The Cow – Café de Bonte Koe

On Twitter people have been asking me what ‘The Cow’ is because it’s a place I talk about often. Well just to answer that question once and for all, I decided to make a short blogpost about it.

The Cow, officially known as Café de Bonte Koe, is the oldest bar in Leiden. There has been a bar on site ever since the late 19th century.  However, the place itself wasn’t intended to be a bar at all. In fact, the interior of the bar is decorated with tiles which depict cows as well as rural Dutch landschapes. The reason for this, is because the place was intended to be a butcher’s instead, but it just never happened that way. Nobody knows why, but if we are to believe rumors, the butcher fell in love with a brewer’s daughter and decided to open up a bar instead.

Due to the interior, the place oozes with character and stepping inside reminds one of stepping t into someone’s living room at least 50 years ago. There is an old wooden fire place, an old jukebox and tons of character. For the longest time, all they had to play music, was an old cassette player, with only one cassette tape to play: Creedence Clearwater Revival. Guess why I get nostalgic when I hear CCR? It’s not because I’m old enough to remember the haydays of that band, that’s for sure. And until not too long ago, they even had a pet cat who lived at the bar called Keetje, but I haven’t seen her in a while.

The Cow serves some of the best beers in the world (no lie!) at not too steep prices. Some beers are exclusive and are even bought in Belgium by the owner who then takes it home in the back of the car. Their selection of wines and whisky is also good, with their house rosé wine winning an award not too long ago. For snacks they serve some delicious cheeses or sausage.

Currently, the interior decoration is being restored. Luckily, they were able to find a company to get things fixed and hopefully the place will soon be restored to its former glory. I, for one, know one thing for sure: I will be spending plenty of Sunday evenings at this homey bar with the great beers. Cheers!

Some pictures to ‘taste’ the atmosphere:

Click this link for a 360 degree view of the place.

Which is your favorite bar?

3 responses to “The Cow – Café de Bonte Koe”

  1. It reminds me of a pub/restaurant that we have here called Firkin. Firkin is similar in that the beers are fantastic and there’s a wide range with huge casks of the stuff in house and ready on tap.

    The Cow looks like a great place – open, with a good vibe..

    Thanks for elucidating the mystery! 🙂

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