Amsterdam City Blog restaurants, shops, people and life in Amsterdam

31Jul/113

Lovely Lab111

Friday I was researching a LivingSocial deal (something akin to Groupon) for a place called Lab111 when Levi texted me "Shall we go out to dinner tomorrow?" I replied "Good idea! I know just the place!"

Interior of Lab111 in AmsterdamLab111 is housed in a former pathological lab (Pathologisch Anatomisch Laboratorium, like it says over the main entrance of the place). The strange lamps over the big table opposite the bar remind visitors of the space's history. The rest of the interior is fabulous. The black walls with fluorescent stripes look modern and fresh. The restaurant is spacious, with lots of room between the tables. Bench seating lines the walls. We get a table in the corner, overlooking the entire space.

The waiter is sincerely friendly and hospitable. He greets us when we come in. We get fresh bread with a wonderful olive oil. Then drinks. And then, after he's given us time to acclimatise, we get a menu. I love it.

I opt for the thinly sliced beef with chicory, green beans and sage mayonaise. Levi gets the soup of the day (sweet potato and tomato). For my main course I choose the steak with string beans, but I ask our friendly waiter if I can get it with the homemade fries instead of gratin, and he allows me to do so. Levi orders the fish of the day: redfish with opperdoezer potatoes and roasted fennel.

Steak with string beans at Lab111 in AmsterdamThe starter of thinly sliced beef is very tasty, but what blows me away is my main course of steak. Cutting it is surprisingly easy and it just melts in my mouth. Delicious. The jus could have been a little more concentrated, but its flavour is lovely. And the homemade fries are just like I'd imagined: crunchy and golden. Levi is a little less rapturous about his redfish, but he deems it a good dish.

Lab111 in Amsterdam at nightThe place it quite full by now. All the tables are taken. There are a few people having drinks at the bar, waiting for a table.

Levi and I share a dessert: rhubarb cheesecake. We're both big fans of cheesecake. We've had good and we've had extremely bad cheesecake. But this. Is. Good. Cheesecake. It is soft, almost creamy, and amply speckled with vanilla. The bottom is fresh and crunchy and the rhubarb topping is tart. The whole thing is well balanced and possibly the best cheesecake we've had so far.

Aside from the food, the thing that makes or breaks an evening is the service. Our friendly bald waiter (he turned out to be the owner, which bodes well for Lab111) made our evening a pleasure. Levi's parents are coming over for a visit in September. We're still looking for a nice place to take them to eat, that will live up to their standards. Lab111 is a definite contender!

Lab111
Arie Biemondstraat 111
1054PD Amsterdam
www.lab111.nl

 

23Jun/111

De Proeverij at Landmarkt Amsterdam

Levi has this thing for organic food. He wants to know that any piece of meat that lands on his plate comes from an animal that's had a good (and preferably full) life. Organic tomatoes are less watery and have more flavour, as do organic potatoes and cucumbers, etc. My mum pointed out to us that a new market place has opened its doors in Amsterdam East: Landmarkt Amsterdam.

I had a dinner date with my mum this evening (Levi had other plans) and she took me to De Proeverij, which is the restaurant at Landmarkt.

kitchen @ De Proeverij

photo courtesy of Landmarkt website

Great food
Well now! The staff is uncannily friendly (so unlike the rest of Amsterdam) and has a sense of humour. We ordered squid, fries and a ceasar salad. The salad was quite chunky and was amply sprinkled with parmesan and anchovies. The fries were made from unpeeled potatoes (which I love, it gives them more taste), golden brown and crunchy. But the squid was the best thing: incredibly fresh, and therefore soft and fleshy. Fried in oil with garlic. Yum!

The squid is listed with the snacks, and the fries as a side dish (very reasonably priced at E4,50 and E1,50) (yes, you read that right, the charge you E1,50 for a big bowl of fries with mayonaise... Also unheard of in Amsterdam). The ceasar salad was E7,- There are also soups, rolls, steak, fish and daily specials.

Fresh as can be
The ingredients are so fresh because they are obtained right there at the market. What's on offer at the market determines what's on the menu. Occupying a corner of an indoor market place has its advantages!

Because Landmarkt is located in a former greenhouse, De Proeverij's interior looks light, fresh and wholesome. If you go shopping for groceries (most if not all of the groceries found here are either organic or regional) after you've visited De Proeverij, then you will find that the butcher is also a man with a hearty sense of humour and that the girl at the register is very friendly as well. It's almost like being in another country!

Of course, to get to Landmarkt and De Proeverij, you do have to make somewhat of a trip, as it's not located anywhere near the city centre. But let me tell you: it's worth it.

