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Amsterdam: A Great Dinner In A Room With Character...

I've posted extensively on CH for almost ten years now. I've eaten at numerous MIchelin starred restaurants in Europe over this time (30, 40, 50? More? I've travelled heavily in Europe on business for almost three decades). In several weeks my wife and I will have a week in Amsterdam which we have never been to. Yes, we want to have the best dinner that is available to us. But stars aside the real priority might be a memory. Not a three star, nor an elegant dinner but rather a restaurant with character, that makes a statement, that inspires a memory, that is...well...an adventure. Ideally, a restaurant where the chef, the owners are as passioante about food as we are. We, who would cross an ocean for a good meal. The Jeunes Restauranteurs seemed like a good lead but there are only a couple anywhere near the city.

In my research I have not found anything like this within, say, an hour's drive of the center of Amsterdam. What am I missing? Is there a great meal, a great dining EXPERIENCE that we should explore? Something that I cannot find at home (Washington, D. C.). A one of a kind that might force us to return next summer? Actually, something that might inspire me to write about it and want others to return with the hope of the same incredible experience that we had? Is there such a place? Truly interesting, truly memorable, hopefully unique?

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  1. Surprisingly, Febo almost meets some of your criteria (“something that might inspire me to write about it”, “truly interesting”, “inspires a memory”, “is...well...an adventure”)

    …but of course you are probably looking for something different!

    Sounds to me like De Kas (http://www.restaurantdekas.nl) may be the place for you. Excellent, fresh food, and you can also opt for the chef’s tasting menu. Also, I think that a converted greenhouse in a park qualifies as “a room with character”.

    Other resources you might check include Dutch Grub’s list of top Amsterdam restaurants (http://www.dutchgrub.com/2009/01/20/b...), which includes De Witte Uyl – a restaurant that from my experience had even better food than De Kas, plus a more intimate and friendly environment… but probably not as epic as what you seem to be looking for.

    -----
    Kas Restaurant De
    Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3 Amsterdam

    Wijn- en Spijslokaal "De Witte Uyl"
    Frans Halsstraat 26 Amsterdam

    10 Replies
    1. re: rastan

      Thank you, rastan, we've made a reservation at De Kas which looks perfect. In the mid '90's Seattle had a restaurant called The Herb Farm which literally was a gingerbread cottage like building in the middle of a herb farm. It was also enormously popular with a wait of almost a year for a table. Today, it has moved and lost much of its charm with a different location that is more of a luxurious Inn and less of the farm it once was. De Kas seems reminiscent of the original Herb Farm.

      1. re: Joe H

        I went to De Kas in June, the setting in the greenhouse was gorgeous but I have to say the food was underwhelming. Granted, it was good for Amsterdam, but overall I've definitely had better. Maybe I'm spoiled living in California and fresh grown produce is something to be expected. Hope you enjoy and please report back!

        1. re: BBB

          To be honest my expectations for Amsterdam are somewhat tempered. There are many other cities in Europe that I have been absolutely "stoked" to visit for food and/or a dining adventure. My expectations, thus far, of Amsterdam fall short of this. Perhaps, far short of this.

      2. re: rastan

        I am interested in this topic. We too will also be traveling to Amsterdam in a few weeks and are in search of 3 restaurants with similar criteria. I have made a reservation at De Kas as well. I am also thinking of Blauw aan de Wal. Would you recommend De Witte Uyl instead of Blauw aan de Wal. Also, I need a place for Sunday dinner. I was hoping for casual but delicious. Many thanks for any suggestions.

        1. re: rastan

          Rastan, can I ask a really stupid question? I've had great frites in Belgium-are there great frites in Amsterdam? I've never thought of Amsterdam as a source for this but given its proximity to, say, Brussels a great frites shop could be a real daytime find. (Or midnight, too!) If so where would you go?

          1. re: Joe H

            I've been trying to search guide books and the Internet for any reviews on Aan de Poel and I have not found anything. I am wondering how you found out about Aan de Poel.

            1. re: Nancy S.

              Michelin ( http://www.viamichelin.com/viamicheli... ) in combination with what they describe along with their "internet user options" which were uniformly excellent. Both of these stoked my interest which, in turn, led to Google searches and several other websites for their opinions about the same restaurants. Much of this, however, depends on the credibility of several of the reviews which I read. A couple of these I've used in the past and tended to agree with their value judgments.

              1. re: Nancy S.

