Dining with Natalie: Café Lily

As a native of culinary melting pot Malaysia and the daughter of a restaurateur, UG student Natalie Voo knows her food. Every other week, she reviews Groningen’s student-friendly dining scene. This time: Café Lily.

In a past review, I mentioned my self-proclaimed ‘foodie sixth sense’ – a superpower that lets me judge a restaurant’s quality purely by its vibes. My spidey senses were tingling at Café Lily, and for good reasons: it used to be a fancy joint called Eetwaar before the owners decided to go casual. 

Fine dining is no easy feat and requires a deep understanding of different flavour profiles, as well as a sprinkle of food science wizardry. Plus, they whip up everything in-house (even the mayo!). This level of dedication is a rare gem among restaurant owners, who, shockingly, aren’t always this passionate about gastronomy. 

High quality

We started with toasted brioche and butter– simple, high quality, and delicious. But even though brioche is a top-tier bread, the presentation was a bit, well, childish. Toasted and cut into triangles, it looked more like something from a school lunchbox.  Perhaps that’s why restaurants usually go for sourdough– it’s just more ‘grown-up’.

For mains we had a duck confit that was so tender it practically did a swan dive off the bone– delicious overall. But the side salad? It felt lazy and underwhelming and I personally thought it was an unusual pairing for duck confit. The anchovies, mushrooms, and capers added some nice salty umami pops, but the salad still dragged the dish down. Not exactly a bargain, but still some good food.

Now, the linguine with cockles? That’s where the magic happened. Fresh cockles and linguine with such incredible depth of flavour– it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in Groningen. Hands down, this was the winner.

Feast

We wrapped up our meal with a tarte tatin that nailed it. Perfectly caramelised with soft apples and a buttery tart base. It was not too sweet and decadently rich without being too heavy– a lovely end to our feast!

Service was friendly and efficient, although they did forget our brioche starter until I gave them a nudge. Hey, nobody’s perfect (except for that tarte tatin perhaps). The ambience is charming and quirky; the disco ball was a fun surprise. The colourful terrace was adorable, even if it did have a bit of a kindergarten vibe.

All in all, Café Lily was a delightful and tasty experience. This hidden gem near Noorderplantsoen is seriously underrated. Whether you’re dropping by to enjoy their terrace with some bites and drinks or a full meal, you’re in for a treat!

Café Lily, Kleine Leliestraat 33

A charming French-inspired casual restaurant near the Noorderplantsoen. They make everything in house and from scratch. For two people we only spent 50.50 euros.

Ratings

Food: 9/10
Presentation: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Ambience: 9/10

Dutch

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