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Worth finding an ultimate restaurant in Amsterdam?

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I'm off to Amsterdam at the end of the month - the first time I'll actually be in the city as opposed to just passing through the airport. I'm interested in sampling the best the local cuisine has to offer. I have a few places that look to be on the list of definites:

Blauw aan de Wal (always seems to be recommended)
D'Vijff Vlieghen (for traditional Dutch - also open to other recommendations)
Tempo Doeloe (for Indonesian)
Gartine (for breakfast)
't Kuyltje (at least one lunch)

Also looking for:
The best pancakes in town. Value-for-money proposition is NOT a consideration; faithfulness to tradition is critical.
Seafood - I have to go to at least one good fish restaurant while there
Any recommendations here?

But a brief bit of research has me wondering how worth the effort it is to go for anywhere super-high-end and commensurately expensive. This is because I'm also in London just before and might opt for a top-end London restaurant I've not been to instead.

I go to London all the time and it's on home soil, so on the one hand there's nothing in particular that puts any urgency on exploring the scene still further; I already know it fairly well anyway. But on the other hand what I see from Amsterdam suggests that perhaps at the top end there isn't a distinctive regional style - and thus perhaps no particular reason to visit an ultra-posh restaurant in the sense that I might not find anything there that I wouldn't equally be able to find in almost any city of reasonable size and gastronomic ambition in Europe. Can anyone comment on this - specifically for places where the bill, per person, not including wine, is likely to be at least €60 or more? Is there anything that represents an unique, "unmissable" restaurant in the upper price range? If not I'll opt for a traditional Dutch place of some sort.

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  1. Blauw aan de Wal is located in the middle of the red light district, but not directly on the street. It is also expensive. Vijff Vlieghen is in a very nice old building. It is mostly for tourists. Tempo Doeloe is a tourist trap. The food isn't bad, but the experience is.
    The other two places are OK.

    I'd recommend the pancake house in the Amsterdamse Bos: http://www.boerderijmeerzicht.nl/
    You might also like the "Blue Teahouse" in Vondelpark: http://www.blauwetheehuis.nl/

    You can also take a canal cruise that includes lunch or dinner.

    33 Replies
    1. re: ThomasvanDale

      I should have mentioned - atmosphere and/or service are from my point immaterial next to the quality of the food. They would only come into play *if* at the very top of the quality scale for any given price point, there were 2 or more places of *identical* quality of food but with marked differences in service or atmosphere.

      Nor do I much care about whether or not tourists frequent a place - it's not the "undiscovered local gem" that I'm necessarily looking for, i.e. the sort of place only known to locals, and perhaps only a select group of locals at that. Indeed, it's quite often the case that tourists *do* visit some of the best places, simply because quality can't hide - if you do something exceptionally well, you're going to get noticed. That said, it is of course not necessarily the case that everywhere worthwhile will already be well-known to tourists, nor that where tourists go is necessarily any good. However, a place that takes a cynical attitude and allows the quality of its food to be compromised simply because they can get away with it thanks to an influx of uncritical tourists, yes, I'd want to avoid that - but that's because the food quality is diminished, not because of the presence of tourists (after all, I'll be one!)

      From my POV Blauw aan de Wal isn't amazingly expensive - not compared to much higher-end competition. It's in the "upper-mid-range" bracket.

      You say Tempo Doeloe's food "isn't bad". Is that essentially equivalent to saying that you're unlikely to find better food quality (taken in the absolute) in other Indonesian restaurants? (I get the impression the answer to that may be yes - which is why it's on the list of musts)

      What about the quality of Vijff Vlieghen from the point of view of the food? Are there better places for traditional Dutch, considering again food quality as primary?

      1. re: AlexRast

        Blauw aan de Wal is not amazingly expensive, but to get there you will need to walk through crowds of semi-drunken yobs staring at the prostitutes and will probably have some trouble finding it among the sex-related businesses. Is it really worth that much trouble? I don't think so.

        Tempo Doeloe is a tourist trap. They will try to extract every Euro they can from you. There are lots of other Indonesian restaurants here if you feel the need to eat Indonesian. And "not bad" means it's edible.

        The other places on your list are all fairly standard touristic places that are OK. If you're not used to Dutch food/cooking, you probably will be generally pleased at most of them. But, even then, I doubt you will feel that you've had the "ultimate" experience.

