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Manse Macabre

This one-of-a-kind eatery puts an arty twist on a grim history

Author Jay Cheshes

AMSTERDAM—Opening restaurants in old commercial, institutional and industrial spaces is big everywhere these days, but nowhere more so than in Amsterdam, where former factories, warehouses, schools and banks have all been transformed into places to eat. And among these recycled venues, none is quite as offbeat as Lab 111, a café, bar and restaurant in a decommissioned pathology lab.

“The bodies used to come in through tunnels,” says restaurateur Otto Groeneveld, who opened the place a few years ago as a for-profit arm of the nonprofit arts group that holds screenings and performances elsewhere in the building (dinner customers help offset artist rents).

Lab 111’s décor puts a playful spin on the space’s ghoulish past. Metal cabinets that once housed specimens in jars now stock bottles of wine. Vintage operating-room lamps hang above the enormous green table where dishes like braised lamb with savoy cabbage, pancetta and veal-oregano sauce, and quinoa with pumpkin, mushrooms, beets and chickpeas are served.

Groeneveld didn’t extend the theme much beyond the décor, though. “We didn’t want to take it too far,” he says. “We don’t want to be a circus act.”

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