Blue Pepper is a contemporary Indonesian restaurant that really stands out from the crowd. Its decor is stylish and yet it attracts an older more settled crowd. It serves rijsttafels (or rice tables), the most popular authentic Dutch/Indonesian dish, but served more elegantly as individual dishes rather than the usual family style. And it’s located near the center but distinctly removed from the tourist crowds.
Blue Pepper opened to much critical acclaim almost 10 years ago. A Michelin star past at restaurant Spandershoeve in the 90s, an Indonesian fusion menu and an über-cool blue decor have earned executive chef Sonja Pereira rave reviews from local critics such as Johannes van Dam and foreign food experts, including Mark Brittman of the New York Times. It’s lost some of its edge over the years but still serves great innovative food.
And indeed it’s blue! Inside, the walls and the ceiling are painted solid marine blue. There’s a blue awning above the window, blue decorations, blue business cards, and a blue website. The blue decor is further highlighted by the cold light from dozens of small halogen lamps and the small, tunnel-like space. We quite liked the cool vibe but can imagine that others may find it oppressive.
The food was great. Blue Pepper works with prix fixe menus ranging from The Sultan and I, which offers 20 individual dishes at €70, to a lighter and cheaper Summer Special at €44. The dishes are Indonesian with a modern twist as well as some unexpected Western ingredients. We loved the amuse-bouche of chicken won tons, with just the right crunchiness in the crust and lots of different flavors. Monkfish with lemon grass, shrimp with jackfruit and a spicy glass-noodle soup with a quail’s egg were other highlights. Blue Pepper is happy to substitute some red meat dishes and also offers a vegetarian menu upon request. The wine list is short but broad, including several New World options that go well with spicy food as well as expensive Bordeaux wines.
The service was somewhat sluggish as there was only one waitress serving all guests. But overall we enjoyed the slow pace as the individually served dishes of the menu kept us entertained. The option to pay by credit card, free tap water and air conditioning are other plusses that unfortunately are still not standard everywhere in Amsterdam.
In short, Blue Pepper is right for those looking for a sophisticated high-end dinner that stimulates the eye and excites the taste buds.
1054 AB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 4897039
Open 6pm-10pm, closed on Tuesdays
Public Transport: Tram 7 or 10 to Raamplein, or 5 minute walk from Leidesplein
Vibe: Sophisticated modern
Price: €60 to €100 per person
A slightly modified version of this article also appeared in the September edition of Amsterdam Magazine – Beyond Windmills, Wooden Shoes and Weed.