Like in many other cities around the world, numerous food events have been popping up in and around Amsterdam. They are fun especially in the summer, when the weather is nice. So here’s our selection for summer 2014:
The NeighbourFood Market
The NeighbourFood Market is kind of a flea market of caterers, all making different kinds of food from all around the world to be consumed right then and there. It takes place once a month on a Sunday at the Westergasfabriek.
Taste brings together some of the best chefs of the city for a weekend of cooking and sampling. Admission is € 9,50 and a taste of a signature dish of restaurants like Michelin stars &samhoud places or Aan de Poel as well as many others is between € 5 and € 7,50.
One of the questions we get asked the most is “what are the latest trends of the Amsterdam food scene?”. And while we would love to come up with a surprising and insightful answer every time, that’s not how it works. It’s usually some rather unexpected event that triggers us to recognize a new trend. And so it happened last weekend on a trip to our favorite wine and liquor store Ton Overmars.
There are a lot of new local microbreweries in Amsterdam!
The Veterans – Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Brouwerij de Prael
It’s not that there were no microbreweries in Amsterdam before.
Actually, Brouwerij ‘t IJ has been around since 1985, and we have enjoyed many of their tasty brews throughout the years, especially on their lovely terrace by the windmill in Amsterdam Oost.
And it wasn’t just us, as Brouwerij ‘t IJ has been very successful. They extended their tasting room a few years ago and opened a second brewery in early 2013. So today you can find their distinct ostrich logo (a pun on IJ and ei, which means egg) in many bars and shops, and enjoy their regular selection of brews as well as seasonal specials.
Equally successful, although not around for quite as long, has been Brouwerij de Prael, another established household name in beers in Amsterdam, with its selection of beers named after Dutch chanson singers and tasting room smack in the middle of the red light district.
Given their success, and the microbrewery craze that swept the US, it’s probably surprising that nobody else was concocting fresh IPAs or mean Belgian Tripels around Amsterdam. But that has changed now.
The Rookies – Brouwerij Pampus, Two Chefs Brewing, and Butcher’s Tears
The self-proclaimed old salts at Brouwerij Pampus spent much of 2012 and 2013 experimenting with different brews, gathering extensive feedback through their Facebook page and participating in countless beer festivals with a wide variety of beers. All their beers seem to follow a sailor’s naming scheme, such as the Drenkeling (drowning person), a Juniper Ale, or Seeheld (hero of the sea), an IPA that we quite liked for its bitter yet somewhat unexpected but lovely creamy flavor.
Two Chefs Brewing also started in 2012. Coming from a background as professional chefs and looking for interesting flavors they are on a mission to put more barley, more hops and just generally more flavor back into beer. So far they have made available an IPA called Green Bullet, which indeed is heavy on the hops.
The last newcomer is Butcher’s Tears, located in small-scale industrial zone by the tram depot in Amsterdam Zuid. The tasting room and website look distinctly grungy, but there seems to be a rather professional organisation behind it if the range of beers and the list of distribution points are any indication. We liked hanging out in their tasting room where both the Night Cap, a smooth pale ale, and the refreshing Green Cap went down well.
Where to Taste
Quite a nice list if we may say so! But there appear to be even more such as Brouwerij De 7 Deugden, which provides work opportunities to disabled people, Jopen, the pride of Haarlem, or Oedipus Brewing who are currently looking for investors through a crowfunding platform.
We are probably still missing a few, so best to do some exploring yourself. Here’s where:
Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij de Prael and Butcher’s Tears have fun tasting rooms:
1018 AL Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 528 6237
Open daily 2pm to 8pm
Public transport: Tram 10 to Hoogte Kadijk stop or tram 14 to Pontanusstraat
Cuisine: Limited selection of cold snacks
Vibe: Love all
Oudezijds Armsteeg 26
1012 GP Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 408 4469
Open Tuesday to Sunday 12pm to 12am, weekend until 1am
Public transport: Any tram, metro or train to Central Station
Cuisine: Snacks and small dishes
Neighborhood: Red light district
Vibe: Living room
1075 LB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)6 5390 9777
Open Wednesday to Sunday 4pm to 9pm
Public transport: Bus 15 or tram 16 to Haarlemmermeerstation
Two of our favorite beer bars that serve some of the above, next to an amazing selection of specialty beers on tap and bottled, are Café Gollem and Arendsnest:
1015 BS Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 421 2057
Open Daily 2pm to 12am, weekend until 2am
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk
Cuisine: Limited selection of cold snacks
1012 VZ Amsterdam
Open weekdays 4pm to 1am, weekends 12pm to 2am
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, or 5 to Spui
Cuisine: Cheese snacks
Vibe: Dive bar
Or bring a few bottles home at one of these two great specialty stores, De Bierkoning and Ton Overmaars:
1012 ZL Amsterdam
Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 7pm and Sunday 1pm to 6pm
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Dam
1059 CV Amsterdam
Open Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 6pm, Thursday and Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm
Public transport: 2 to Hoofddorpplein
The number of Michelin stars keeps growing in Amsterdam. It has gone up five years in a row now and reached a total of 15.