        I'm not sure how much I can help you. You can search the forum here and see what other tourists found. Maybe that is closer to what you want.

        1. re: ThomasvanDale

          Thanks for your thoughts.

          Walking through "crowds of semi-drunken yobs" doesn't faze me - things that are, as it were "part of the scenery" are things I can easily look beyond. It really takes quite a lot indeed to deter me from somewhere I'm trying to get to - or even for that matter to colour my experience once there. So the question for Blauw... is essentially this: is the quality sufficient that, *in disregard of location*, it would be a good place, among the best in its price category? In other words, imagine for a second you plop it down in a peaceful safe location, easily accessible and easily found. Would it then be a really great restaurant, a reference point of the Amsterdam dining experience?

          What do you suggest for Indonesian? Remember I'm looking for the absolute best there is in the city. Price and location aren't factors; authenticity is.

          Again, I'm looking for excellent with respect to traditional Dutch. I don't have any particular fixation on anywhere - the names I mentioned are simply the ones that appear everywhere (and thus, one might infer, are probably among the best). Have you got better ones in mind?

          I want to stress again, though, that the degree to which a particular establishment is set up to cater to tourists is from my point of view immaterial. That means that on the one hand, if somewhere is aligned towards tourists and is also the best in the style of food it does, that's fine. But on the other hand if the places that actually are the best in their style are NOT aimed at tourists that's fine too. A place could be the most well-known in the Universe or completely unknown outside the local group, and I just wouldn't care.

          In general, anything ancillary to the actual food itself is for me exactly that - ancillary - a factor that's only even worth considering at the point where the available quality of the food has been maximised. It should be stressed, too, that quality in this sense doesn't refer to *style*, in the sense that some make quality synonymous with luxury restaurants having at least ambitions to Michelin stars, if they don't already have them, or on the other hand as some make quality synonymous with high value-for-money propositions that make a virtue of humility and minimal pretension to provide nice versions of local or ethnic dishes. Anything goes for me, style-wise. It should be noted though that in the tone of my original post, if the recommended places in mind should happen to fall into that top end where prices get to €60 or more a head, I'd want some additional assurance that it gives me some unique food proposition not likely to be found in other cities.

          1. re: AlexRast

            I think the problem here is that we have very different approaches to food and travelling. For me, the atmosphere of a place is almost as important as the quality of the food. If people don't care about the atmosphere, why should the kitchen care about what they serve?

            While you think tourists can lead you to good choices, I think the opposite. I could go on, but I hope you see the point.

            Amsterdam has some wonderful restaurants - that is, both food and atmosphere - but, from what you've written, I doubt you would like them.

            If all you care about is the quality of food, why not go to a traiteur and buy something delicious to eat in your hotel room?

            1. re: ThomasvanDale

              I agree. I've had some very good food in Amsterdam at all kinds of places, none of them high-end.

              If the OP has so many options of blowing his load in London, I'd recommend he take it down a notch and just go to some nice eateries.

              "The very best Amsterdam has to offer" is quite subjective.

              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                Agreed that we have different approaches and priorities - but I hope that doesn't stop you (or anyone else) from making interesting recommendations!

                It's a bit like buying a present for someone else. What you get might not be something you personally like, but (hopefully) you know enough about the person to be able to interpret something they might like a lot. However, that's difficult to do if you don't know much about what their likes and priorities are - which is why I've spent some time to belabour the point. I may know what I like, but you know infinitely more than I do about what's available in Amsterdam because you've been and I haven't. So I'd be inclined to trust your recommendations more than my own.

                As you say, linguafood, "the best..." is quite subjective - has what I've described given enough context to let you know what I've got in mind? Or would you like more explanation?

                However, nigardener, I'm of the opinion that it's likely that if all the places you went to for traditional food were bad, then it's that you went to the wrong places. There's almost always somewhere, in any country, that believes in doing a good job with respect to their local/traditional cuisine. And there is almost no local cuisine, anywhere, that doesn't make the most of what they have locally in order to produce wonderful meals.

                By way of further explanation, also, some specific answers to your questions:

                "If people don't care about the atmosphere, why should the kitchen care about what they serve?"

                To me these are independent concerns. On the one hand that a person isn't bothered about the atmosphere doesn't mean they won't care about anything else, such as the food quality, and on the other hand, the kitchen may care about what they serve for many reasons unrelated to customer reaction to the atmosphere - anything from, for instance, wanting to represent the best example of the culinary style they've chosen as possible, to simply maximising profit by being able to charge above the "commodity" rate for restaurants in their market segment.

