Next-gen restaurants that Amsterdam’s chefs can’t get enough of
There’s a new movement happening in Amsterdam’s foodie scene, with tonnes of creative chefs and eateries bringing some truly unique things to the table. Read on for some innovative restaurants that are the talk of the town.
Pioneering Amsterdam restaurants like As, De Kas and BAK were doing pretty things with produce and having fun with fermentation long before it became mainstream.
At BAK, chef Benny Blisto’s “way to a better world” sees organic vegetables star on a set seasonal menu, with wild-caught game meat and fish playing a supporting role. The chef’s favourite restaurant in Amsterdam is Gebr. Hartering, where you’ll find “very high-quality food served in a simple and honest way.’ He satisfies his cravings for good burgers, rum-oreo milkshakes and mezcal shots at Rotisserie East and regularly waits in line for the ‘best döner in town with all kinds of people, from construction workers to businessmen and police officers” at Beste Döner.
New Asian in Amsterdam
New Asian eateries that combine Oriental flavours with modern presentation and Dutch design flair are blossoming like so many lotus flowers, as well-travelled local chefs bring back ideas from abroad. “Unfortunately, not everyone gets it right,” argues Javanese chef Agus Hermawan of posh Ron Gastrobar Indonesia, where East impeccably meets West. “While ingredients such as lemongrass and lime leaf are increasingly used to add an Asian twist to Western dishes, the traditional flavour is often absent,” says the veteran of Indonesian mainstays such as Blauw and Blue Pepper. Perhaps that’s why Hermawan’s guilty pleasure is homemade bakmi from Aries Noodles with “the authentic taste of old Jakarta.” His favourite food shop is family-run Patisserie Linnick, where you’ll find “beautiful bonbons, cakes and tarts with unique flavours and creative combinations.” Restaurant Beulings is the city’s “most underrated restaurant,” according to Hermawan, a “hidden gem, tucked away down an alley in the centre, with a homely atmosphere and Michelin-star level food and wine.”
Big on meat
Amsterdam’s next-gen meat restaurants take their protein seriously. At The Roast Room there’s an in-house butchery with dry-ageing cabinets, as well as a charcoal grill and rotisserie. And no doubt the Ole Hickory pit at Pendergast Smokehouse plays a big part in producing what’s hands-down the best brisket in town. Authenticity’s crucial too, says Kansas-born pitmaster Brandon Woodruff, who is just trying to do something small and high quality, with roots in where I’m from.’ When he’s not busy barbequing, Woodruff enjoys brunch at Buffet van Odette, where he praises the fluffy scrambled eggs with truffle cheese, grapefruit brûlée with maple syrup, well-made coffees, ‘and bubbles to get your brunch moving in the right direction’. He also urges everyone to “please eat Ghanese food at underrated Gold Coast Kitchen: Don’t miss the jollof rice or the spicy, soul-satisfying soup” made with smoked mackerel, beef broth and fufu.
Amsterdam’s Hotel darlings
From Michelin marvels like Librije’s Zusje at Waldorf Astoria to more accessible options such as Lotti’s at The Hoxton and 5&33 at art’otel, Amsterdam’s hotel restaurants are enjoying a new-found appeal with locals. With amenities like lounges, libraries, art galleries and fireplaces, many hotels feel like a more luxurious home away from home in cramped Amsterdam, where you can meet people from all around the world, explains Nadia Frisina of Mediterranean influenced 5&33. For “happiness slice by slice’ the pizza-loving Italian chef tips La Fucina, a little shop where ‘they use Italian family recipes to make authentic pizza dough and top it with good, natural ingredients.” For lunch, she “likes to escape to Maza at Foodhallen for healthy Mediterranean salads, hummus and olives.”
Thank the financial crisis for helping to inject the Dutch restaurant scene with a wave of low-key bistronomie-style restaurants, where classically trained chefs take the best of French cuisine and update it with global influences. At Kaagman & Kortekaas, the creative menu changes regularly, but there’s always a harmonious medley of surprising ingredients and traditional techniques. ‘The era of the stuffy restaurant is over’, says chef-owner Merijn van Berlo of Choux, a casual restaurant “for people who want food that someone spent a lot of time and effort on, for the smallest possible price.” Café Modern, Van Berlo’s pick for most underrated restaurant is a little out of the way in Amsterdam Noord, but follows the same vein for its “atmosphere, nice people and reasonably priced menu with interesting ingredients”. He wishes he’d opened Vuurtoreneiland (situated on an island in the IJmeer), because of its location on an island in the IJmeer, and “its authentic feel which is perfect for every occasion.” From the trip there by boat to sitting outside, it’s “a culinary mecca, by Dutch standards.”
Text: Karin Engelbrecht for A-Mag Amsterdam Magazine March-April 2017