Authentic, great recs for Amsterdam, Brussels and Brugge?
It's been awhile, but I'm heading for Amsterdam and Brussels at the end of the month (a week, starting June 19th.)
We'll be hitting Amsterdam, Brussels and Brugge (about 2 days each.), and I REALLY NEED good recommendations for places to go, and specific foods to try.
Now, I'm mostly a street food kinda gal...fancy restaurants don't really do it for me. Most important thing to me is authentic and tasty. (Though I will consider restaurants too.)
Any recommendations (for food and vendors) would be GREATLY appreciated...! (Hey, let me know and I can at least reciprocate with NYC recs...)
--Gaijin Girl (Janet)
In Amsterdam you must go to "The Pancake Bakery"! The best pancakes I've ever had, with a nice view of a canal. Pretty cool place, try to get a spot on the second floor by the big open window. It's conveniently located close to the Ann Frank House, on:
1015 DS Amsterdam
And of course, don't forget to have the fries. I get mine from Manneken Pis, right on Damrak 41 , a few minutes from Amsterdam Centraal.
GG, I'd really love to help, but I am completely flummoxed by the term 'authentic'. What are you looking for?
That said, I'll try to help with Brussels:
Street food is pretty much frites, gaufres/waffles (Liegeois), and maybe frikandel. I'd love to provide specific corners for the best, but some involve hefty travel and I fear others have gone downhill. Still, sampling around is good-- but don't put stuff on the waffle, especially if you're going for the Liegeois. I don't understand what's been going on recently. There are vans about that can do a lovely job.
There is a very large frites place near the Bourse-- not bad, and offers a place to sit if you're tired. And I rather enjoy Blvd Anspach so nice to take a look around there.
Also: on Blvd Anspach, there's a sandwich place called 'Au Suisse' which has been around for ages-- decades and the like. Have a crevettes grises sandwich. Indeed, don't leave this overall area without enjoying the grey shrimp that come only from a small part of the North Sea. Very flavourful. Other traditional preparations involve their being stuffed in a tomato or fried in croquettes with cheese.
Also, have a wander around Place St Catherine, which is quite beautiful and has some food on offer (although perhaps wine/oysters as 'street food' might come as a shock to you). Nice shops in the area as well.
And if you're peckish and don't want to spend much money, stop in a cafe for a beer and a mixte-- a plate of cheese and meat cut into cubes, served with mustard or celery salt. Not terribly expensive and certainly aids the appetite and gives you something to go along with the lovely beer.
Hey, all - thanks for the input thus far! (Less than one week to go for the trip.)
Re: the term authentic. Well, not 100% sure myself. What I really mean is that I love street food (and some restaurant food) and always try to locate anything cuisine that's unique to the area I'm traveling in. Have Googled Dutch and Belgian cuisine a bit over the last month, and have identifed a few things that I'll be looking for (let me know if I'm offbase or missing anything great?) And if there's any place that makes it "best"?
Waffles (both Luege and Brussels varieties)
Frites (of course)
Chocolates (of course)
Beer (my husband and friend are both homebrewers who like the best)
Stoemp mashed potatoes
Rabbit in geuze??
Stoof Karbonaden (beef stew?)
Chicons au gratin (cheese and bechamel sauce?)
Bitterballen (deep fried meat balls)
I would recommend you check the former posts for recommendations on specific places. There have been some very nice ones recently and are worth reading for the tips you want now. (You may be able to get some of what you seek-- traditional food and good beer-- at Falstaff, but really? Good beer is everywhere, or so it seems.)
Bear in mind that mussels, while available courtesy of economic globalisation, are out of season in June. Carbonade (yes, beef stew often cooked with beer and prunes) might be available but is kind of heavy for summer.
Also, if you are keen on a traditional dish, go for filet americain or at least a toast cannibale.
Hi Gaijin Girl,
here are a few thoughts on street food in Amsterdam. I focused exclusively on street vendors. Good restaurants for a quick snack are the Thai Bird snack bar on Zeedijk and Small World Catering organic sandwiches on Binnen Oranjestraat.
Street food to try:
French fries: Best ones are made by Vleminckx on Voetboogstraat. Sold from a small window, large line of people waiting, served in cone with many sorts of sauces, prepared fresh on the spot - you can see potato peeling
Noordermarkt: Farmer's market every Saturday morning around the Noorderkerk. Lots of great food and snacks.
Bitterballen: Mix of meat and potato mash, breaded and deep fried, served with mustard, great snack with beer, served in most bars, good ones at Gent aan de Schinkel and Herengracht
Herring: Often recommended as a typical Dutch street food, but not everybody's liking. Problem is that they are only good if they are extremely fresh and of great quality, which is hard to find.
Falafel: Available on every corner, usually ok, but never great in my opinion. I had much better falafel in Paris.
Street food to avoid:
FEBO: Deep fried snacks in vending machines. Great photo opportunity. Cheap. Bad quality.
Shoarma: Rotisserie meat in pita bread. Found everywhere, especially in tourist areas. Snack bar quality at best, gross at worst. Very fatty, too much sauce, dry bread.
Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more specific questions!
An excellent summary on Amsterdam street food! I’d like to add a few comments and add a few things that were probably not an option back in June, but will become increasingly available as winter approaches…
I’ll second Vleminckx. A few notes about eating frites in the NL. First, they are practically unsalted compared to how they are prepared in the US (which may be disappointing to the American palette). Second, frites saus is much better than most US mayonnaise in the US, and the ketchup available at most places can be pretty gross compared to US ketchup / Heinz.
I see that in a later post, GG referred to these as “deep fried meat balls”. For clarification, Dutch meatballs (gehaktballen) are something else entirely. Bitterballen could be better described as “deep fried balls filled with meat glue”. Correction: *delicious* meat glue.
If you must, your safest best may be the kaassoufflé. It very vaguely resembles a toasted raviolo.
Thick syrup sandwiched between two thin waffles. There is a guy at Albert Cuyp market who makes these fresh. Strangely enough, I prefer the (cheaper) varieties available at Albert Heijn. Keep an eye out for stroopkoeken as well – different from the waffles, but equally good.
Little pancakes served with a slab of butter and a blizzard of powdered sugar. When eating, keep a safe distance between yourself and the poffertjes, be aware of changes in wind direction, and don’t make any sudden movements. It is very easy to commit sugarcide and walk away covered in clouds of white.
Often called “Dutch donuts”, but they are more like donut holes on steroids. Available in different varieties such as plain, raisin, with powdered sugar. If you choose powdered sugar (which you should), follow the same eating warnings as with the poffertjes.