                "While you think tourists can lead you to good choices, I think the opposite."

                Sorry if I wasn't clear here. What I mean is, the presence (or even dominance) of tourists in a restaurant isn't very informative with respect to whether a restaurant is good or bad, by itself. It just gives you no (reliable) information, pro or con. We have no reason to believe, *a priori*, that a tourist will be any more or less discerning than a native with respect to where they go to eat. So it's not that I expect tourists to lead me to good choices but rather that if tourists are there, I don't assume the choice is definitely a *bad* one.

                However, the fact of a restaurant being well-known is a slightly more reliable guide than no information, because one of the more common ways restaurants become well-known (and thus popular) is by being very good. It's not a particularly strong association, so I would always take popularity with the proverbial grain of salt, but on the other hand if somewhere were generally well-known and highly recommended, I'd be inclined at least to keep them under consideration.

                "Amsterdam has some wonderful restaurants - that is, both food and atmosphere - but, from what you've written, I doubt you would like them."

                Can you clarify why you think I might not like them? Do you mean that even from your perspective, the food is actually only OK, not great, and that it's the atmosphere, when taken in consideration with the food as well, that puts them in the realm of wonderful? If so, then my guess is that for me they'd be in the category of "vague disappointment". Or do you mean that you think I wouldn't like them because they clearly put some emphasis on the atmosphere in their overall presentation - and that I might be critical of efforts spent to improve the atmosphere that might have been put to better use by making the food even better? If so, then don't be mistaken, by no means do I mind a nice atmosphere when that's on offer. I'm not looking for reasons to criticise somewhere. As long as I was satisfied that the food was in the range of "as good as I could reasonably expect" for the given price category, I'd be happy. Or some other interpretation I'm not thinking of?

                "If all you care about is the quality of food, why not go to a traiteur and buy something delicious to eat in your hotel room?"

                Because then I'd be limited to cold dishes.

                1. re: AlexRast

                  It's not that I've been to Amsterdam, I live in Amsterdam. Secondly, atmosphere vs. quality: why say you don't care about the atmosphere or the service? The restaurants here that serve high-quality food ALL pay equal attention to atmosphere and service. Saying you only care about the food is similar to saying you only care about the beds in your hotel and the bathroom or the state of furnishings outside your room, for example, don't matter.

                  Part of the problem, I think, is asking for something specific based on your experiences where you are from.

                  I suggested going to a traiteur to buy food and eat in your room or outdoors. You said "Because then I'd be limited to cold dishes."

                  Why do you think that? Plenty of traiteurs here sell hot food, a few even have a table and chairs to eat there.

                  I gave you, several posts ago, two recommendations for typical local places that serve good food, are not expensive (for what they serve) and, especially for a tourist like you, would give you a special experience that most tourists would never see.

                  Personally, I am more interested in good food and good atmosphere than "ultimate" or high-cost. I don't look for the kind of places you seem to want, so, although I do know the food scene in Amsterdam quite well, I am not a good source for someone who has a list of requirements that don't match the restaurant scene here and seems to be rather inflexible with that list.

                  1. re: ThomasvanDale

                    "It's not that I've been to Amsterdam, I live in Amsterdam."

                    Sorry, no offence intended. I was using "been to Amsterdam" as a shorthand for expressing every possibility; self-evidently someone who lives somewhere has been there.

                    "why say you don't care about the atmosphere or the service? The restaurants here that serve high-quality food ALL pay equal attention to atmosphere and service."

                    Useful to know. I make mention of it only so as to not have people rule out possible choices on grounds that ultimately don't matter to me one way or the other. If places that do good food there have a congenial atmosphere, so much the better!

                    "...is similar to saying you only care about the beds in your hotel and the bathroom or the state of furnishings outside your room, for example, don't matter."

                    You probably don't know how close to the truth that is in my case! In actual fact, when it comes to choosing hotels, again one factor has more or less pre-emptive priority: location. I'll gladly accept a significant reduction in creature comforts or service for a highly optimum location. And indeed once you get past that, then yes, the bed is infinitely more important than the state of furnishings outside the room. However this is deviating off-topic.

                    "Part of the problem, I think, is asking for something specific based on your experiences where you are from."

