Madelief Amsterdam – Old-Fashioned Love for Food and Wine

Dutch-Belgian couple Madelief and Jean Michel, the owners, describe Madelief as the slowest restaurant in the Netherlands. They want you to take the time to savor the flavors and enjoy your company. And they do their utmost to make you feel at home for an evening of traditional French dishes and wine.

You might actually need some patience locating Madelief, off the beaten path in a residential street near Vondelpark, and marked only by a small table with a lantern and a chalkboard in the window with the daily specials. The inside is decorated sparsely, with bare brick walls, simple chairs and tables, visible cabling and the sliding mechanism of the bathroom door equipped with a big old jar filled with salt as counterweight. While simple, the decor is welcoming due to a lot of personal touches and eye for detail like your name written on a small chalkboard to hold your reservation. Everything puts you in the mood for slow food, although the chairs felt somewhat uncomfortable at the end of a long dinner.

Having found our table, we were generously welcomed with an aperitif of pear cider and an amuse of very flavorful local North Sea shrimp. The menu is small and distinctly French. And the host was happy to help us navigate between paté and fois gras and suggest the right wines, of which a few special ones were not on the list.

By now we had nicely settled down into slow food mode. And the starters of scallops with a wonderfully creamy saffron risotto and paté with quail and onion confit were well worth the wait. The many distinct flavors came together perfectly. The mains were equally satisfying. A well prepared monkfish with a smooth buttery sauce and, the highlight, quail filled with fois gras and an intense truffle sauce. Only for professionals, the menu had stated, and Madelief certainly had managed to get amazing flavors going in this dish. We loved the food, but would caution vegetarians and people with a distaste for fois gras against Madelief.

Madelief is not for everyone, and that’s exactly how the hosts intend it to be. But if you are a foodie who enjoys traditional cooking and loves to take their time savoring their flavors, you must venture out to Zocherstraat and pay Madelief and Jean Michel a visit. Ask them for recommendations and let them guide you through a slow paced evening of wining and dining.

Madelief (no website)
Zocherstraat 10
1054 LX Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 6122000
Public Transport: Tram 1 to Overtoomsesluis
Cuisine: French
Neighbourhood: West
Vibe: Slow
Price: €70 per person

Amsterdam Restaurant News

Two of our favorite places that were closed temporarily are now back and another one unfortunately has closed down. So I thought I’d write a brief post to update you on the latest development.

restaurant marius amsterdamFirst of all, Restaurant Marius, one of our Best Amsterdam Restaurants, has reopened in its former location. Marius was closed from late May to late September. Plans for moving to a larger venue fell through due to issues with permits, so Marius will continue to do its magic from the charming Barentszstraat locale.

lovefood amsterdam logoIn other good news, Lovefood, one of our Best Amsterdam Brunches, has returned. They are now operating on a monthly schedule, every first Sunday of the month. You can get the details on their Facebook page. Make sure you do get a reservation. It’s very busy due to the monthly schedule and several good reviews.

You win some, you lose some, they say. And unfortunately this appears to be true as we just received an email letting us know that The Man Who Cuts the Meat has closed down. Executive chef Chris van der Kuil has moved to Saigon, Vietnam, and is now working on Flow.

Restaurant Marius Amsterdam Still Closed

Update October 11th, 2010: As you can read in the comments below, Marius has reopened as of late September 2010.

Update March 22nd, 2012: Marius has moved into a new location, just 40 meters from the previous one, and right next to the new sausage and wine bar “Worst” just opened by the same owner.

Most restaurants in Amsterdam have re-opened after vacation and everything is back to normal.

The one sad exception is Marius, one of dutchgrub’s Best Amsterdam Restaurants. Marius closed doors in late May for renovations and to take some time off to find new inspiration. As you can see on the photos, there’s not much visible progress. The inside merely looks abandoned with no sign of work done. And the sign on the door still says that Marius will re-open in September, likely at a new location, but that the necessary permissions were slow to acquire.

Marius is great and we hope they’ll be back soon with a great new restaurant!

restaurant marius amsterdam - door sign.JPGrestaurant marius amsterdam - inside.JPGrestaurant marius amsterdam - closed sign.JPG

Hotel De Goudfazant – Hip Decor and French Cuisine in Noord

Unlike its name suggests, Hotel De Goudfazant is not a hotel but a hip restaurant in Amsterdam Noord, behind central station on the other side of the IJ. It’s quite a hike involving a ferry and longish walk or bike ride, but the cool industrial look, well executed French menu, and view of Amsterdam from the other side make it well worth the trip.

hotel de goudfazant amsterdam - boat shed

Hotel de Goudfazant is not easy to find. Having crossed the IJ, you will have to navigate through a slightly decrepit industrial area, follow smallish signs to a large parking area with a number of sheds and garages. The shed that houses de Goudfazant has very much been left in its original state with wide shutters that can be opened, heavy duty lifts and industrial heaters all visible, and walls and steel beams uncovered. The space is huge, several meters high, the restaurant a large open space, and additional areas accessible behind. The restaurant furniture is minimalist modern, long tables, plastic chairs and an enormous chandelier suspended from the ceiling.

hotel de goudfazant amsterdam - dining room

The cuisine at De Goudfazant is distinctly French and the menu a reasonably priced three course prix fixe at € 30,50. Starters include charcuterie, terrine, oysters and the like. We quite enjoyed the poussin for main, which was served with a great rhubarb compote. Other options include sweetbread, hanger steak, catfish and a vegetarian strudel. And for dessert there’s cheese, ice cream, pecan pie or coffee with bonbons. The style is very traditional French with few surprises and well executed.

hotel de goudfazant amsterdam - barhotel de goudfazant amsterdam - poussinhotel de goudfazant amsterdam - wine list

While the setting is ultra hip, Hotel De Goudfazant did strike us as a friendly place. Service was casual but attentive and nice. The guests were mixed including couples, families and some larger groups. The vibe is very busy and the noise level quite high due to the high, bare ceilings and large, packed dining room. We had to wait for a few minutes even though we had a reservation but quite enjoyed hanging out at the bar and checking out the cool space.

