Restaurant Looks near Nieuwmarkt has received a lot of attention and rave reviews including an impressive 170 mostly positive comments on the DiningCity community and much praise in almost all major local papers.
There is definitely something very intriguing about Looks. First of all, there is the location in a formerly shady side street just off Nieuwmarkt. It’s a typical Amsterdam alley: narrow with uneven pavement and plenty of rusty bikes parked haphazardly against Amsterdammertjes (little poles).
And then there is the beautiful decor. Looks is situated across two old buildings and consists of several semi-open rooms on various levels connected by short stairs and doorways. Right at the entrance you will catch a glimpse of the bar on the top left and several dining rooms straight ahead and towards the bottom right. Each room has a slightly different decoration, all held in dark colors with 60s retro shapes and textures.
It’s all about the concept and – in their own words – providing a total experience…
While that sounds good, in Amsterdam it unfortunately often means more attention is paid to the design and less to food and service. And unfortunately that suspicion was confirmed at Looks – great look, good but not great food and poor service.
The menu at Looks changes weekly and consists of three starters and three mains – fish, meat and vegetarian. Dishes are interesting, with ambitious ingredients like reindeer, skate or rabbit, prepared in a Dutch / International way with some Asian influences. And the team gets creative with the names of the dishes like “green cabbage bomb” or “responsible garlic soup”. Then there are two signature dishes that are always available – oysters for starters and a grilled, smoked entrecôte.
The execution was inconsistent. The entrecôte was great. Good quality meat with a very special smoked flavor. But the duo of beef was rather bland, overcooked and hard.
Then what really got us was the unprofessional service. Placing orders was slow even though the restaurant was nowhere near fully booked. And it was all downhill when the main courses arrived – in stages rather than at the same time, and leaving us struggling to pick a different bottle of wine as Looks had run out of the one we were having and failed to inform us about that when opening the first bottle.
We were still in doubt whether the positive or negative outweighed when leaving, but were shocked to find three bottles of water at almost €5 each on our bill. We had clearly ordered tap water and the bottles with no labels did not suggest that we were served bottled water either.
After long discussions, Looks took the water off our bill, so we might go back, enjoying the amazing decor and memorable entrecôte, and hoping for more consistent food and service to complete that “total experience”…