The biggest contribution came from &samhoud places, which went straight to 2 stars thanks to its molecular gastronomy menu and ability to keep its stars after the move to Amsterdam. While there still is no three star restaurant, 2013 saw four with two stars: &samhoud places, Aan de Poel in Amstelveen, which went from 1 to 2, Ciel Bleu and Ron Blaauw.
Then there are seven restaurants with one star, with Bord’Eau being the lone newcomer.
It will be interesting to see if 2014 will be another year of additional Michelin stars for Amsterdam as Ron Blaauw has changed his formula and gone for great food in a less formal setting and Amsterdam would need to make up for two stars.
The Okura Hotel with its range of restaurants including Michelin stars Ciel Bleu and Yamazato, is putting on a vast Christmas dining program. There’s a Christmas brunch, various dinners with special menus and much more.
While many restaurants are still closed around the holidays, it’s encouraging that we have six options this year compared to only three 12 months ago. So we are pleased to note that restaurants are responding to the demand for dining out on Christmas in Amsterdam.
Ron Blaauw is one of the most prolific Dutch chefs and one of the few to be decorated with two Michelin stars in Amsterdam. He maintained those stars for many years, first in picturesque Ouderkerk aan de Amstel just outside the city, then in Amsterdam proper after his move there.
And then he did the unthinkable: He closed [Dutch] down the two Michelin star restaurant, only to re-open the next day at the same location, but with a different, less formal, menu and setting. And it worked beautifully!
We’ve been on the record for preferring smaller, more personal, less formal and possibly more daring restaurants to the Michelin stars, especially those in hotels. So we were very pleased about the news and eager to try out the all new Ron Gastrobar. And we were not disappointed!
The setting is chic and classy but not formal. The gastrobar takes no reservation, so we just walked in and were welcomed by the young and hip waiting staff. We were quickly shown our table and once seated happy to be greeted by the bartender. He came up with some great suggestions based on our preferences, not settling for safe choices but daring to pitch the unusual and set us up with a “Four More Years”, supposedly invented for Obama’s re-election and nicely combining gin, bubbly egg white and green sencha tea leaves. The cocktail plus the bread in a paper bag with nutty butter and pickles made us feel quite relaxed and inspired.
Like the setting, the menu is very different from the formal Michelin style. It’s basically two pages of dishes at € 15,= each that you can mix and match any way you want. The dishes are a mix of French classics like oysters or a steak tartare, Asian dishes including sushi and also some fusion plates such as a Wagyu burger or grilled Chinese cabbage with marrow and sage.
We went with two dishes per person, which was sufficient but left room for dessert.
Another thing that we liked much better than at most Michelin star restaurants is the wine list. It’s much more modern with many interesting new world wines rather than pages of Bordeaux wines.
The desserts are a similar mix of French classics and Asian influences, as well as cheese from our favorite cheese store L’Amuse just down the road.
Overall, the food was great, in no way less quality than the Michelin star predecessor. And we loved the casual atmosphere, service with a fun attitude and modern menu. Let’s hope this is a new trend!
1075 PB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 49 61 943
Open Monday to Sunday from 5:30pm.
Public transport: Tram 2 to Amstelveenseweg
Cuisine: French International
Price: €50 to €75 per person
We’re very sad to see two of our favorite restaurants in Amsterdam close down. Both De Witte Uyl and Lovefood closed doors over the last weeks.
De Witte Uyl had been on our list of Best Amsterdam Restaurants since 2009. And Lovefood was one of our Best Amsterdam Brunch places for the last three years. Our lists change rarely – it takes several extraordinary dinners before a restaurant is included. And the restaurants on the lists have shown amazing consistency in their quality. That makes it even harder to see two of them go.
We’re incredibly thankful for all the hard work and uncompromising passion for good food that owners Annemieke and Jason and their teams have put into their restaurants. They set themselves high standards and weren’t satisfied unless those were met day in and day out.
And true to themselves, both owners decided to close shop at the top of their game. With their dining rooms still filled with happy guests every night, even in times of economic crisis, Annemieke and Jason decided that it was time to move on, leave troubles with landlords, diners who don’t get the concept of inventive desserts like the chocolate board, or large numbers of no shows behind, and start new exciting projects.
Annemieke has actually already moved to France and opened three fantastic apartments for rent, naturally each with a big, fully equipped kitchen. And Jason is working on a new idea to be revealed in 2014.
Thank you very much, Annemieke and Jason, good luck with your new projects and please keep us posted!