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.
City trips can be tiring. You want to explore all the sites and end up walking around town more than planned. And you will frequently find yourself surrounded by many other tourists who are after the same attractions.
A great option to get some rest is to have lunch at one of the more upscale restaurants in the center of Amsterdam. Lunch at these places is much less formal and expensive than dinner, but still let’s you take in the atmosphere and sample the food.
Two great options for an Amsterdam lunch in style are the Dylan Hotel, home of one Michelin star Vinkeles, and De Belhamel, which has a Michelin Bib Gourmand.
De Belhamel is situated stunningly on Brouwersgracht right where Herengracht ends. From the dining room or the terrace you have an unobstructed view of the length of Herengracht. The lunch menu features fancy sandwiches, a ciabatta with vitello tonato for example, various salads and pasta. We quite enjoyed the spaghetti with pancetta and rucola. While the food and service are ambitious, the vibe is quite informal as the space is small and the personnel friendly.
The Dylan Hotel is another oasis of tranquility where you can enjoy lunch in a classy environment. Right next to the Michelin star kitchen of restaurant Vinkeles, you sit down in style in the lounge. The tables are set beautifully and the service is very attentive. The menu is a nice mix of simpler and haute cuisine dishes. There are a club sandwich with fries and a hamburger with cheddar cheese, but also dried fruit bread with melted tallegio or Gillardeau oysters. Our favorite was a sourdough bread with cream cheese and iberico ham.
Hopefully having lunch in style will help you recharge and enjoy the buzz of the city the rest of the day!
1013 GX Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 6221095
Public Transport: Tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Martelaarsgracht
Price: €15 to €25 per person (lunch)
1016 GB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 5302010
Public Transport: Tram 1, 2, or 5 to Spui
Price: €15 to €25 per person (lunch)
I’ve written a few times about Burgermeester, the self-proclaimed master of burgers in Amsterdam. Their formula of high-quality burgers in a no frills setting has just been copied quite successfully by the Burger Bar. The Burger Bar has two shops in Amsterdam, one near the Dam and one just off Rembrandtplein.
Both Burgermeester and the Burger Bar focus on quality meat, fresh ingredients and burgers made fresh on the spot. Where Burgermeester excels at a menu of inventive burgers, the Burger Bar lets you pick and choose your own burger. You can pick from three types of bread, a number of extras such as cheese, onions or mushrooms, as well as twelve sauces. Trying to fully cater to everybody’s preferences, you can even choose the type of meat! There’s the standard Irish beef, the superb black Angus and a 100% Kobe Wagyu option.
It’s rare to see quality food and take-away in the touristy areas around the Dam and Rembrantplein and the Burger Bar is a great option when you’re around there looking for a quick lunch or snack. I thoroughly enjoyed my black Angus burger with cheese and mushrooms on an Italian roll! I’ll try the Wagyu burger next time.
Broodje Bert is a small sandwich shop on a corner of the Singel between the Negen Straatjes and Kalverstraat. The appearance is distinctly Dutch. The location, the typical Amsterdam canal house, the small shop with the large windows and the name Broodje Bert all suggest thin slices of cheese on fluffy white buns. But step inside and you will immediately get a Mediterranean feel. There’s a great buzz, smell of fresh bread and herbs, and the friendly smile of the owner that makes the slight chaos appear to be part of some grand design.
I went to Broodje Bert to get sandwiches for me and the others at the office. The logistics were a little difficult as Bert has no web site or menu online otherwise. He also only does take away and no delivery. So I cycled over, took a picture of the menu and sent it back to the office. Thank god for the mobile interwebs! I placed the order and had a good time with the others in the store, pretty much all of which seemed to be regulars knowing exactly what they wanted. You can also sit inside, at a small counter behind the large window and look out at the many bikes crisscrossing by.
The sandwiches were large, messy and good. Broodje Bert is known for its grilled chicken sandwich which I tried. It’s a large, thin slice of chicken breast, grilled briefly, with lots of marinade. It’s blackened from the marinade going up in flames when turned over on the grill. The sandwich is garnished with lots of crunchy lettuce, corn and other greens, and drenched in lots of yummy garlic sauce. The healthy ham sandwich and the BLT with freshly sliced, crispy bacon also looked very good! And the burger with lamb meat on Turkish bread seemed very popular with the regulars.
