 11 meters, and 11 was the number of the Lunacy god. The “season of lunacy” officially starts on November 11th, but actual carnival is just before Lent.
During carnival people really dress up and bands parade around. You’ll see all kinds of amazing costumes, and beer and jenever flow freely. Even the salted herring sellers might be costumed (traditional carnival fare). All a lot of fun, I’m sure.
One night we decided to eat at the Grand Café Momus at Vrijthof 8. It is a grand old building on the square and their décor with purple is very pretty. Tables are attractively set and it has an inviting air. Their logo, on everything, is a masked person, because of the link to the name Momus and to carnival.
Service was friendly and they brought snacks with the wine (olives and a
kind of garlic-cheese spread on soft toasts), but sadly the food was rather ordinary—it looked much nicer than it actually tasted. I had cod and another small whole fish on a kind of curry sauce with a few purple potato chips and a dish of curly fries. Rod’s tapas dish was okay—spicy spare ribs, chicken skewer, 3 fried calamari rings, a small bowl of olives, a small bowl of tuna/anchovy/red onion, and fries. Not really what we expected for tapas! The food wasn’t bad, just rather unimaginative, and my fish a bit dry.
So, sorry Momus, but I don’t think we would return, not to eat anyway. Perhaps to relax with a beer or a glass of wine.