Category Archives: Dutch food

Where to find Amsterdamned good…Dutch ‘eetcafé’

For this week’s restaurant recommendations I’ve been going through my business cards of Dutch style restaurants, called ‘eetcafé’ (eating cafe) by the locals. These are probably the most commonly known type of restaurants one can find in The Netherlands.

Eetcafés are quite literally what the name suggests: it looks like a pub/casual restaurant where one can have lunch and dinner, and some will, from around 11PM, remove tables so that it becomes only a bar. However more and more are popping up that are just proper restaurants – and with that, overall food quality goes up.

The food can be classified as Dutch fusion – often you’ll find dishes like Dutch style satay or steak with fries and salad alongside some pasta and/or fish. It’s always casual, never overpriced and one can always find a very diverse range of guests – young, old, rockers, business people, students…they’ll all visit an eetcafé once in a while. So, it’s quite a place to discover the Dutch!

Amsterdam of course has countless options for you to sample, so today I’ll help you making your choice a little easier by naming my current top – 5.

1. Kop van Jut
Leidsekruisstraat 24
website

It’s Dutch from head to toe in this little restaurant! Near Leidseplein, it’s our favourite to bring guests from abroad who need a crash course in Dutchness, or just with friends for a nice eetcafe meal. The restaurant is full of little Dutch decorations from the Royal family to footballers, the satay and fries are wonderful (so is the rest of their menu – simple yet very acceptable). Don’t forget to order a coffee ‘Kop van Jut’ after your meal, which comes with a typical Amsterdam liquer and stroopwafel (syrup waffle).

2. De Fles
Vijzelstraat 137
website

Look down! This restaurant is actually in the basement so no peeking in through the windows here. However, trust me – it’s worth a try. The decor has been taken from the inside from a ship, and they did a good job of making it pretty cosy. Food prices are just a little on the high end of what one can expect at an eetcafé (20 euros for a main) but it’s worth it. I especially enjoyed their tuna steak the last time, friends recommend the salads.

3. Restaurant Dubbel
Lijnbaansgracht 256
website

Another option which is just steps away from Leidseplein, unlike Kop van Jut, this is a place where I’d go to we’d have a group to entertain. Not the most exciting in terms of looks, but good service, all usual suspects can be found on their menu (and one of few who usually offer mussels, a Hungryhelen favourite meal), and all at a more than reasonable price.

4. Van Kerkwijk
Nes 41
no website, map and Dutch reviews here

Close to Dam Square, this place is quite often packed at weekends, which is not a surprise. Here, your waiter will join you at your table to go through the menu of the day, and the menu is great every time we’re there. It’s not possible to reserve a table here, so just walk in and have a drink or two until it’s your turn – I never mind having some pre-dinner conversations with fellow hungry guests.

5. Eetcafé Van Beeren
Koningsstraat 54
no website – map and Dutch reviews here

Just off Nieuwmarkt square this eetcafé can be found. Can’t remember how many times I’ve been here for whatever reason, but food is always good, atmosphere good, house wines are nice…all very relaxing. Their – daily -very cheap – special usually sells out before I can even try ordering it.

Fishy Volendam

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During a dinner last week, for some reason (after a couple of white wines) we got the idea to make a little trip up to Volendam, primarily to get dressed up in traditional Dutch costumes – in which especially yours truly looks hilarious, being quite obviously not of Dutch descent…

Volendam is a little town just north of Amsterdam, famous for its picturesque looking old Dutch houses on a dyke, the fact that all people seem to have just one of 10 different surnames (anyone said inbreed? Shhhhhhh ;-)), many Dutch singers come from this place whose music is sometimes called ‘palingsound'(eelsound). This is because most importantly, Volendam is known for its fish.

Warning: extremely cheesy tune ahead

When we arrived, the first thing we did was getting our picture taken. Now as this is a public blog, I’m not going as far as revealing how incredibly ridiculous our group looks as old Dutch farmers. You’ll have to do with this lady, who kindly gave her permission to be shown here:DSC02696

Once this was out of the way, we could go and do what everyone does in Volendam: eat fish. Loads of it.

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The location we chose for our fish was a little shop on the dyke – long tourist and locals queueing up won us over.
As we just couldn’t choose (and this blog needs to be filled with all relevant dishes), we went for all the local favourites:

Broodje paling (smoked eel bun)
The absolute Volendam speciality, the poor things just don’t get a life here as tonnes of eel gets eaten around this place. And at high speed, as before I could get my camera out, it had vanished. Use this link instead.

HaringDSC02716
The original Dutch sushi, herring is traditionally eaten raw with onions and optional pickle. Love it or loathe it – I must admit that I kind of like the buttery texture of this fish. However, be careful – this combination leaves you with a very foul breath. Unless you enjoy being turned down, have some mints at hand.

Kibbeling
This is a fried cod snack, very similar to the English style battered fish. The only real difference is that kibbeling used to be leftover fish which people would fry up, and to this day it’s always served as bite sized chunks.DSC02714

The verdict: well worth a short stopover!

The rock ‘n’ roll diet – try some festival food!