                    Maybe this is a misunderstanding, because what I'm trying to say is - I know nothing about the restaurant scene in Amsterdam, so that rather than use any expectations based on where I'm from to decide, I'm asking others to paint a clearer picture of the actual restaurant possibilities, so that an informed decision becomes possible.

                    "who has a list of requirements that don't match the restaurant scene here..."

                    If taken at face value, based upon how I outlined my priorities, this would seem to say that the restaurant scene in Amsterdam is such that quality food, at *any* price point, doesn't exist - clearly an absurd interpretation. So it must be that the way I've explained it here has been confusing to you. There *is*, as you have hinted at, an inflexibility in my approach: I take a hard, uncompromising line on food quality, and I don't deny that perhaps as a result I miss out on experiences that might have been nice. But in a world where the number of experiences you can have is necessarily finite, I'm setting priorities that makes clear what experiences I'm foregoing in favour of others.

                    "Why do you think that? Plenty of traiteurs here sell hot food,"

                    I admit that was a simplification made in the interests of providing a short and compact answer. Yes, I realise various forms of hot food takeaway are possible, but the practicalities of that are such that only certain types of food can feasibly be made and survive a journey to anywhere without their quality significantly diminished. To give a British example, it wouldn't be feasible to serve a traditional roast beef as a takeaway item. Furthermore it's reasonable to expect that at least a certain proportion of good restaurants in Amsterdam or anywhere else have food at least as good if not better than what you could get at a traiteur. It would be an artificial limitation to go only to the second type of establishment. On the other hand, I'll certainly keep it in mind as an option - a meal from a local traiteur would be a good way of experiencing part of the food you might never get going only to restaurants.

                    "I am more interested in good food and good atmosphere than "ultimate" or high-cost."

                    Sorry if the way I initiated the post threw you off. Absolutely I am NOT exclusively looking for high-end, high-cost places. What I do, anywhere, is try to sample a reasonable cross-section of food available across different styles and market segments. Cost is never the specific object, either in the sense of looking specifically for something above a specific price point or in the sense of imagining that high cost must necessarily correlate with better quality.

                    But, one style and market segment that you do find in almost any large city is the "elite" restaurant with some sort of ambitions to "world-class" status. Now, if there's something unique or special or representing a food style, hopefully sympathetic to the region, that makes a particular elite restaurant in a particular city really worth doing, then I'm all for it - as part of getting the full cross-section of what's to be had locally. But if on the other hand the food they serve is fundamentally no different from what you could get in any other such establishment, in any other city, then I'm not particularly motivated to go. So my original question was more, in the context of a visit which tries to sample from as many typical and high-quality food establishments as possible, in all price ranges, is it worth spending the time and money specifically to seek out an "elite" place in Amsterdam? But let's not be mistaken, all other suggestions are gratefully received - including the ones you've already mentioned. Thanks.

                    1. re: AlexRast

                      Well, let me try again. There are a number of restaurants in or near Amsterdam that have one of two Michelin stars. You can easily google for them. Most start diner at €70 or more. I've only eaten at Yamazato and it was wonderful, but not local food. It may also be difficult to make reservations for them unless your trip is well in the future.

                      To start, throw away your list. As well as the Vijff Vlieghen, you could look at de Silveren Spiegel. Neither one has "special" food, but both are in old buildings and have a special atmosphere. The Silveren Spiegel is probably slightly lower cost, the food may be a bit better and a reservation will likely be easier to get.

                      "Ultimate" is to me both silly and subjective. I'll give you recommendations of good food instead.

                      Instead of Gartine, try Pompadour - its a Dutch version of a patisserie including mostly French style pastries. Or, Gebroeders Niemeijer is another very good option for a breakfast meal.

                      For lunch, I would recommend either of the two places I have already suggested.

                      For dinner, I would recommend Gebr. Hartering (Gebr. is an abbreviation of Gebroeders, which means brothers) which is a restaurant making interesting new food. Or Firma Speijkervet, for mostly excellent meat dishes. Or Prego for just very good food.

                      For a nice traiteur, I would recommend Peperwortel (http://www.peperwortel.nl/). You can also eat lunch or dinner on their terrace. Or, if you would like good Indonesian: Terang Boelan (I'm not sure, but I believe they have an inside table for customers to eat).

