Sunday, 24 March 2013

Eating in Amsterdam - Restaurant Guide

the recently opened new wing of the Stedelijk museum
Last weekend Mrs G and I visited friends in Amsterdam who’ve recently had a baby. When Mrs G wasn’t cwtching the rugrat, we managed to explore Amsterdam’s food offerings.

Sebastian’s Hotel

We stayed in the brilliantly located Sebastian’s which is a short walk from the central station, the trendy Jordaan district and the bustling Haarlemmerstraat. Our room (£104 a night) was clean, stylish, the size of a shoebox and had a good view of the canal.

Address - Sebastian's Hotel, Keizersgracht 15, 1015 CC Amsterdam

De Belhamel

On the first night we visited De Belhamel, a Dutch influenced French restaurant located a couple of minutes walk from the hotel. The restaurant’s art nouveau interior was stunning and the food was mostly very good.

Whist my starter, a vol au vent filled with a meaty ragout of lamb sweetbreads (€9), was an enjoyable bit of comfort food, it tasted a little too similar to a Pukka chicken pie. Mrs G in contrast loved her old skool terrine of duck liver and breast with red port aspic (15)

Mains were both excellent. Unctuous confit duck (€23.50) was served with sauerkraut flecked mash and mustard sauce. Both the sauce and the vinegary cabbage punctured the richness of the meat. A tender sirloin steak (€24.50) was served with buttery spinach, potatoes and a cracking cognac and tarragon sauce

Mrs G’s selection of Dutch cheeses (€12.50) was decent but ultimately let down by a lack of variety. Profiteroles (€9.50) stuffed with ice cream and slathered in hot chocolate sauce were amaze-balls. 

Address – Restaurant De Belhamel, Brouwersgracht 60, 1013 GX  Amsterdam

Kantjil & de Tijger

Despite our friends warning us about the quality of Amsterdam’s Indonesian restaurants, I was intent on sampling the food of the former Dutch colony.

The food at Kantjil and de Tijger, located in close proximity to Spui Square, was enjoyable but unremarkable.

We ordered a rijstafel (€25 ahead) – a traditional way of sampling a load of small dishes. Disappointingly, the namesake of the meal, the rice, was a run of the mill bowl of the long grain variety.

Highlights included some excellent chicken (sate ajam) and pork satay (sate babi) served in an almost black sauce containing Indonesian sweet soy sauce, palm sugar and peanut paste among other things. Eggs in a spicy coconut sauce (sambal goreng telor) and chicken in a sweet soy and peanut sauce (ajam pangang ketjap pedis) were also good. However the meat in a beef rendang was too chewy and a warm salad of green beans, bean sprouts, cabbage coated in satay sauce (gado gado) was one peanut too far.

Address - Kantjil & de Tijger, Spuistraat 291-293, 1012 VS Amsterdam

De Blauwe Hollander

I was really keen to sample the Dutch speciality stamppot – a hotchpotch of mashed potatoes and vegetables served with meat and gravy. A hasty googling led us to De Blauwe Hollander, located on the tourist restaurant packed Leidsekruisstraat.

Apart from a flavourless bowl of pumpkin soup (4.75) and the inexcusable fact they don’t serve tap water, it was very good.

A plate of bitterballen (€4.50), served with an unnecessary bowl of mustard, were immensely moreish. The deep fried balls were filled with a beef studded meaty bechamel, a bit like a Dutch cousin to the Spanish croquetta. 

My stamppot (12.75) was of the sauerkraut variety and was served with a smoked Mattesson’s u-bend style rookworst, crisy bacon pieces and thick gravy.

A dessert of poffertjes (small pancakes) served with icing sugar, a knob of butter and smooth vanilla ice cream (5.75) was the ideal companion to the freezing March weather.

Address - Restaurant De Blauwe Hollander, Leidsekruisstraat 28, 1017 RJ Amsterdam

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