What do music, beer, tents, portable toilets, large fields and junk food have in common? Festivals!
Each year, I suddenly forget the fact that I detest camping with a passion and get tickets for at least one of the European rock festivals. Peace, love and rock ‘n’ roll, right? Well no, leave out peace and love, 21st century festies are all about junk food, beer and rock ‘n’ roll. Three guesses what’s on todays’ blog menu?
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Last weekend, we were at the Pinkpop festival in the south of The Netherlands. As festival food can be just as entertaining as the bands on display, we went on a grand tour of festival food stands to taste to give you an idea of what you’ve missed (or perhaps not)…IMAGE_373

Saturday, 12 PM:
Arrive at the festival. Tent’s up, looking for lunch. Check food stalls on the way…hamburger type bun with stuff that staff would like to sell as gyros gets picked. Was lukewarm, tasted like anything but gyros, but no instant diarrhea. Bonus.

IMAGE_3742:30 PM:
After much walking between car and tent, time to get ready for the main event. Fuel: German bratwurst. What a shame, this one lacked spices. Guess the guy of the stall figured that if 2/3 of his weekend clientele would be drunk anyway.

 

6:00 PM:
In need of refueling after the hilarious performance of the all star punk rock (cover)band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Watch it here, from 10″50 – if you like the genre, that is 😉.
IMAGE_375Decide to head left of the main stage for dinner. Hamburgers, chips, shoarma, spring rolls…fresh oysters? In the 10+ years I’ve been visiting festivals, I’ve never come across something like a festival oyster bar. Which also made me think – this cannot be right, surely this is to guarantee having to do things you don’t want to do in a portable toilet? Skipped and had a selection of canteen quality pasta and vegetables. Cost 12 euros, but probably the healthiest meal I’ve ever had at an event.

7:30 PM:IMAGE_377
We don’t drink an awful lot like some of the (not necessarily younger) festival crowd. However, being outside all day and having the odd beverage makes you hungry, so we decided to tuck into a typical Dutch snack – poffertjes (pov-er-chus). Best described as mini pancakes with a soft center, they’re enjoyed with loads of powdered sugar and butter. That’s because otherwise there’s no taste to it whatsoever. Finished our portion just on time for Bruce Springsteen.

12:30 AM:
Back in tent, once again craving for snacks. Took a mini snack salami, then sleep.

                                   Sunday, 10:00 ADSC02607M:
Wake up to find someone left some ladies’ underwear next to our tent. OK. Time to eat…wow, there’s so much grease on offer at the campsite stalls that it’s hard to choose. The only healthy options are yoghurt bowls and fruit juice, both costing around 6 euros a go. Now we’re not prepared to pay high class prices for low quality versions of fruit breakfasts, so we had some dodgy looking savoury pancakes – filled with bacon and enough cheese to hide the actual pancake flavour.

 
1:00 PM:
Old ska heroes Madness are up later in the afternoon, this means we need a hearty lunch: braadworst. The Dutch version of bratwurst, served in a bun with onion, mayonaise and ketchup. Yes, sausage again. Pinkpop seems to have sausage vendors scattered around all over the place. Not that I mind, and as an added bonus, this was the first snack that exceeded our expectations. Bravo!

7:00 PM:IMAGE_381
Wandering around the festival grounds we find many empty plates of everything from pizza slices to fried chicken. However, we’re feeling exotic and opt for a fusion ‘Indian stir fry’ with Turkish bread and enough garlic sauce to ensure a completely non-Indian taste. What it did taste like? Pre-seasoned frozen vegetables mixed with chicken and bamboo shoots. With sauce. For 8 euros. If this is the level required for serving food at events, I will stock up and start my own food cart next year.

IMAGE_3827:20 PM:
Not only was this meal dissappointing in taste, it was also a remarkably small amount we got served. Need some more food. We agreed to have some mini Vietnamese spring rolls. Spring rolls are so popular in The Netherlands one may almost call it a Dutch snack. We were pleasantly surprised that it was actually quite nice – bite sized, nice slightly tangy sauce, no need to squeeze out frying oil before consuming. Amazing, a second OK snack on one day! After the bands, went on to celecrate with friends at the campsite after party.

Monday, 10:00 AM:
Avoid pancakes. Spotted fried eggs on bread with bacon and cheese, had this. Good enough to give us energy until we get our first drinks of the day.

1 PM:
We couldn’t find any short queues for getting food/drink tickets, so needed something cheap for lunch. We hadn’t had any french fries yet this weekend, so here goes! Splash on a truckload of mayo, sit down on the grass to enjoy whilst listening to a Belgian singer called Novastar and watch people voluntarily getting themselves sunburnt.

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3 PM:
It’s really a wonderful sunny day today, and on sunny days we all need to have ice creams. We took ours to the crowd to enjoy during the set of a Canadian punk band. Felt quite rebellious standing there innocently eating up the cone.

7 PM:DSC02683
Have overpriced but slightly healthy dinner again at the oyster bar. Same selection of veggies, meat  and some lasagna. However, clouds break seconds after I took the picture, and I can tell you that it takes a lot better food to be able to hold its taste when coming in contact with rain.

10:30 PM:
Last act of the festival on stage, but stomach not satisfied. With one food ticket left, I treated myself to the Dutchiest of all snacks, the kroket. This gooey meat snack with breaded crust is a favourite amongst the Dutch and many tourists, and always works as a quick comfort fix. As I finish my kroket, the festival comes to an end. Time to pack up and go back to proper food world!

To leave you with a little bit of that festival feeling, here’s a clip of the Madness performance: