Category Archives: Reviews

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.

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Where to find Amsterdamned good…Italian food

There aren’t many travelers who don’t like a nice Italian meal. A tourist trap favourite cuisine to offer, Italian restaurants are in almost every western town and vary heavily in quality. Amsterdam’s no exception – there are around 250 Italian restaurants excluding take away/delivery counters in this village alone (with just over 756,000 inhabitants, it’s tiny compared to most world capitals *random Amsterdam trivia).

Annoyed by the quality of some restaurants, we decided to do some research to find the best places forra di pasta e pizza ina di towna. That’s just about the best Italian impression I can manage. Comments in Italian are welcome.

1. Incanto
Amstel 2
website

Situated on the second floor of a building overlooking the Muntplein/Flower Market area of the city, this gem is hardly noticable on the outside. Its relaxed modern interior, very pure offerings and extensive Italian wine list make it the spot for your special evening in Amsterdam. I particularly love their risotto as part of my meals there. Not suitable for those on a budget or only into casual dining, but worth every penny if you feel like splashing out a bit.

2. Mappa
Nes 59
website

Trendy eatery in the theatre street Nes close to Dam square. Very nice simple pasta dishes for a reasonable price. Great for winding down after a long day in town or just a nice casual dinner. I quite frequently take people out here, most recently including two Italian colleagues, who didn’t complain 😉 .Try their orange tiramisu as well (when available)!

3. Casa di David
Singel 426
website

Already a favourite amongst locals and tourists because of the good authentic tasting dishes on offer, Casa di David is a safe bet for a good Italian meal in the centre. One of the few real Italian restaurants that also do proper pizzas. However, food quality seems to have gone to the heads of staff a little as service can be dreadful. If you can stand being ignored from time to time or getting the ‘you should be glad to be here’ treatment when busy and concentrate on the food instead, you’ll have a good night out.

4. La Storia della Vita
Weteringschans 171
website

About 10 minutes walk from Leidseplein and just a few minutes away from the Heineken brewery is this family run restaurant, which is quite the experience (and wins the Hungryhelen award for prettiest name for a restaurant in town :-)). Listen to their Italian granddad sing and play the piano while having an a la carte or surprise meal (on weekends, they only offer a 3-6 course fish or meat menu from EUR 32,50). After a dinner with friends, mentioned granddad came up to our table with a cart full of after dinner drinks, and we all left with smiles. Also great for your date.

5. Gustavino
Gustav Mahlerplein 16
website

This one’s more for locals and business travelers, as Gustavino’s located in the Zuidas area of town just outside the Amsterdam Zuid train and subway station (the newly created business oriented district). Already well known amongst people working in the area, this is a nice place for business lunches and casual smart dinners. Following the typical Italian primi and secondi courses, they offer good quality pizzas, pastas and proper mains in a pretty trendy setting.

Ciao!

Rome 003

Where to have Amsterdamned good…Chinese food

Dear foodies, let me introduce to you the first edition of a recurring topic on this blog – Amsterdam restaurant recommendations.
During a drink with an old schoolfriend I was asked why I’ll blog about eating everywhere and in any situation – but not about my favourite eateries around town. My initial thought was ‘well why would people be interested in Amsterdam-only reviews?’ Until he confronted me with the fact that actually, Amsterdam is a popular tourist location. That’s right. Silly me.

2479815152_8c485dc03e(C) Copyright Amsterdam Tourist Guide

You’ll probably have guessed by now that I’ll be discussing the places to be for Chinese food today.
Amsterdam has the largest Chinatown in The Netherlands, adjacent to the (in)famous Red Light District. Grab a shag, grab a doggy bag…;-)
I find it particularly hard to find great Cantonese food outside of Hong Kong, so when I moved to the ‘dam one of the first things on my list was to actually find that great restaurant that doesn’t serve Dutch style rice and noodles only barely edible with piles of peanut sauce (watch out for places serving ‘bami’ or ‘nasi’, especially the special version). General rule: go for places where you can find local Chinese and don’t complain about service – it’s all about the food! Here you go:

1. Oriental City
Oudezijds Voorburgwal 177-179
website

The place to be for delicious dim sum lunches. This restaurant is a hit with the local Chinese community who’ll take their families out for their weekend get-togethers. Waiting time for tables of over half an hour’s no exception at weekends, but well worth it once you get your steamed treasures! Also serve decent Cantonese and Sichuan dinner courses.

2. Nam Kee
Geldersekade 117 and Zeedijk 111
website

Probably the most famous Chinese restaurant in The Netherlands, this place was used for a book/movie called ‘De Oesters van Nam Kee’ (The Oysters of Nam Kee). Also, this typical Chinese restaurant romantically lit by fluorecsent lamps is the only one who have their own cookbook out. No place for a first date or anniversary, find your good traditional dinners and wonderful noodles here. Do also try the famous oysters, steamed and served covered in black bean sauce. Mouthwatering good!

3. Taste of Culture
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 139
website

Not in Chinatown but in the Leidseplein area, this restaurant serving a selection of ‘regional Chinese dishes’ is regarded as one of the new gems in town. Several well known Dutch restaurant reviewers gave this place their thumbs up, so find a mix of Chinese and curious Dutch. Unfortunately, this means that their menu does contain some Dutch-friendly dishes, so check that you’re getting actual traditional dishes if you’re not at home in Chinese cuisine. Tip: try the claypot dishes.

Remember, Chinese food is to be shared – unless you go for a fusion restaurant, don’t think you can just order a main course per person. You’ll be dissappointed and feeling bloated for at least a week after 😉