Landmarkt on a Google mapLandmarkt Amsterdam and De Proeverij
Schellingwouderdijk 339 Amsterdam
www.landmarkt.nl

Restaurant
Monday-Sunday: noon - 10pm
Tel: 020-4904366

Market
Monday-Saturday: 8am- 8pm
Sunday:      noon-6pm
Tel: 020-4904333


31Mar/115

I promise myself: Caffe Oslo

I just read an interview on www.ilovefashionnews.nl with Kristina Bozilovic, who used to be on tv and now is editor in chief of a magazine (Talkies, I don't really like the name, I've never read it)(I also never used to watch her tv shows). She lists all her favourite places to go shopping, etc. The thing that gets me is the very last entry: her ultimate fashion food is a ceasar salad at Caffe Oslo.

And I thought to myself: Caffe Oslo? Where is that? I've never heard of it. Well, it's here (thank you Google Maps):Google map Caffe Oslo

It is on the Sloterkade, between Surinameplein and the Overtoom. It's a corner of the city that I rarely go to, but take a look at their website: www.caffeoslo.nl (website only in Dutch). I've linked directly to the photos of the interior. Doesn't it just look amazing? And the menu! I have to go here!

So today I make this solemn promise to myself: when the current exam period is over, I will treat myself with lunch or dinner with Levi and friends at Caffe Oslo!

21Mar/112

Odd McDonalds Amsterdam, E-I-E-I-O

feathered visitor in McDonaldsLet me state this first: I love good food. You can wake me up in the middle of the night for pheasant ravioli with truffle sauce and I will thank you for doing so. But once in a while I have a craving for something as mundane as McDonalds and I just have to have it.

The craving hit me a few days ago, when a classmate mentioned her Big Mac dinner and I thought to myself "Hm, that sounds tempting!" So the next day, off to McDonalds I went. I visited the one at the Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam West. It was the oddest Mac I'd ever seen!

I don't think I've ever seen so many women wearing headscarves in one McDonalds. There was one woman with a headscarf who came begging for money right at people's tables while they were eating. She would not leave and just stood there, insistently holding out her hand, eventhough people had said: "No." Eventually, she would move to another table, until she'd struck out at every one. She then sat down at a table in the middle of the room, scowling.

But the oddest thing for me was the poultry. There was a pigeon taking a leasurely stroll through the McDonalds. Just walking here and there through the entire establishment, presumably looking for food (although I must say it was a reasonably well-kept McDonalds, there was no food lying around on the floor at all).

30Jan/113

Anti tip: Metz & Co in the Leidsestraat

I don't often do anti tips (read: never), but Metz & Co deserves one. In fact, it deserves a warning sticker on the front door: "Do not enter, unless you cherish awful service, disgustingly overpriced food and drink, and the dirtiest, smelliest restroom since the invention of cleaning."

Why did we go there then? Well, I once interviewed a Norwegian director here, and I remember the view being stunning from the sixth floor. It was quiet then, and I concentrated on the interview and did not visit the restroom. The view is still stunning. You can see half the city from here, from the Leidsestraat to the canal and the inner courtyards between the expensive houses. Beware though: taking photos and filming is strictly forbidden (or so a sign informs the visitor).

The waiting staff did not give us much attention. They seemed to be hoping we would go away of our own accord if they ignored us. The coffee, when it did arrive, tasted like dishwater. My inner barista cried when they brought a cappuccino from an automated machine (note: Levi had ordered plain black coffee)

We tried not to let the place get us down and enjoy the view, but it was marred by a plethora of greasy prints on the window. As if it had been a week since it had last been cleaned. For one cup of bad coffee and one mint tea (three stalks of fresh mint in a bucket of hot water) we paid 7 euro.

Metz & Co is supposedly purveyor of the royal household. The royal crest is prominently displayed on the wall. Maybe the queen should rethink who she gives that title out to.

If you do decide to visit, go for the view, but for nothing else.

Metz & Co
Leidsestraat  34-36
1017PB Amsterdam

www.metzco.eu

Oh my, in looking that up, I just noticed their slogan on the website: "We are luxury." What a joke!

14Jan/110

Four reasons to go to Fyra in Amsterdam

It was our anniversay today. Levi took me out for a surprise dinner. The surprise was not in that we went to dinner, it was the place he took me to. He was so pleased with himself for having found it, quite by accident, it made me really curious! He took me to Fyra, in the Noorderstraat in Amsterdam.

Fyra means 'four'. It's worth wandering off the beaten path for. First of all, it's not so very far from the beaten path. The location is a short walk away from the Muntplein. It's a quiet sidestreet off the Vijzelgracht. Second of all, the interior looks great. Classy, but not pretentious. A comfortable chic. The art on the walls may or may not be to your taste, but it's colourful and adds to the atmosphere.

interior of restaurant Fyra in the Noorderstraat, AmsterdamAnd the people, third of all, are so very nice, they make you feel at home. Truly. I can't really explain it. It was just the way they treated you as a real person, with sincere interest and hospitality. It's actually quite unusual in Amsterdam, where disinterested staff is the norm.

