Stars, Points, Thumbs and Toques for Amsterdam

Those are some of the ratings that critics award to restaurants and there recently has been a barrage of updates to the influential restaurant guides of Michelin, Gault Millaut, Lekker and SpecialBite.

There seems to be a lot of consistency and agreement when it comes to reviewing Amsterdam restaurants. Chic and formal French restaurants like La Rive, Ciel Bleu and Ron Blaauw top all lists.

specialbiteSpecialBite is the only publication that dares to be different. Their list of 11 ‘very special’ restaurants in Amsterdam (Dutch) includes a number of more innovative and cooler places. Marius, which is also one of dutchgrub’s Best Amsterdam Restaurants is on the list. As well as Le Restaurant, which stands out from the Michelin stars by being small and located in De Pijp, and Blauw aan de Wal, which serves a fusion menu right by the red light district.

Amsterdam Restaurant Week 2009 – Still No Reservations

The summer edition of Restaurant Week will hit Amsterdam August 24 to 30, 2009. Reservations open tomorrow at 10am. But be warned, getting a good reservation in 2009 is just as impossible as in previous years.

Restaurant week is a great idea that in Amsterdam suffers from two major flaws: First of all too many average restaurants participate with menus that are not worth the fixed rate of €25,- for a three course dinner. And secondly restaurant week is so popular that it’s hard to get a reservation.

Like all diningcity subscribers I received an email with a link that allows me to make reservations 24 hours before the official start. I tried as soon as I had received the email and was greeted by a site that was largely unresponsive and generated time out errors. When I finally got through, all the good restaurants were already fully booked! And that’s a day before the official opening of reservations.

Michelin star restaurants La Rive and Ron Blaauw were just unavailable as the Brasserie in the Amstel Hotel, Christophe, and Lute in Ouderkerk. I just checked again and 44 out of 155 restaurants are already fully booked.

And while €25,- for a three course dinner is a great deal at the top Amsterdam restaurants, it’s really not worth it for places like cocktail lounge Barça, simple eetcafe De Duvel or average at best Italian l’Incontro. Sounds more like a cheap way to fill these restaurants than a way to make an exquisite cuisine available to everyone for a few days.

I did get a reservation for Oriental 128 which I was curious to try out. Oriental 128 is a high end Chinese on Amstelveenseweg that gets good reviews for its specialty dishes and wine list.

Restaurant Week Amsterdam - Loading...
Restaurant Week Amsterdam - Loading...

dutchgrub is a Qype Insider

dutchgrub recently was promoted to Insider on Qype! My Qype profile is now highlighted by a blue star and they sent me a t-shirt and a pack of Haribo Colo-Rado.

Qype is the largest user-generated local review site in Europe with a strong focus on restaurants and night-life. It’s like Yelp for Europe. The company was founded in Hamburg, Germany, and not surprisingly is strongest there with more than 110.000 restaurants reviewed. Qype is now expanding in other European countries and has built up a good following in the UK with 40.000 restaurants currently in their database.

Amsterdam restaurants reviewd on Qype

Qype is still small in the Netherlands but is becoming an interesting alternative to current leaders iens and dinnersite. iens has been around for many years, starting out as a printed restaurant guide with content contributed by anyone willing to fill out a test form. iens is, however, steadily declining. The reviews tend to be short and generic and the search and browse functionality makes it difficult to filter out the right restaurants. Sponsored content is taking a more and more prominent place.  dinnersite organizes the restaurantweek and generally aligns more closely with restaurants rather than guests. It never managed to gain sufficient scale, and while being useful for finding general information, lacks in the reviews.

I have always loved Yelp and Chowhound, mostly for the great content by foodies for foodies and in Yelp’s case also for the nice user interface. You might need to take some time reading through the reviews, but I think it’s great how many valuable reviews foodies post there. Reading through them gives me a great impression of restaurants when researching a trip abroad. I hope that Qype – or Yelp, which is now expanding in Europe – can do the same for Amsterdam!