                Michelin included it as one of their one stars for Amsterdam. This led me to google it and, in turn, more websites which discussed it. Perhaps unlike many on this board I've found Michelin one stars to be particularly good in the many experiences I've had with them. I also like a group called Jeunes Restauranteurs of Europe which are young, passionate chefs, often excellent. I say this because a lot of people seem to look down on Michelin starred restaurants. I actually have just had a different experience and have found them to often represent one of the best dinners I can have. Not always, but often enough that Michelin has enough credibility to warrant my own search about a particular restaurant.

              2. re: Joe H

                I would suggest you try Vleminckx on Voetboogstraat (alley near the Kalverstraat shopping street). They have great fries that many claim to be the best in town. Unfortunately, you can only go there during the day. Like most of the Kalverstraat area, I believe they close around 6pm.

          2. i've always enjoyed du lac, which i think is on haarlemerstraat, if memory serves

            1. We ate at De Witte Uyl last week and were disappointed. We wanted to like it and found the staff to be very helpful and friendly. The bratwurst with cumin was pretty good, but we found most of the food to be not very memorable. The glass of wine I tried, though organic, was not very good.

              On the other hand, we took a chance on Van Vlaanderen and thought it was the best meal we had all year, including the dinner at Jean Georges in NY in August. The chef only offers 2 first courses, 2 main courses and 2 dessert options. My husband and I orded one of each of the courses and found them all memorable. The restaurant is located in the museum district. On the night that we were there the main courses were wild duck and pollack. Though I usually don't find pollack to be a first choice fish to order at a restaurant, the whole of the dish was complex and delicious. Nice selection of single glasses of wine. The meal is a memory, but I am not sure an adventure. :-)

              2 Replies
              1. re: veggielover

                Thanks so much for reporting your experience. Where else did you dine in Amsterdam? It's so helpful to read up to date information. Thanks again.

                1. re: Nancy S.

                  We only were there 3 nights and the third night we ate Indonesian at Tempo DeLoe. I am glad that I tried Indonesian food and it was a nice change from European cuisine, but I probably will never go out of my way to eat it again.

              2. Joe--Have you been yet? I would love to know about your dining! Thanks

                12 Replies
                1. re: Nancy S.

                  We did not go. It's a long story but we made a value judgment about an Italian restaurant that we wanted to return to since our first visit was outstanding. The Saturday night return was a night and day difference. Our best experiences n Amsterdam were frites with mayo, sate and minced onions along with a cheese, Bleu de Wolvega that is the best I have ever had in my life. The latter we bought at an incredible cheese shop, De Kaaskamer Runstraat, which is considered by many to be the best in Amsterdam. I would actually suggest that the Bleu de Wolvega is one of the best "things" I have ever tasted in my life and well worth looking up. I even started a thread about it on the D. C. board to see if I can find it here and the answer is that, no, it is rare for even Holland. Truly a limited artisinal cheese. If you go to Amsterdam and like cheese this will be the highlight of your trip!

                  I was told by a friend "whose opinion I trust" that the two Michelin star was truly superb and worth the expense.h

                  1. re: Joe H

                    Thanks about the cheese recommendation. But I'm still curious as to where you had dinner. SInce you mentioned Aan de Poel, I have been seriously considering it. The menu looks great. Did you go to De Kas? I'm so eager to hear!

                      1. re: Joe H

                        Ah, and not Aan de Poel either?

                        1. re: Nancy S.

                          No. The trip did not go as planned, in part because of business in part because of awful weather. An Italian restaurant that provided an extraordinary dinner on Thursday night (almost immediately behind the Pulitzer hotel) was the polar opposite on Saturday night. The Five Flies was mediocre and Casa di Davide was a good stop for the money with fairly good pizza from a wood burning oven. This last was enormously popular-we would go again.

                          1. re: Joe H

                            Wow, what a disappointment. Sorry to hear that the weather kept you from being able to make it to de Kas. I'd imagine the rain beating against the glass walls and ceiling of the greenhouse could actually add to the atmosphere.

                            Interesting that you went to d'Vijff Vlieghen - I think I read another post here saying to be suspect of anyone who recommends that place. Seems like good advice, although I still haven't made it there myself.

                            What was the name of the inconsistent Italian place near the Pulitzer? And where did you get the frites with oorlog saus that you liked?

                            If you make it back to Amsterdam again, hopefully you have better luck!

                            1. re: rastan

                              Vleminckx (sp?) was the name of the frites stand that I still lust for! Bussia was the Italian behind the Pulitzer. On our first visit it was truly a one Michelin star. A return visit several days later was a disappointment.

                              1. re: Joe H

                                I guess it's quite telling if a hole-in-the-wall sized french fries shop is the most memorable moment for a foodie in Amsterdam. Even if the fries are *really* good... And I must admit that Joe H. is not entirely off the mark - the Amsterdam restaurant scene does leave a lot to be desired.