Last but not least: the food. It's not the kind of fare I usually have. As it turns out, duck liver parfait is not my thing. But the catch of the day was a sort of sandwich of a white fish (I forgot its name!) with a filling of tasty little shrimps and a beurre blanc sauce. Wow.

Then there was  a course which consisted solely of meat. Our hostess called it "succade", which is a piece of the bovine that is not often used in restaurants I think It can be tough, but this was cooked slowly and lovingly for probably hours. It was soft and the red wine sauce very tasty.

The main course turned out to be a barbequed piece of American Black Angus steak, which was so tender it hardly needed chewing at all. Double wow. There were seasonal vegetables and a tiny sliver of gratin to accompany it. Dessert was a tiny warm chocolate pie with a melted center, accompanied by vanilla ice cream and a dribble of passionfruit sauce. Tripple wow.

So there. Four reasons to go Fyra. Johannes van Dam, probably the most famous restaurant reviewer in the Netherlands, gave this place a 10-, which is about as close to perfect as you can get. I'm not sure I would rate it that high, but I did very much love the whole experience.

Sidenote: Fyra is a ways above the pricerange I normally visit. A 3-course (set) menu is 32 euro, 4 courses 38 euro. The chef's menu (5 surprise courses, which may or may not include duck liver parfait) is E49,50.

Open 6 days a week, from 6 until 10 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Fyra
Noorderstraat 19-23
1017TR Amsterdam
www.restaurantfyra.nl (only in Dutch)

19Dec/102

A quick bite at Julia’s at Amsterdam CS

When you're going somewhere by train and want to have a quick bite at Amsterdam Central Station, you can get fast food at the Burger King, a plastic sandwich from Albert Heijn to go or, as of November 2008, a box of warm pasta Julia's Pasta.

grab a quick bite at Julia's Pasta at Amsterdam Central StationThe dishes are more or less prefab, and heated up and assembled right in front of you. Choose your pasta, your sauce and additional toppings if you like (each dish has a predetermined standard set of toppings), pay around 5 euro and then watch as one of Julia's employees throws everything together.

A prepackaged portion of frozen pasta goes into hot water, a ladle of sauce goes into the pan, toppings are sprinkled over (in my case: bacon bits, spring onions and parmesan cheese flakes) and hey presto! You can take a seat at one of the tables in the back with your carton of food and a piece of plastic cutlery.

I had the carbonara. It's no five star meal, but it's warm, it's filling, it's nourishing and cheap.

Also serves salads, sandwiches, tiramisu, prosecco and wine.

There is no website that I could find, no contactinformation either, but if you enter the station on the west side, it's the first shop on the left hand side in what currently serves as the main hall.

2Dec/102

Another find in the 9 Little Streets: Nooch

inside view of Nooch in the 9 Litte Streets in AmsterdamI had dinner at Nooch in the 9 Little Streets with my friend Matt. Nooch serves all manner of Asian kitchens, including Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese. The atmosphere is modern and friendly. We were early, so we had the place all to ourselves for a little while.

The menu consists of different kinds of small bites, but also offers bigger dishes for those among us who don't like small bites. Me, I love small bites, and I love to share. We had Tender Beef, Mandarin Pancakes and Chinese Pearls. It was all very good, the beef melting on your tongue, the Chinese Pearl in quaint small crispy cups.

But the high point of the evening came when Matt insisted we order the Fried Yuki Sushi, and, because he couldn't pick between the one or the other, the Crispy Salmon Tuna Sushi as well. I was in love! Crispy outside, moist and fresh inside.

delicious Crispy Salmon Tuna Sushi and Fried Yuki Sushi at Nooch in Amsterdam

It was a great experience. The friendly staff, the excellent and affordable food and the wonderful location in the charming 9 Little Streets are all good reasons to make a return visit.

Amsterdam restaurant Nooch from the outsideNooch
Reestraat 11
1016 DM Amsterdam

www.nooch.nl

23Nov/102

Lovely Brix in the Wolvenstraat

So I was studying my heart out for exams a few weeks ago and Levi decided I deserved a treat and took me out to dinner at Brix in the Wolvenstraat in the Nine Little Streets area in Amsterdam. We were in luck, because when we called to make a reservation, there had just been a cancellation. If that hadn't been the case, we would have had a snowball's chance in hell of getting a table here on a Saturday night!

inside Brix in the Nine Little Streets in Amsterdam

Writing this after having had dinner there, I can fully understand its popularity. The ambiance is great. Modern, classy, yet cosy, with an exposed brick wall, comfortable seating and smoked glass mirrors in the back. The tables weren't crowding the space, as seems usual in Dutch restaurants. There was room to walk, to breathe and to have your own conversation whilst not being forced listen to other people's conversations. I enjoyed the smooth jazzy music that was playing softly in the background.