Broodje Bert is located on Singel 321, Amsterdam and open daily from 9am to 5pm.
La Rive is one of seven restaurants with a Michelin star in Amsterdam. It’s located in the classy Amstel hotel and was rumored to but didn’t receive its second star in November 2009.
I had lunch at La Rive as part of Dining with the Stars, the Michelin star only edition of the Amsterdam restaurant week. The deal was a prix fixe lunch for € 40,=.
The overall experience at La Rive is impressive. The Amstel hotel is very classy with its marble entrance hall and doormen in tuxedos. The restaurant is just as exclusive with old school wooden furniture with golden rims, paintings of the Dutch masters of the golden ages on the walls and table cloths starched to the max. I often find that Michelin star dining experiences are overly formal and spoil much of the fun and this kind of expensive but middle of the road decor is part of the reason.
I was positively surprised by the service. First of all it was as professional and present as you would expect from a Michelin star restaurant. There are more people looking after your well being than you can imagine – receptionist, host, floor manager, waiter, bus boy, sommelier and probably a few others I forgot about. And everything is taken care of constantly – your glass topped off as soon as you take a sip, your napkin replaced as soon as you leave the table and your satisfaction with the food checked and double checked. While this is to be expected, I also found the service very friendly and with a good sense of humor, which nicely loosed up the formal atmosphere!
The food was absolutely amazing. I was most impressed by the consistency of the elaborate dishes. It’s really unbelievable how each and every of these complex compositions looks and tastes exactly the same!
As is often the case, the amuses were the highlight! So unexpected and just a little crazy. And so fun to try and experience the daring flavors and textures.
The menu was set although La Rive was happy to serve a vegetarian version or accommodate any other dietary requirements. For the carnivorous foodie there was an excellent Wagyu tartar for starters, garnished with mushrooms and paté. Next was cod with ox tail and red cabbage. I thought this worked really well as the ox tail and cabbage supported the cod really well and subtly contrasted its flavors rather than being overpowering. The main was roasted duck with Jabugo ham.
We were a little underwhelmed by the dessert, a mixed platter with mille-feuille, praline, and anise sorbet. It seemed slightly ordinary and was missing something to tie it together.
Overall the lunch was incredibly well executed. The quality of the ingredients was superb, the consistency of the dishes amazing and the service and decor impeccable. As with other Michelin restaurants, we did feel like we were missing the fun. Maybe we need to grow up, but for now we would be happy with a more daring and innovative menu and a more personal and less formal ambiance.
Update: Kek closed doors in late July 2011. A sign on the window says that a new restaurant called “Doordagt” will open in late August.
Hoofddorpplein has a new organic lunch place with free wireless. kek – short for “kant en klaar” or ready to eat – opened doors in January and has frequently looked busy!
Hoofddorpplein is a square with shops and restaurants in a working class neighborhood just past the far end of Vondelpark. It won’t make it to the top of Amsterdam tourist sights. But it does have a number of interesting food stores and restaurants including well-known wine store Ton Overmars, recently opened Italian wine dealer Vino di Pino, eetcafe Gent aan de Schinkel, a kitchen store, an organic food store and now kek.
The interior of kek was completely redone. The owners turned what used to be a gift store into a modern and bright lunch location. The design signals healthy and the furniture is simple with a lot of wood and country style folding tables. There is a long bench along the side wall that nicely connects the small tables.
Owners Piet Hein and Frederique run kek and create a very friendly atmosphere. When I visited for the first time, Frederique found time to sit down and explain the menu choices and Piet Hein appeared from the kitchen to personally deliver the food. Other guests, including the owner’s parents, shared their positive thoughts about the food and decor.
The food is simple but good. The sandwiches are made from fresh ingredients on thick slices of dark bread. While not masterpieces, a nice step up from the all too frequent bread and cheese. kek also serves simple dishes such as soups and pasta. All dishes are available in the restaurants and also to go – hence the name “kant en klaar”.
Besides the welcoming service, my highlights were the house wine and the free wireless. The wine is provided by Ton Overmars – a nice touch to help your neighboors. And the bright and open design combined with free wireless makes Kek an ideal destination for checking email or writing a blog post while enjoying lunch.