Amsterdam May 2007 reviews
Just got back from a week in Amsterdam and ate at the following places:
Snackbird Thai restaurant (Center): fairly reliable Thai. Went here a couple of times and got the basil chicken (good), green curry tofu (good), vegetable fried rice (good), and noodles in beef soup (this either was pho or very similar to it. I'm not a fan of pho so I didn't like this too much). Not as good as, say, Wondee Siam in NYC, but definitely good. Entrees (except for fancy meat dishes) tend to be in the 8-10 euro range.
Warung Spang Makanda (Pijp): I got a great vegetarian dish here, the Veg. Roti Speciaal. It came with a roti, curried potatoes, diced tempeh (I think it was tempeh, anyway), hollow green beans, and bok choy. I think it was around 8 euro or something, and totally delicious. Oh, and the vegetarian saoto soup was really good too. My boyfriend got some kind of sampler of chicken, nasi goreng, mee goreng, and vegetables that was totally upstaged by the food I ordered.
Van Dobben (Rembrandtsplein): The krokets are amazing!! They're 2.25 euro each and come on a buttered roll (to which you can and should add mustard). They basically taste like pot pie filling with a superbly rendered crispy crust (doesn't feel super greasy or anything). Also tried the tomatensoup which you can avoid. Didn't know what anything else on the menu was.
De Kas (outside city center): This was my second visit, and it was pretty good, but I don't know that I'd go back again. It's good, but definitely expensive (our total bill came to 162 euro), and I can't say it was otherworldly or even particularly exceptional. I'm a huge fan of Blue Hill (at Stone Barns) in New York, so in theory De Kas has always appealed to me. The setting is very nice, and this time we had a drink in the garden before dinner. It was just the right time of day, and the light was perfect -- I definitely recommend getting a drink out there beforehand if the weather is nice. Their snacking olives are really good. As appetizers, they served a zucchini lasagna, asparagus two ways (fried and w/ hollandaise foam, and in a salad), and halibut (I think it was halibut anyway; I'm bad with identifying fish) w/ fresh herbs and an olive tapenade. All were pretty good but not outstanding. I opted for a fish entree, which was prepared well and came with delicately seasoned potatoes. My boyfriend got the lamb, which he said was delicious. We got the optional cheese plate, which was served with raisin bread and pretty good. Dessert was strawberry sorbet (w/ fresh strawberries) and panna cotta w/ lemon curds. Again, very edible but nothing to gloat about.
Japanese Pancake House (Jordaan): I concur with the reviews on this board that say this place is excellent. Had the Osaka okonomiyaki with marinated beef, and a Hiroshima pancake with courgettes. Both were delicious and not overly doused w/ sauce or mayo (which I tend to find).
Green Planet (Spuistraat): I'd been to this vegetarian restaurant on a previous visit and loved it. This time, I have to say I was a bit disappointed, although I still love the laid-back atmosphere and general concept of the restaurant. There are only a few staple dinners, and most of them sound pretty boring. Every night they have a special entree for 10.90 euro which includes a salad, but they were out of that night's special when I got there (it had been Gnocchi Bolognese). So, I resorted to one of the staples, a Coconut vegetable curry, and it was fairly bland and definitely overpriced at around 16 euro. My boyfriend got the lasagna, and that was pretty good.
Pasta di Mamma (Museumplein): This Italian sandwich chain got good reviews in a Netherlands restaurant guide (similar to Zagats), so I thought I'd give it a try. Nothing special, although the sandwiches (one caprese, one salami & peppers) were perfectly edible.
Noordermarkt organic market (on Saturday): I loved this market. All of the stalls looked delicious. Of particular note, there was a vegetarian pate stall that was my favorite. I got the vegan spicy mushroom pate, and it was excellent.
Nieuwmarkt organic market (on Saturday): We were staying in this area and so got a chance to check this market out as well. It wasn't as fun as the Noordermarkt, but still pretty good for cheese, bread, and vegetables and fruits.
Albert Cuyp Market: The two times I've been to Amsterdam, I've visited this market and been wholly disappointed. Maybe I'm missing something, but most of the stalls seemed to be selling cheap clothing, perfume, housewares, and the like. The few food stalls that were there weren't particularly interesting. Maybe it depends on the day that you go? I went on a Tuesday, so maybe the weekend is better?
Albertcuypmarkt is MUCH better on a weekend - the best cheese stall is only there from Wednesday to Saturday, and a lot of the best food sellers - certainly the few "real" farmers - are only there on a weekend. At the beginning of the week, many of those spaces are filled with sellers of crap clothing (I don't mean second-hand, which can be fun - I've found lovely things at the stall at the beginnning of hte market near where the tram sstops - but some kind of low-priced crap churned out only for markets. Many of those disappear when the real food takes over.
Don't miss Bakken met Passie, (Baking with Passion) an excellent bread bakery near the no. 16 tram stop that heads to Museumplein. Good crusty bread, foccaccia etc.
But I do prefer Noordermarkt, in Jordaan - lovely food - great cheeses, veg pâtés, and unusual for Amsterdam, excellent breads.
The weekend caveat applies even more to Dappermarkt in the east end. That is a very multicultural, lively market in a working-class immigrant area now gentrifying to some extent. But vendors hawk mountains of shite early in the week.
Near Dappermarkt, the Tropenmuseum (museum of tropical countries and habitats, formerly one of those "colonial museums") has a very good café with a multi-culti menu.
For your next visit... How about Pygma-Lion, on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat? It's a South African cafe offering African game (ostrich, springbok, etc), an unpretentious but very nice little spot. Mains are about €20.