The girls serving us were great! Informal, friendly, attentive and fast. What I love about Brix' menu, is that it contains starters only, which makes it possible to sample more than one dish. Levi confessed he'd never had snails before, so I got him those. Furthermore, I chose the black pasta and Levi got the entrecote.

The snails were a bit disappointing. They were not scalding hot, like they are supposed to be, and tepid snails... well, they're just not the same. That's what comes of using a metal dish instead of an earthenware one, it cools off quicker. I loved that there was enough garlic butter to let the snails swim, but the bread that should have been fresh and crunchy on the outside, while being soft and fluffy on the inside, was... toast. And slightly stale toast at that. I can't soak hard, stale toast in garlic butter! That's not how things should be.

Glorious black pasta
But the black spaghetti with the sauce made of Dutch shrimps made up for the snails. It was divine. Black food, it seems odd. It feels 'off' to order it, but my, my, my was this worth the trouble. There were pieces of octopus which had been preserved in fat and there was samphire. It all went together so well and the sauce was so incredibly rich and delicious.

Levi's entrecote was not half bad either. The taste of the meat was pure and it was tender. It came with a simple salad and a lovely, waxy baked potato. Upon the arrival of his dish, he wasn't sure if it was going to be enough, him being a man after all, and having a man's appetite, but there was plenty of meat on his board.

Both sort of having had enough, we decided to share a dessert, instead of each getting our own. We asked the nice girl if the chocolate pie was any good, and as she nodded vehemently, we decided to go for it. No regrets there! It came with homemade blueberry icecream, which was delicious in itself. But that chocolate pie, it was as chocolate pies should be. Rich, velvety, intensely dark and pure. So worth the 6 euro! The only thing I regretted was having agreed to share.

The sign at the entrance of Brix in the Wolvenstraat in AmsterdamThe food is very affordable and the location, right in the center of Amsterdam, is great too. Definitely a place to remember and come back to! I saw on their website that they are now open for lunch too. It also says there are live jazz sessions two nights a week.

Brix
Wolvenstraat 16
1016EP Amsterdam
www.cafebrix.nl

28Oct/101

Chinese chicken and squid at Nam Kee

Chinese restaurant Nam Kee on the Zeedijk in AmsterdamI probably have already told you that New King is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Amsterdam. It seems I am not the only person who thinks their food is good, as on a Wednesday evening me and my girlfriend Nina could not get a table on any of the three floors! We were told we would have to wait for about half an hour. We were quite hungry. Waiting that long was not an option, so we went to Nam Kee down the street.

We were in luck, a couple of people were just leaving and we were able to get a table at this newly refurbished (ugly grey faux-bricks on the walls) Chinese classic. There's a Dutch movie (after the novel by Kees van Beijnum) with national celebrity Katja Schuurman and the then not so famous Egbert Jan Weber (whose star is on the rise as we speak), named after an oyster dish from this restaurant (Oesters van Nam Kee, which translates to: Oysters at Nam Kee's).

Nina ordered the ti pan chicken dish with seasonal greens. Ti pan means the food is prepared in a cast iron dish, and is served, sizzling hot, on that same dish, placed on a wooden coaster. I selected the dry fried squid (without the chili peppers) from the extensive menu. We got some white rice and shrimp crackers (kroepoek) to go with that. Nina had a beer and I had Chinese tea.

Generous portions, great food
The food was great. The squid was fresh, not too chewy, and very tasty. The chicken was soft, the greens (Chinese broccoli and baby Pak soi) were fresh and crunchy, and complemented the chicken very well. The plate with shrimp crackers was heaped high. That's the way we like it!

hologram stickers in a raindeer. Très chi-chiWe were so hungry that by the time I thought of taking a picture of our food, we had already devoured most of it. I do however have this amusing little tidbit of interior decoration for you. Traditionally, cherrywood tables, inlaid with intricate patterns in mother of pearl are the epitomy of chic. But this is not mother of pearl. It seems to be... a hologram sticker? And if you notice the motif, it isn't very chic either! It looks like it's Christmas every day at Nam Kee.

Worth repeating
All in all, dinner at Nam Kee was a very good experience. Affordable too, between the two of us the bill came to 30 euro. I think I may be convinced to come here more often, and New King doesn't even have to be full for me to consider it!

Nam Kee currently has two locations in Amsterdam. Another location is to open soon on the Marie Heinekenplein. We went to the one on the Zeedijk (address below), which is open every day from noon until 11pm. See the website for the other locations and opening hours.

Nam Kee
Zeedijk 111-113
1012 AV Amsterdam

www.namkee.net