The restaurant known as REM Eiland wasn’t always an architectural oddity in the Amsterdam port of Houthaven. The 80-foot-tall, red-and-white tower was originally a pirate radio and TV station in the North Sea, and it gave Dutch viewers their first taste of commercial television.
It was 1964, and up to that point, there’d only been state-sponsored television. From the tower, a channel called TV Noordzee broadcast shows such as Zorro, Rin-Tin-Tin, and Mr. Ed, along with commercials. While viewers were entertained, the government was not: The tower’s location in international waters allowed TV Noordzee to circumvent Dutch laws. But this rebellion was short-lived: Four months after TV Noordzee launched, the government found a way to use the 1958 Geneva Convention to justify restructuring offshore territorial boundaries. And with that, REM Eiland fell under Dutch control. On December 17, 1964, marines raided the tower and shut down operations.
The government used the tower as a site for measuring ocean temperatures and salt levels before dismantling it and bringing it ashore in 2006. But just when REM Eiland seemed like it might disappear for good, new owners purchased it and started renovations (including adding another floor and losing the helipad) to turn it into the restaurant it is today.
Now, diners can ascend the tower’s zigzagging stairs to reach the bar and dining area. The menu features tournedos (tiny, round cuts of beef), sea bass, and sandwiches with fillings ranging from steamed mackerel to eggs with aged gouda. REM Eiland’s most spectacular offering, however, is the view of the IJ river and surrounding city. Order a beer from nearby Brouwerij ‘t IJ or a cocktail at the bar, and raise a glass to the era of offshore pirate broadcasting.
Know Before You Go
The tower is also home to an office, so just follow the signs to make sure you’re heading to the restaurant.