Truffle Week at te Pas Amsterdam

restaurant te pas - business cardRestaurant te Pas is organizing a special truffle menu next week, December 8 – 14.

I went to te Pas for Restaurantweek 2007. It’s a small restaurant, located just off Leidseplein on Lijnbaansgracht 274 and quite stylish, especially compared to the tourist traps in its immediate surroundings. te Pas, which is Dutch for “appropriate”, is quite appropriately run by the te Pas family. Brothers Evert and Hugo serve French / international food – nothing special but well executed and in a friendly setting.

restaurant te pas - trufflesFrom December 8 – 14 they have a special truffle menu. te Pas will serve asparagus with ham or salmon and truffles, ravioli with a truffle and porcini filling, pork cutlets with kraut and truffles and several other truffle dishes. You can go for a 3, 4, or 5 course menu.

I will go and hope that some delicious truffles will make up for the short and slush snow filled days of early December in Amsterdam…

Restaurant Week Amsterdam 2008 – Tante Agaath and Heerlijk

Last week was the summer edition of Restaurant Week in Amsterdam. During restaurant week you can sample a three course dinner for EUR 25,= at any of the more than 500 participating restaurants. If you are quick enough, that is, as their server traditionally grinds to a halt due to the enormous traffic by people trying to reserve a table.

I subscribe to Dining City Amsterdam, which means an opportunity to reserve a table for restaurant week a few days in advance. The idea behind restaurant week is to try new restaurants and we managed to score tables at Tante Agaath and Heerlijk – both in the Jordaan and both new to us.

Both Tante Agaath and Heerlijk are examples of how restaurants should *not* do restaurant week. Menus were boring with a limited number of rather simple choices. I guess it’s partially understandable as restaurants need to deal with larger than usual number of guests and a limited budget. But to me the idea was to attract new guests in the future by luring them in for the first time during restaurant week. And then having them return because they liked it.

tante agaath outsideTante Agaath was clearly the better of the two. Service was prompt and friendly – much unlike what was said in some reviews that criticized the service of Agaath. The starters we ordered were a trio of fish with salmon, shrimp and scallops; and paté. The scallops were the best part. The paté was ok although unfortunately off-the-shelf stuff. My main course was an entrecôte that was significantly past the medium-rare I had ordered. It’s actually amazing how few restaurants get this right. The profiteroles for dessert were good.

The wine list at Tante Agaath was short but decent. We went with a fresh Viognier that was quickly finished. Tap water was served chilled and without having to ask for it.

restaurant heerlijk outsideHeerlijk was downright disappointing. We had made our reservation for 20:00, showed up on time, were seated promptly and still did not have starters before 21:30 – an hour and a half later. The menu was terribly boring – we settled for shrimp cocktail and salad with smoked duck for starters; dorado and lamb fillets – served with the same potatoes and veggies – where the third option was also rather standard lemon chicken; and cheesecake for dessert.

While scoring low on imagination, Heerlijk does get credit for execution. The duck cooked just right, still pink. The dorado was flavorful. And the lamb was tender. The wine list was so limited, I settled for the house wine, an OK Valpolicella. Expensive bottled water is served only – no tap. The espresso afterwards was not hot enough and tasted slightly stale – and to top it all I had to get sugar myself from a neighboring table.

We definitely won’t be back to Heerlijk. We might go back to Tante Agaath if we happen to be in the area. And while I had marked restaurant week in my agenda the last two times, I will probably skip the next one!

Update on Klein Jansen

At the end of August I reported about an unwelcoming visit to Klein Jansen during Restaurant Week.

I also posted a comment on, the organizer of Restaurant Week and also host of the web site of Klein Jansen. Even though the food was good (but not great), I rated the restaurant “slecht” (bad) because of the annoying formality and self-importance.

A few hours email I received an email from Hans Jansen, co-owner of Klein Jansen. I thought it was great to hear back from them, assuming that they cared about my feedback. Their message, however, did not express any interest in my feedback and only informed me that it was now too late for expressing dissatisfaction and that I should have done so that same evening I was there. Hm. By now I was really wondering if Klein Jansen was as non-pretentious as their web site states. Didn’t they care about my feedback? Didn’t they want to win back a customer?

I tried again, emailing back and asking about an explanation regarding my specific points of criticism. The response was a note that all other reviews were positive and that Klein Jansen was sure that I would be satisfied on my next visit.

Maybe it’s just me, but now I was feeling looked down upon even more. So I decided to have a closer look at reviews by others on diningcity and iens.

Granted, the ratings are solidly positive: There are many “good” and “very good” ratings and only few “average” and “bad”. I did note, however, some interesting things:

  1. Reviews of Klein Jansen on diningcity are not visible on the regular restaurant page.
      Klein Jansen regular on diningcity
     You can only see them when accessing
    Klein Jansen specific on diningcity
  2. There is a post by Hans Jansen and Yolanda Klein stating that all anonymous criticism will be removed from the diningcity review list.

And when reading the commentary and reviews more carefully, I also noticed many good reviews with a caveat, most of them in line with my earlier comments about inflexibility and a tendency of caring more about the restaurant itself than the customer.

In summary: Klein Jansen is good if you do not mind a somewhat formal setting and if you do like a set menu with pre-selected wines. I would not recommend it if you are looking for a restaurant with a personal touch that is passionate about its food and its customers.