We’ll definitely be back to enjoy the eclectic mix of steel beams and goose terrine!
Aambeeldstraat 10 H
1021 KB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 6365170
Public transport: Bus 32 or 33 from Central Station to Johan van Hasseltweg

Best Amsterdam Restaurants Closed For Vacation

My list of Best Amsterdam Restaurants is quite popular and I regularly get questions and feedback. Over the last couple of weeks the feedback has been that all best restaurants are closed around late July / early August. And not surprisingly the questions are about where to go instead?

And indeed it looks like most of Amsterdam, including my favorite food destinations are headed to the beach.

  • Balthazar’s Keuken is closed until 17 August
  • De Witte Uyl will be on vacation from 25 July to 18 August
  • Marius is closed for renovations – not sure when it will reopen

The fourth restaurant on the list, De Kas, has been slacking as of late. It’s still a brilliant setting, but food has been less than great, and to be on the list, you have to have it all.

So time for some alternatives. And luckily there are three restaurants that are similar in style and that I have enjoyed very much on several occasions. In general, they are more intimate in style and more innovative in cuisine than the Michelin star restaurants in Amsterdam. And they have great food and friendly, knowledgeable service.

  • Blauw aan de Wal: fixed price menu, fusion cuisine, in the middle of the red light district, great service with character.
  • Hotel de Goudfazant: not a hotel at all, but a very hip industrial restaurant, French menu, in Amsterdam Noord reachable only by ferry.
  • Fyra: slightly more formal but very friendly, with a Dutch / French / International menu.

Sorry about being brief. I am considering to add these restaurants to the list of Best Amsterdam Restaurants and will then have a longer writeup. In the meantime, please ask or provide feedback in the comments if you have been there or intend to go.

Aside from closed restaurants and bike repair shops, the summer has been great. Hope the sun stays around for a bit more!

balthazar's keuken closed for vacation

Blauw aan de Wal – Great Food, Amsterdam Style

The red light district is certainly one of the main attractions of Amsterdam. It would appear just as certain that it’s the neighborhood to avoid when looking for great food. And that’s the charm of Blauw aan de Wal – amazingly good food and friendly service in the least likely yet most characteristic part of Amsterdam.

Blauw aan de Wal is indeed located right in the heart of the most sinful part of the city. And you will be surprised just how pretty and quaint it is when you finally find Blauw, just across the canal from Casa Rosso and through a graffiti plastered alleyway. The building is centuries old, located behind a tranquil courtyard that makes a great terrace in the summer, and split into a more rugged lower part with bare brick walls and a more modern upstairs dominated by a modern, white chic.

blauw aan de wal amsterdam - red light districtblauw aan de wal amsterdam - upstairs dining room

What we liked best of a great evening was the fantastic service: Highly attentive, extremely knowledgeable, with a good dose of humor and the attitude of a passionate foodie. The tone was set perfectly right from the start when we were asked whether “we had had a chance to inform them about our presence in advance” and were promptly offered an aperitif wine with the “freshness of a glass of Schweppes”. The staff, including owner Bert, magnificently anticipated our every need, be it taking orders, refilling our wine glasses or answering random questions of curious foodies. They knew everything about every dish and wine, took the time to explain all details, and were not afraid to make unusual suggestions. And best of all, the staff seemed to have as great time as the guests!

The formula at Blauw aan de Wal is a three-course choice menu for € 55,=. There’s usually a choice of three starters, two mains and two desserts. The cuisine is an interesting mix of Mediterranean and Asian with a touch of Dutch. The wine list is dominated by French and German wines, including some unusual grapes and smaller, organic vineyards.

blauw aan de wal amsterdam - three course menublauw aan de wal amsterdam - vitello tonato

We absolutely loved our food, starting off with what Bert described as Blauw’s own interpretation of Vitello Tonnato – veal rolled up with sashimi grade tuna and just a bit of tarragon flavored mayonnaise. The mackerel tartar was great, too.

For mains we went with lamb in an herb crust with sweetbread that was very well executed. The lamb was tender and intense. The crust provided freshness and texture. And the sweetbread a prefect, succulent balance. The other main, halibut, was also very good. Blauw aan de Wal tries to provide options, but might not be an easy choice for vegetarians and pescetarians.

The dessert choices were flan with candied fruit and chocolate mousse with amarena cherries. The coffee was good and the free of charge sip of sweet red dessert wine was a nice touch.

blauw aan de wal amsterdam - lamb and sweetbreadblauw aan de wal amsterdam - flan with candied fruit

Overall, dinner was excellent. The location is a unique blend of Amsterdam’s insidious and picturesque sides. The food is very well executed and interesting while maintaining a welcome simplicity. And most notably, the service is stellar, which unfortunately is still unusual in Amsterdam.

The only downside of Blauw aan de Wal is a web site that has been “under construction” for quite a while. It would be nice to know the menu in advance and be able to make reservations on line. But for, don’t be deterred, and just give them a call and they’ll certainly be happy to help.

Blauw aan de Wal
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 99
1012 DD Amsterdam
Tel: +31-20-3302257
Open Tuesday – Saturday 18:00 to 23:30
Trams 4, 9, 16, 24 and 25 to Dam. Or walk from Central Station.