Café Spotlight: Fats Domino
Ostend has long had an undeniably international standing. Maybe it comes from the remarkably cheap – and now discontinued – ferry that linked it to the English port of Dover. Maybe it has something to do with the city being liberated by Canadian troops in 1944. At any rate, her most famous (living) son, rock ‘n’ roll crooner Arno, is a prime example of what is known as a “man of the world”.
Kerkstraat 6, Oostende
The late Marvin Gaye famously moved to Ostend in 1981 and found the city’s vibes sufficiently positive to help him come up with one of the most successful comeback records of all time, Sexual Healing.
The café situated at number six on Kerkstraat is named after another American music legend, and a living one at that: rhythm & blues demi-god Fats Domino. The first thing that strikes you as you walk in is that it doesn’t look like a Flemish café or an American bar. Instead, it has the feel of an Irish pub (A real one, that is; not one of those identikit tourist traps.)
Underneath the beamed ceiling is a rather sombre mixture of British-racing-green walls, dark wood furniture and check-patterned fabrics. The L-shaped, English-style bar acts as practical shelving, supporting old books and scale models of naval ships. The walls are adorned with pictures of – you’ve guessed it – Fats Domino, as well as vintage posters of Ostend. The dim lighting adds to the feeling that, in a not-so-far-off previous life, this must have been a smoking pub.
The drinks menu is low on surprises. Our cappuccinos, served in ’70s-type “design” glasses, were exemplary. Beer enthusiasts will rejoice at the availability of the local Keyte, first brewed in 2004 to commemorate the end of the Siege of Ostend.
If you like a good old sing-song, though, you will come here for Angelino’s Show Time, a monthly homage to the hits of yesteryear, under the watchful eye of a larger-than-life compere. I mean, is there a better way to spend the evening of November 11 (11/11/11!) than with the one and only Jessey Presley? Thought not.