Pretentiousness at Klein Jansen

Klein Janssen was the second stop of restaurant week. And quite frankly, I did not enjoy the evening because we felt unwelcome! I find it quite ironic that their web site states “ambitious without being pretentious” as their philosophy. While we constantly felt that restaurant week participants were considered trouble rather than guests.

Reservations were only possible at 18:00 – too early – and 20:30 – too late. The reason being that all menus to all guests were served at the same time. We even had to wait for our food until some late guests had arrived. The wine list – normally very extensive and exquisite, I heard – was reduced to an uninteresting selection of some six or seven wines. And the waiter was pushing us to go for set wines – a glass of wine, specifically chosen by the restaurant to accompany each course. I usually dislike these because it’s quite overwhelming and often the wines included are average at best.

Beer as aperetif was frowned upon and from the bottle. The waiter was an intern. And people arriving later than us were served food first.

I have read good things about Klein Jansen and the food was good, albeit rather standard – fish trio and poularde. But overall the disappointment was too much and we are definitely not coming back.

It’s ok if you do not participate in restaurant week. But if you do, do it wholeheartedly and use the opportunity to introduce your restaurant to a wider audience. Be at your best. You might lose some money that night, but it’s a good investment.

Cucumber-Melon-Eel-Soup at de Odessa

I had been wanting to go to Odessa for quite a while because I had heard good things from several people and was intrigued by the location up by the Oostelijke Handelskade.

Restaurantweek 2007 finally was the right opportunity to go and it was well worth it! Highlighted by a surprising and delicious Cucumber-Melon-Eel-Soup we thoroughly enjoyed the food, the ambiance and the surroundings.

De Odessa is an old Russian merchant ship floating peacefully on the waters of the IJhaven near the second bridge to Java IJland. It’s fun to cycle up there on the wide pavement of the dock, behind the redecorated storage houses turned luxury offices and apartments. After having boarded the old ship we had the option to dine on the upper deck – a sort of winter-garden with a modern interior – and the lower deck. We opted for the less formal lower deck that also serves as a disco location and is decorated in 60’s decor, with a lot of brown, beige and orange, round lamps and leather benches. Being in the body of the ship we were actually below sea level and had some fun watching from way below as other boats passed by.

Staff was very friendly and helpful, letting us choose the deck and table, allowing for time to look at the menu and wine list and taking the time to give us a little background on the ship and the restaurant.

This being restaurant, the Odessa served a set-menu with a choice of two for each the starter, main and desert. So between the two of us we got to try it all! The starters were a marinated pulpo with gambas and tomato and almond sauce and a cold cucumber soup with water melon and smoked eel. Both were great! The pulpo was tender and still had enough texture and consistency. The gambas were flavorful and the sauce was very supportive, adding a nice sweetness.

The cold cucumber soup was the highlight of the dinner. I was intrigued by the combination, thinking that it might be anywhere from bland to savory and from well composed to rather disparate. And for a cold soup to be enjoyable, it needs to be well balanced. And well balanced it was! The combination worked out perfectly: The cucumber provides a solid foundation, is pungent and was very present when first tasting the soup. The watermelon provides a perfect, smooth and slightly sweet counterpart that dominated the end of each spoonful. And the smoked eel came through nicely in between with its harder texture and salty and fishy taste!

The main courses were less intriguing but well executed. The fish choice was fried bass with asparagus, cantharells and risso rosso – a red risotto. The meat was grilled entrecote from Ireland. Both were done just right, tender but with consistency and allowing for the natural flavor of the fresh ingredients to come through.

The Odessa also provided for a wine option – different glasses that have been selected to accompany each course well. We chose a Gavi di Gavi from the extensive wine list and were very pleased with the choice. It might be a stretch with an entrecote, but worked well being both refreshing and aromatic.

For desert we had sticky toffee cake and rhubarb crumble. Check out the desert list on their web site; it’s great too find a restaurant that goes beyond ice cream and creme brulee and puts real effort into deserts.

Overall a great night! It’s fun to be on a boat. The interior is well designed and the location is inspiring. The staff is friendly and laid-back. The food both interesting and well executed. We are certainly coming back.

Google maps: Veemkade 259, 1019 CZ Amsterdam

Web site:

business card odessa

Restaurantweek 2007

This year’s restaurant week in Amsterdam will take place August 27 – 31.

The idea of restaurant week is simple: Participating restaurants provide a three course dinner for the fixed price of EUR 25,=. For guests this is a great way to discover new restaurants, especially the more upscale ones that budget usually does not allow dining at. Guests sign up for a table through a web site.

I find two problems with restaurant week:

  1. It’s very hard to get a reservation. Last year, I was too late and when I tried signing up, all tables were already taken. This year I made sure to sign up on Aug 1, the first day of registrations, at 3pm, when registration opens. I managed to get reservations on three nights, but the registration process was quite an ordeal with friendly messages to try again later, session time outs, and the site simply not responding.
  2. The participating restaurants in many cases are quite ordinary. Sure, there is Altmann, Bice, Pulitzers and Restaurant Café Roux. But many participating restaurants certainly do not fit the definition of upscale. Brasserie Schiller, Gespot, Lokaal 4 or Pasta e Pasta – to name but a few – should have a menu for EUR 25,- any day…

So I settled for Odessa, Klein Jansen and Te Pas – no Michelin ambition, but good quality, less formal restaurants that I am very keen on trying in late August. Will of course let you know what I think.

Are you going too? Drop me a note which of the participating restaurants you found most appealing and which ones you are missing.

Restaurantweek Amsterdam

Participating resaturants