                                I do stand by my "Best Amsterdam Restaurants" though and think you would have liked de Kas, de Witte Uyl, Marius and Balthazar's Keuken! Hope you have a better time if you do come back.

                                dutchgrub
                                --
                                www.dutchgrub.com

                                1. re: dutchgrub

                                  dutchgrub, we REALLY liked Amsterdam. We also had very good experiences in "lesser" restaurants like Casa da Davide (which, for the price and ambience was fine; not a "great" restaurant but just perfect for a less expensive night out with comfort food). Our first night at Bussia was truly extraordinary. I thought I had found a restaurant to rave about. In fact we were so impressed that we cancelled our reservation at de Kas to go back. But, before you suggest this was a mistake, I was in Amsterdam for a tradeshow for my industry. I have two very close friends who are similarly food impressed whose "opinions I trust." (please forgive me, dutchgrub) I've also eaten my way through 30 or 35 Michelin starred restaurants in Europe with each of them over the past 30 or so years. Both, independent of the other, went to de Kas which I recommended based on countless positive reviews. Both were disappointed. One also went to the two star, Ciel Bleu, and really enjoyed it believing the two Michelin stars were appropriate. But he was also especially critical of de Kas. I also know the reputation of de Kas in numerous guidebooks as well as yourself. Still, I belleve that my taste and values are similar to theirs' and because of this it seemed like the perfect opportunity and excuse to return to Bussia. Please note that I met Bussia's chef on that Thursday and thanked him for a real memory-I cannot tell you how impressed we were with the dinner and the experience. Saturday night was the antithesis which started with an ill informed waiter who had no fundamental understanding of the menu or of what was being slaved over in the kitchen to be served' yet it continued to several dishes that just didn't approach the first night.

                                  I liked your city-a lot!! My comments about the fries should not be taken lightly-I cannot find these in America, there's just nothing here than even approaches how good they were!!! I would probably put them up against anything I've had in Brussels, too.

                                  I must also say that Amsterdam has a fantastic fromagerie which features "slow food cheese" and the best bleu cheese I've ever had in my life: Bleu de Wolvega. I cannot buy this here. I've even called the shop and asked if they can ship to the U. S. we loved it so much.

                                  Let me close by telling you how jealous I am that several of the best things I've ever tasted in my life were in your city. Neither can I find on this side of the Atlantic. You are, indeed, extremely fortunate to live in a great city!

                                  1. re: dutchgrub

                                    In the post above I have tried to edit "food impressed" to read "food obsessed" and it is not posting. My intention was to simply state that they live to eat!!!

                                    1. re: Joe H

                                      Hi Joe,

                                      I most definitely did not mean to say you made a mistake and I'm sorry if I gave the impression you neglected my advice or anything like that.

                                      Quite to the contrary, I feel that your experience is very recognizable and in line with my own and that of many others that visit Amsterdam. There's good food, but it's often found in unexpected places, the selection is limited and quality is inconsistent.

                                      Like you said in your original post, it's hard to come up with three or four great food experiences in Amsterdam that have reliably delivered good food and are known for it. I believe that Nancy, in her comments, is having similar difficulties.

                                      And like you, I've been to Bussia and loved it, and would not be surprised if my experience was bad on a next visit.

                                      Those fries by Vleminckx on Voetboogsteeg are definitely special - amazing to see the long line of people almost any day and impressive how the guys just keep working hard and bringing out quality fries!

                                      Would bring you some of that Bleu de Wolvega on my next trip, but I don't think customs would let me in with it...

                                      Anyway, thanks for having started a great thread and for having shared your experiences in so much detail!

                                      dutchgrub
                                      --
                                      www.dutchgrub.com

                                      1. re: dutchgrub

                                        Dutchgrub, there's no need to bring the cheese but for anyone reading this who is thinking about bringing it back: customs OPENED my suitcase because my wife purchased tulips bulbs and declared them; as a result they decided to inspect everything we had. They found the different vacuum packed cheeses we had and allowed all of them including the bleu de wolvega. Curiously-because I did not taste it in Amsterdam-when we opened the vacuum packing here (we were told the blue vein disappears with time if it stays in this) and sliced off the thick rind the actual cheese was moist and crumbly. Completely different than any of the other cheeses which were vacuum packed. For all the world the bleu de wolvega could have been almost a soft cheese requiring refrigeration. But it survived the trip and customs perfectly. I type this for anyone who finds it-yes, you can bring it back (we found out the hard way!) and yes, it will survive the trip!