                      All of these places make Dutch food (except the Indonesian) or make something Dutch people enjoy. "Real" Dutch food is mostly cooked at home and not so easy to find in restaurants. Things like herring and pancakes are also real Dutch food, but they can be found almost everywhere (there's not much cooking involved). Stoopwafel is another typical Dutch food, but more a very different type of pastry. Fresh ones are very hard to find, but supermarkets or bakeries sell packaged ones. There is one place I know to get fresh ones: there is one stand at the Albert Cuypstraat street market that makes them.

                      There are many other places to enjoy high-quality food, but I think this gives you a nice variety. There are far more restaurants and cafés here serving foreign food than Dutch food. I've tried to focus only on the Dutch ones.

                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                        Thomas
                        How lucky to come across your posting and my thanks to Alex as well for asking his original question. My wife and I will also be spending 12 days in Amsterdam at the end of the month and we will certainly ride our bicycles to some of these destinations. We promise to write back for future readers on our experiences.

                        1. re: DavidRx

                          Your appreciation is appreciated. If you need more recommendations, please let me know. Regarding bicycles: be aware that under Dutch law the slower the transport, the higher the priority: so, a pedestrian does have higher priority than a biker, although many local people let bikes go first, however both have priority over motor vehicles.

                          Biking here can be a bit difficult at first. I would recommend going by foot the first few days until you think you understand how it works. Then, just be careful and enjoy yourselves in our wonderful city!

                        2. re: ThomasvanDale

                          Super. Thanks again. I've looked at the websites of several now and they already look interesting. Will report on how it went on my return.

                          1. re: AlexRast

                            You're welcome. I hope you now understand how this disproves your incorrect theory that tourists are a good source of information about foreign cities.

                            There are many fine restaurants here, but I've only mentioned enough for your short stay. If you need more, I encourage you to ask.

                            I hope there will be nice weather while you are here.

                            1. re: ThomasvanDale

                              Sorry, I don't really want to belabour a minor point now that most misunderstandings have been cleared but there is still an idea that seems to have been miscommunicated.

                              "this disproves your incorrect theory that tourists are a good source of information about foreign cities."

                              I'm sorry: somehow I still haven't managed to communicate properly my thoughts on this.

                              There are several variables in play here, with different levels of correlation.

                              1: The quality level of a given restaurant.
                              2: The general degree to which a restaurant is known
                              3: The popularity of the restaurant.
                              4: The degree to which the restaurant is frequented by tourists.
                              5: The degree to which a given tourist's recommendations can be relied upon.

                              Let me start with 5. It seems to me, that without any prior knowledge of the tourist in question, one must take their recommendation reliability as being no better than random chance. This means that their recommendations may not be consistently good, but neither are they likely to be definitely BAD. There's no grounds either to seek or avoid anywhere they recommend, without more information.

                              This has implications for 4. If tourists in general represent random chance, in terms of restaurant quality, that means that you can't assume anything, either good or bad, a priori, about a restaurant simply because there are many tourists in it. This is why I'm not bothered by the presence of many tourists in a restaurant.

                              *BUT*, now let me consider 1 and 2. High-quality restaurants tend to get noticed. People will talk about good experiences in restaurants, and this means that quality is a significant contributing factor (though not the only one) to the degree to which a restaurant becomes known. We can therefore predict that there is a significantly greater than random chance that a good restaurant will be well-known.

                              Considering 3, in turn, this correlation is even stronger here. A high-quality place, that really does good food, is going to get repeat patronage. So in addition to new customers, they'll get a fair number of repeat customers. Again this means that there is a greater than random chance that a good restaurant will be popular.

                              Now, consider the impact of 2 and 3 upon the movement of tourists. In the absence of better information, people will gravitate to restaurants either that they've heard about, or that seem to be popular when walking by. Indeed, this is driven partly by understanding the impact of factors 2 and 3. Combining this with 2 and 3, we arrive at a prediction that a good restaurant has a significantly greater than random chance of being frequented by tourists.

                              But, notice the direction of the chain of causation. It's not that the fact of being frequented by tourists makes a restaurant any more likely to be good, a priori, but rather, that the fact of a restaurant being good makes it more likely that it will be frequented by tourists. And this chain is *strictly* one-way.

                              That also means you can't "reverse the arrows" on 2 or 3 either - you can't assume that the popularity of a restaurant, or its public visibility, indicate anything about its quality.

                              So you can't judge the quality of a restaurant, necessarily, by tourist popularity or recommendations, but you *can* expect to encounter tourists in high-quality restaurants. And that's my actual position. I don't look to tourists (including myself!) as a guide, but on the other hand I don't see them as any kind of warning to stay away either.

