Amsterdam trip report - September 2012
A part work / part fun trip to Amsterdam for a week with lots of great restaurants sprinkled in. We had just arrived from Paris, so expectations were high.
Huge props to dutchgrub, the blog that gave us a few of these recommendations.
We stayed at the Pulitzer for the first few days (unimpressive for the price), and then at 717 which was probably the best hotel experience of my life. The level of service and quality of rooms was incredible. Lots of stairs. I can't recommend it enough. There was a conference in town and so hotels were totally booked.
Tuesday: Blauw aan wal, Red light district
Really great food - we had a large group so the room upstairs. It's surreal to be at a nice restaurant in the middle of the red light district, and the 3-course meal was really wonderful. We actually took the Pultizer boat on a tour just before this and got dropped off very close.
8 / 10
Wednesday: Balthazar Keuken
On the south side of the Jordaan, a nice little bistro. Approachable, plenty of conversation without being loud, lots of locals mid-week. Extremely affordable, and you really don't get to pick much of anything - they decide the menu for you. Problem with writing the review a month later is I can't remember much of what I ate except it was great. I think we got out of there at 40 Euro pp including wine; at least half of nearly every other dinner.
That's Balthazar with the beard.
8.5 / 10 - for the bistro feel, value and high quality food.
Good indonesian place, but very loud in the back room. It didn't blow my mind.
Friday: De Kas
Had very high expectations for this place, and in many ways they were met. The location and ambiance is incredible - cool setting in the greenhouse, in the middle of the park. Open and airy, just crazy cool. One of the coolest restaurants I've ever been to. Did I mention it was cool?
The food was extremely fresh - I had the best tomato salad of my life here, made of 7 different varieties. For some reason, however, I wasn't totally blown away by the flavors. We had a nice duck entree, but I can't explain why it didn't blow me away. There were a lot of ducks outside, so at least they're taking the locavore thing seriously ;-)
9 / 10 - It's just the coolest place, even if I've had better food.
Saturday: De Witte Uyl (White Owl)
Our best meal in Amsterdam. Go with a group and do it family style so you can try everything - it's all wonderful. We had several bottles of the 2005 Château de Biran Pecharmant, which the owners had just brought back from their summer vacation and talked about in their email list. Wandered around the art gallery next door while crashing some event.
9 / 10 - Highly recommend.
Overall, I loved Amsterdam. In the sunshine and warmth it is the greatest city. Ride a bike, do a canal tour, visit the insane tulip auctions, picnic in Vondelpark, go to the Shipsmuseum and really enjoy the restaurants. Stay at 717 - they packed us a picnic & I'm guessing we were the only ones eating on china in the park.
Glad you got to try the Château de Biran Pecharmant; 2011 was, sadly, the last vintage from the vigneron, who is perfectly lovely and who raises ponies for competitive driving. He's retiring, and none of his kids wanted to take up the mantle/yoke. :o(
As a francophile Belgian, I tend to give AMS short shrift. But now I'm looking forward to trying a couple of these places the next time I head north!