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...

Restobar Knus – Empty on a Friday Night

restobar knus amsterdam - loungeKnus is a combination of restaurant and lounge spread across three cozy floors of an old Dutch house in the Leidseplein area. The menu is small but versatile – a meat, a fish and a vegetarian fusion dish and a large selection of montaditos, Basque style tapas served on a sort of bruschetta style bread.

Against better judgement, we went to Knus last Friday after a company BBQ, thinking that it would be the perfect place to continue drinking and to enjoy some snacks later on. We quickly noticed that this was a mistake as we were the only guests that evening. The food was mediocre and while the staff tried to explain that the emptiness was unusual we could not help but think that Knus will soon make room for a new concept.

While I still think that Knus is one of the better restaurants of its kind, there are two important lessons that foodies should remember: Avoid the Leidseplein area, which is touristy, over-priced and laden with poor quality restaurants. And don’t bother with “restobars” or “gastropubs” that promise to be a one-stop-shop for a whole night out, aim high with fancy fusion or bistro menus and ultimately fail miserably.

La Rive Best Michelin Restaurant According to Restaurantweek

Restaurantweek guests rated the participating restaurants. Honors of highest rated Michelin restaurant went to one-star La Rive.

La Rive is situated in the gorgeous Amstelhotel. I’m sure it’s great quality and impeccable service. But I’m not inspired by the menu, which is very traditional. Cod with cauliflower, sea bass with pumpkin, and entrecôte with mushrooms. And the prices are definitely Michelin star worthy – € 75 for the entrecôte made me look twice…

Dine Around the Okura

dine-around-okuraHotel Okura is offering a sort of “anti restaurant week” to celebrate keeping its Michelin stars and Bib Gourmand. For € 120,= you can book a menu that starts off with three traditional Japanese courses at one-star Yamazato. You will then head up 23 floors and enjoy three courses at two-star French cuisine Ciel Bleu.

Both restaurants are located in Hotel Okura at Ferdinand Bolstraat 333. The offer is available every Sunday until February 22. For reservations, call +31 (0) 20 – 6787 450.

Restaurantweek: Stars for Sponsors

Today reservations for Amsterdam Restaurantweek opened for Diningcity members. Reservations will be open to everyone as of tomorrow.

While blog Liquor & Wine and news site Zestz were still praising the participation of Michelin star restaurants during Restaurantweek, I had already warned about difficulties getting a good table last week. 33 Michelin decorated restaurants are reported to be participating. Even out of a total of 650 restaurants that is pretty good.

My recommendation was joining Diningcity. But it’s impossible to get a Michelin starred table. Even for Diningcity members! Part of the reason is that Restaurantweek sponsors have advertisement deals that allow pre bookings. I know of at least one sponsor’s campaign that allowed booking last week already.

Given that the majority of non-Michelin restaurants have nothing special to offer during Restaurantweek,  I will skip this year’s edition.

Getting a Reservation at Restaurantweek Amsterdam

The next spring edition of Amsterdam Restaurantweek takes place March 2nd to 8th, 2009. I am torn about it. It’s a great idea but also has two serious flaws here in Amsterdam.

During Restaurantweek  more than 650 restaurants across the Netherlands offer a fixed price set lunch for € 20,- or a fixed price set dinner for € 25,-. The idea is to provide for an easy way for present and future foodies to try out new restaurants – especially the better and usually more expensive ones.

The first problem is that the majority of participating restaurants either lacks the required quality or has the wrong attitude. € 25,- plus drinks for a set dinner simply isn’t such a great deal at average restaurants such as Heerlijk. And then there are good restaurants that lower the quality of food and service beyond belief for restaurantweek. Klein Jansen is an example. Rather than promote their restaurant, they try to make a quick Euro.

Secondly, booking a table at a good restaurant is very hard. Reservations must be made through a special restaurantweek site. Reservations will open February 4th at 10am and many people will log in and bring the system down.

You can improve your chances of getting a table at a good restaurant by signing up for the Diningcity newsletter. Subscribers will be emailed a user name and password that will allow them to make reservations on February 2nd at 12pm.

And you should know which restaurants you want to make a reservation at. So check out the list of participating restaurants and decide up front where you want to go. Some interesting options in Amsterdam are Michelin decorated La Rive and Ron Blaauw or new and notoriously busy hot spot Momo.

dining city buzz restaurantweek 2009