                              Sorry one and all for the lengthy elaboration. I'd respond by private e-mail if I could.

                              1. re: AlexRast

                                When someone starts with "I don't really want to belabour a minor point..." and then proceeds to do exactly that, I really so no point to have a discussion on logical grounds.

                                1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                  Thomas,

                                  I was following your posts: my hat off to you because of your patience with the main discussion going on here.

                                  Last August we were in Amsterdam for four days and these were the restaurants we visited:

                                  1) Tempo Doeloe: hated every minute of it: average food, dark, next table within cm’s…
                                  2) Elkaar: nothing to write home about and do not intend to go there again,
                                  3) Haesje Claes: again, nothing to write home about,
                                  4) Graves: this one we liked the most.

                                  Once you live in Amsterdam could I ask you couple of questions? My husband and I are going to be in Amsterdam for three days in November. I extensively studied Michelin guide, chow.com discussion board, as well as www.dutchgrub.com (I am sure you are familiar with the website).

                                  For us ATMOSPHERE in the restaurant is as important (and probably a little more) than the food itself. Having been in MANY restaurants worldwide we tend to remember atmosphere -good or bad- more than the food itself, e.g. how about eating “exquisite” food next to the damaged restroom?

                                  In addition, our egos would not be insulted if the cost of the food is less than 60 Euros per person, excluding wine (we could pay more).

                                  This time I identified the following places: Balthazars Keuken, Greetje, Blau aan de Wal, Marius, Wilde Zwinen, Le Garage, Envy, Ron Blaau, Van Vlaanderen --- what do you think about them? I did make notes about your recommendations though.

                                  Food should be finely prepared -traditional or creative-but not “ rabbit in a chocolate sauce type cuisine” and tables preferably not aligned alongside the wall. In general, restaurant preferably be relaxed and beyond the “look how good we are” attitude.

                                  Thank you very much and hope to hear from you, Thomas. If you ever need recommendations about Berlin restaurants, please drop a line.

                                  1. re: Manpet

                                    I'm not Thomas :-), but I really had a very nice meal at Balthazar's Keuken. I also like de Struisvogel.

                                    Neither are haute cuisine, blow-your-mind experiences, but good food at very moderate prices.

                                    I'd be very curious to see your Berlin restaurant list, but that's for another post, I s'pose.

                                    1. re: linguafood

                                      Thanks for Balthazar's Keuken info, as well as mentioning de Struisvogel.

                                      As for Berlin restaurants, any particular questions?

                                      1. re: Manpet

                                        No, not really. I spend pretty much every summer (tho, sadly not this year) in Berlin and so am well-acquainted with the resto scene.

                                        I just wanted to compare notes.

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          We have just returned from "Lochner" Have you ever been there?? It is very much recommended.

                                          1. re: Manpet

                                            I have not -- it's not in my hood or the hoods I usually live in/hang out. I've also cut down on my fancy-shmancy meals in Berlin since there are such great mid-range places with fab food.

                                            Too bad their website doesn't work....

                                    2. re: Manpet

                                      Thank you for your kind statements. I suppose Amsterdam is not so different from many other European cities in the sense that we have here some not very good restaurants (we even have our own 'McDonalds' called Febo), many pretty good restaurants and a few very good ones. The very good ones are usually in the category because of a combination of atmosphere and quality food.

                                      Yes, I know the Dutchgrub site and my problem with it is that he confuses 'hot/trendy' with 'good'. I ate once at Balthazar's Keuken over 10 years ago and didn't think it was anything special. I haven't been back, so maybe it has improved a lot in the meantime.

                                      A similar restaurant to Balthazar (serving one or two dishes for everyone) is La Vallade. It has a much nicer atmosphere and is located in a much nicer area. I have eaten there several times and it is quite good, though certainly not Michelin class. I should say it is nicer in warm weather when their terrace is open.

                                      Another restaurant (also nicer in the warm weather) is Merkelbach. It is located in a park in the east of the city. It is in a lovely old building with a terrace in the park (probably closed now), but very nice interior and very good quality food. It probably wouldn't hurt to reserve.

                                      Another interesting restaurant (though probably very difficult to reach) is De Gouden Reael. Gouden Reael is an old area of the city that is cut off from the rest of the city by a railroad bridge. There are only two places to walk under the bridge. The restaurant is closer to the eastern entrance. The food is good, but the atmosphere is lovely.

