From a five course interactive dining experience to hip burger joints and Dutch pancakes, Francesca Peaks discovers Amsterdam’s best gastronomic secrets.
De Culinaire Werkplaats
What looks like a large unassuming kitchen on the corner of a quiet street in west Amsterdam is actually one of the best tasting experiences you’ll ever have. Five-course tasting menus are devised around a theme, such as Japanese imperfection and rituals, and presented beautifully, each with a brief explanation that in no way impedes your enjoyment of the complex flavours. One course is even interactive, so whatever ends up on our plate is of your own making. All they ask in return is that you take your own dishes to the sink – a small ask for what is an incredibly reasonably priced culinary experience.
The clue’s in the name – the Dutch for ‘mothers’ – but in case you don’t speak Dutch, the floor-to-ceiling photographs of mothers and grandmothers might give it away. Home-style comfort food is on offer at this cute spot, think mashed potatoes with meatballs, sausages and rich gravy. Order the starter selection for a cake-stand full of hearty Dutch savouries, and end on a high with apple cake or delightfully light French toast. All while basking in the glow of a hundred smiling mothers, even though none of them are your own.
A mere 10-minute walk from the red light district, but a world away, this house of galettes brings a slice of Normandy to town. The rustic classic French cafe is filled with the smell of coffee and freshly baked goodies, from berry crumble to buttery brioche, not to mention the two hefty crepe machines behind the bar. Go for a classic ‘Complet’ galette, with ham, egg and cheese, and indulge with a large slice of justs-sweet-enough tarte tatin.
Sanders Bar & Kitchen
Whether you’re in the mood for a cocktail or hearty meal, this well-located spot on the edge of the shopping district manages to be casual, cool and cosy at the same time. The rustic interior and wide leather sofas make it perfect for a well-earned drink after a day of museum-hopping – the sharing platter of cheese and steak tartare is a winner.
This isn’t your average burger joint piggybacking on the trend – this one’s backed by Michelin-starred chef Robert Kranenborg, and takes pride in sourcing only the best ingredients for every element of their ‘thriller’ burgers. From the newspaper-printed menus to the exposed brick walls, it may seem like a hipster’s paradise, but the proof’s in the meat, and this meat is worth the (fairly short) wait. Don’t skip the super-crispy truffle parmesan fries, either. When you’re done, nip around the corner to the Albert Cuyp Market and pick up a freshly-made stroopwafel for dessert.
If Holland battle with France for the title of best crepes, then these tiny restaurants, which lend themselves to substantial queues, are a serious contender in the transnational battle. With their range of savoury and sweet, they’ve got everyone covered, even those who prefer tiny American-style fluffy pancakes simply sprinkled with icing sugar. Be a traditionalist and stick to the light and flavourful Dutch version, then walk out rubbing your tummy in glee.