Late night eats are pretty easy to come by in Amsterdam. Most bars will serve snacks reasonably late, and bitterballen in particular are fucking epic mid Heineken-supping eats.
And even when they have whisked away their menus, there are still an array of frites stands and falafel joints (Londoners will recognise Maoz) to satisfying your inebriated self until the early hours. A couple of Burger Bar locations in the center of town are even open until 4am. But they are just regular burger restaurants. Where is the novelty in that?
Which is where Febo comes in.
This is fast food in the 'automatiek' style: screw talking to actual people, these guys serve their their wares out of vending machines that look like glass-fronted swimming pool lockers. The newer branches are pretty swish, with vibrant digital screens showing off the products on offer. Some of the older branches though, with over-lit, faded pictures have all the charm of a fast food prison run by Starburger.
It doesn't matter.
You stand there, memerised by the cavalcade of items on offer, as does everyone else, swaying with uncertainty. The concept is hilariously counter-intuitive past 10pm, when street swaying graduates from comically casual to potentially canal-plunging levels. Febo becomes a fucking conundrum: The machines only except change - cue people rooting around in pockets, absently shuffling random coins about palms, or repeatedly missing the slot on the change machine. In a place designed for the fastest delivery of fast food, the chance of anyone buying anything quickly is a rarity.
The food, once you have negotiated your way to it, is fine after several La Chouffes. The burger benefits from a fairly decent bun, classic standard cheese slice melted over a thin suspect patty, and some massively potent orangey-pink grill relish, which has the sharpness of a strong cocktail sauce and is pretty much all your face can register at that stage of inebriation. But they go down easily, so much so that one just isn't enough.
The thinly breadcrumbed Krokets, one of the multitude of log shaped fried items, are filled with a crazy glutinous meat-gravy ragout with added flecks of 'healthy'. And they are fucking molten.
At half two in the morning, it all seems like the most fun. And it must look weird as hell to sober folk.
A polite zombie food scrimmage.