Fat Boy scrutinised every customer who entered the Broodje (pronounced bro-tyuh) Sandwich Studio & Doggie Deck. Everyone who passed him couldn’t help but fawn over the nine-year-old chocolate springer spaniel enjoying the ambience of the quaint restaurant on Alfredo Street, Woodbrook, Port of Spain.
Pet owners have the rare opportunity to dine with their dogs at one of four tables on Broodje’s doggie deck, which is inside the compound and just outside the restaurant’s entrance. A line of porcelain water bowls decorated with painted dog pawprints has been placed by the hooks on the wall for dog leashes.
Dog owners choose from the breakfast, brunch and light lunch menu of seven paninis on multigrain ciabatta bread or Dutch pancakes.
Dogs have the choice of peanut butter or salmon dog biscuits, bacon and eggs or a specially requested meal. With five days' notice, it’s even possible to get a doggie birthday cake.
Customers without dogs can eat in the sandwich studio, which seats 25. Just follow the driftwood up the steps.
“Each piece of driftwood has a story; each one inspires me,” says Nicolaas Kersting, co-owner of Broodje’s. He points out a piece of driftwood from Tompire Bay, which he describes as “a beautiful bay on the way to Toco.”
Kersting, a coastal river engineer, is Dutch and has lived in Trinidad for 20 years. He deals with river erosion that threatens houses and buildings, and identifies solutions for the problem.
“Trinidad has a stunning coastline,” he says.
Kersting has his office at the back of the restaurant, and when he’s not in the field taking pictures of the coast with his drone, he’s in his office working. He makes pannekoeken, which are Dutch pancakes. (Pannekoeken come in four savoury and sweet varieties, like spinach, ham and cheese or with apples, raisins and walnuts).
Broodje translates into "sandwich" and the “living room-style bistro” as described by Celeste Chin who works at the restaurant, offers both sandwiches to eat and books for browsing on a bookshelf in a small waiting area. There’s even a souvenir shop where patrons can buy locally-made products like painted, decorative rocks, dreamcatchers and wind chimes. Photographs capture Trinidad’s breathtaking coast. They are drone shots taken by Kersting, who owns Broodje’s along with his wife, Denise Shair-Singh, who does most of the cooking.
“Broodje’s is a place where we can express ourselves personally,” he says. “Being from Holland, I am used to restaurants where dogs are welcome in most public places."
“When we visited our daughter in Florida, and we wanted to go out to eat, our daughter would call to see if she could bring her dog,” says Shair-Singh, “and we thought about how people don’t have that experience in Trinidad.”
Labradors, golden retrievers, pitbulls and rescue dogs have visited the restaurant.
“You don’t realise how many people want to take their dogs out,” says Kersting.
Broodje’s even had a dog’s birthday celebrated at the restaurant, which also attracts people who want a cosy, personal experience rather than a large, boisterous crowd.
“We offer healthy, home-cooked, tasty food,” says Chin, who is Shair-Singh’s daughter. “My mom always loved cooking,” she says.
The menu includes six different sandwiches served on baguettes. Filling choices include cream cheese, chicken salad and smoked salmon. “The soup of the day is whatever my mother feels to make that day,” says Chin. Omelettes, granola bowls and waffles round off the breakfast menu, while brunch and lunch offer quinoa bowls and broodje burgers, which include homemade veggie patties, salmon and homemade beef patties.
Broodje’s is currently offering a Christmas menu for groups of six or more people, with a choice of ham or turkey, salad or vegetables and creamy potatoes.