                                      Speaking of railroad, there is a nice restaurant built into a former swinging railroad bridge. It is called Bridges. It does not swing anymore. The food is quite good, the atmosphere is quite modern (nothing special), but the experience is quite interesting.

                                      And finally, a quiet favourite of mine: Bouchon du Centre. This is a cafe specialised in French cooking (very good) and operated by a staff of one person. The owner is the hostess, waitress, chef and cashier (cash only payment). Dinner is rather early (she closes at 20:00). It is easy to find in the city center.

                                      1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                        Thomas,

                                        Thanks a lot.

                                        I did make a note about La Vallade, Merkelbach, De Gouden Reael, Bridges and Bouchon du Centre: I hope I did not miss anything.

                                        The last one sounds especially promising. In case you are interested I will report after the trip.

                                        I have not seen these names ANYWHERE: it takes a local person to make these suggestions. Thanks very much again.

                                        Have you been to Greetje? I understand your reservations about Dutchgrub suggestions that's why I am asking this question.

                                        1. re: Manpet

                                          You are quite welcome.

                                          No, I never have. When I first heard about it several years ago, I was interested, but I just never went. I guess there are too many good restaurants here and it is hard to visit them all ;-).

                                          Don't forget also the recommendations I made further up to the OP.

                                          And yes, I would be interested to read your experiences after you visit here.

                                          1. re: Manpet

                                            Hi,

                                            I've enjoyed quite a few meals at Greetje. I would call it solid and enjoyable, but I had the impression that their success has somehow gone to their head... So we went to the Hartering brothers across the street last time and we loved it! They serve a no-choice menu with some wonderful ideas. My only quibble: the food is put on a serving plate and you serve yourself as their tiny kitchen doesn't have room to dress single plates. So you'll dribble dressing on the tablecloth as you try to balance a sardine across the table...

                                          2. re: ThomasvanDale

                                            Such wonderful places! So beautiful! When I'm in Amsterdam, I'm in an old East-end area, around Dapperburt/Indischebuurt. The two in Watergrafsmeer (sp?) are actually walkable from there. Gouden Reael seems most accessible by bicycle, so it depends on whether I have a bicycle when there (I am too short to borrow the bicycles of most Dutch friends).

                                            1. re: lagatta

                                              If you stay in the East, you can also reach Gouden Reael by tram or bus. From the central part of the city, it is also quite walkable, once you find the way.

                                              1. re: ThomasvanDale

                                                Yes, I can see that it is just north of Jordaan and just east of Westerpark; it is a matter of finding my way...

                2. re: ThomasvanDale

                  Thomas, as for Indonesian, have you ever been to Djago? It is about as far away from a tourist spot as you could get, in Rivierenbuurt (except for travellers looking for the actual house of the Frank family). http://www.restaurantdjago.nl/

                  I'm in Amsterdam at least once a year, and would like to do a good Indonesian; it can also be one that is fairly simple and not expensive (though we probably do want a beer or glass of wine, and some of the more homestyle Indos may be halal with no drink).

                  Thanks for your ideas. I love Vondelpark.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    No, I haven't but that is because I am not very keen on Indonesian food. I have two Indonesian take-outs near my home, so, if I ever should have a need for it, I would get it from one of them.

                    Although I have never eaten there myself, I have read good things about a place called Puspita. It is located in North Amsterdam (you need to take a ferry across the river IJ). They don't have a web site.

                    You're quite welcome for the recommendations. I hope you will enjoy them. If you like Vondel Park, you really should explore the Amsterdamse Bos next time you are here. You can easily reach it by tram or bus from the center.

                    1. re: ThomasvanDale

                      Yes, I've been there. I've been in Amsterdam several times, often on extended stays (a couple of months). Not as a tourist, and on a limited stipend.

                    2. re: lagatta

                      I've been to Djago many times and love it.

                      1. re: Klary

                        Any specific dishes or menus?

                  2. In the 2 years I lived in the Netherlands I never found a distinctive regional style and all of their traditional food is best missed. Astonishingly bad, frugal, and tasteless. I will give an exemption to their koffie and appelgebak met slagroom.
                    Indonesian restaurants and Middle Eastern food stands had the most flavorful meals.
                    If you can get down to Belgium you'll have more luck. Even better - go to France.