In what was once a jail, this chic theater cafe-restaurant pulls in an arty, theatergoing crowd and serves them an inexpensive lunch and some great snacks along with beers, wines, and coffee, in a stylish, high-ceilinged, ground-floor cafe. Simple but fine meals are served in a restaurant upstairs, which has an ever-changing menu that's short on choice but long enough on taste. A Dutch option might be a zippy variation on something traditional, like lamsfilet met mierikswortelsaus (lamb filet with a horseradish sauce). There's invariably a vegetarian plate, maybe something like the Mediterranean-style mozarellataartje met gedroogde tomaten, broccoli en olijvensaus (mozzarella pie with dried tomatoes, broccoli, and an olive sauce). De Balie is well placed for a dinner before or after a visit to its own theater, the nearby Stadsschouwburg, or one of the multiscreen movie theaters around Leidseplein.
- © Frommer's 2013