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After a day at the show...28th of April 2014
After a long day at ISSA/INTERCLEAN you will probably want to head for the city centre and sample some of the city’s many excellent restaurants and bars.
Whether you are looking for good food, a great atmosphere or a typically Dutch experience, Ann Laffeaty suggests 10 places to spend your Amsterdam evenings with colleagues or clients.
Pasta e Basta
The name literally means: ”Pasta – and that’s it”, but this restaurant cannot be defined by its pasta alone. No: it’s the fact that the waiters and waitresses are ready to sing at the drop of a hat that makes a visit to Pasta e Basta an unforgettable experience. Place your order and then sit back and wait for the show to begin. There seems to be no accounting for the periodic renditions of anything from opera to classics to pop songs from the waiting staff.
No doubt it would become a little tiresome if you had to sit through an operetta when you simply wanted your bill, but it’s all in good fun and the singing creates a convivial atmosphere among the diners. Previous guests have included George Benson, Mariah Carey, Sting and the great Luciano Pavarotti, so the singing must be pretty good. The fixed price of €37 includes antipasti and pasta and though the menu is fairly limited, the food is of good quality. Options include lasagna bolognese with roasted pumpkin; risotto with baked mushrooms, and cheese-filled ravioli with fried garlic and sage.
Pasta e Basta, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8?1017 DE Amsterdam
Open 18:00 to midnight, seven days a week
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (11 stops, 14 minutes). Leave the tram at Keizersgracht and the restaurant is an eight-minute walk.
Eten Bij MIj
Eten Bij MIj is an unusual concept and ideal for groups seeking a traditional Dutch experience in a semi-domestic setting. The name literally means “Eat at my place” and this is the ambience that chef Michiel Stoffels is going for. The ‘restaurant’ caters only for groups of up 30 and all party members are seated together at one long table.
Prices start at €38 a head for a three-course meal including wine, beer and soft drinks. The menu can be tailored to the party’s requirements, but starters may include steak tartare or steamed artichokes while typical main courses could be sirloin of beef, rack of lamb or wild mushroom risotto.
There are few reviews online for this relatively new eatery, but if you are planning a night out with clients it could be a novel way of entertaining them without blowing your budget. For more information go to Michiel’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/etenbijmij.
Eten Bij MIj, Albert Cuypstraat 91, 1072 CP Amsterdam
Open: by arrangement with chef
Directions from the RAI: after a 12-minute walk to Scheldestraat, take the 12 tram (two stops). Leave at Sloterdijk Station and from there it is a four-minute walk.
Voted the Netherlands’ best café by a Dutch trade magazine in 2013, Café Hoppe is a typical ‘brown bar’ with a reputation for spontaneous parties. It was established in 1670 and the oldest part of the Hoppe is a national monument that has been unchanged for centuries. In fact stepping into the wood-panelled interior with its oak barrels and sawdust floors is like stepping back in time.
Besides its friendly staff, eclectic mix of customers and traditional décor, the Café Hoppe is renowned for its bitterballen - a traditional Dutch meatball dish served with mustard and sauerkraut. Another good reason for ISSA/INTERCLEAN visitors to go to the Café Hoppe is because this is where it all began. Café Hoppe was where two window cleaners in the 1960s came up with the idea for a major Amsterdam cleaning show over a glass of Dutch genever.
Café Hoppe, Spui 18-20, 1012 XA Amsterdam
Open: 08:00-01:00 Sunday-Thursday, 08:00-02:00 Friday and Saturday
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein, take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (13 stops, 18 minutes). Leave at Spui (Rokin) and the restaurant is three minutes’ walk.
Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen
The English translation of this restaurant – Five Flies – is even more off-putting than its unwieldy Dutch name. But write it down and keep it to hand if you are looking for a restaurant with Dutch authenticity seeping from every corner. And corners there are aplenty in this rabbit-warren of an eatery made up of nine inter-connecting rooms from five 17th century houses.
Dutch heritage is proudly displayed in every room and each has a unique character; the Rembrandt Room contains four original etchings from the renowned Dutch artist, for instance, while a huge collection of Delft Blue tiles can be seen in the Mother Hendrinaroom.
Prices for the tasting menu with wine range from €79.50 to €99.50 per head depending on whether you opt for four, five or six courses. If wine is not required then prices begin at a much more affordable €45.95. A la carte starters (between €16 and €20) include crispy eel, roasted tuna and veal fillet confit while main courses (€24-€28) include grouse with celeriac; fillet of lamb and cod in mustard.
Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen, Spuistraat 294-302, Amsterdam 1012VX
Open: 18:00 to 22:00, seven days a week
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (13 stops, 18 minutes). Leave at Spui (Rokin) and the restaurant is four minutes walk.
As the name suggests this establishment dates back to, well, 1890 and is billed as a “neighbourhood-style pub outside the usual tourist spots”. It offers good draught beer, attentive staff and a range of dishes including cheese fondue, veal liver and ribs, all of which typically cost between €16 and €20. For under five Euros you can also choose from an extensive range
Café 1890 is the place to go for an authentic ‘local’ experience - it is a fun, lively and bustling place with a warm atmosphere plus food and drink at reasonable prices. It is also open very late if you happen to be staying on in Amsterdam for the weekend.
Café 1890 , Amstelveenseweg 1124, Amsterdam
Open: All day and till 01.00 on weekdays; 03.00 Fridays and Saturdays
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 62 Bus towards Station Lelylaan (12 stops, 16 minutes). Leave the bus at Bolestein and Café 1890 is a five-minute walk.
Ctaste is one of a growing number of restaurants worldwide where diners are served in a darkened room by visually-impaired waiters. It makes for an interesting experience, though perhaps not the best option when networking or entertaining clients. A three-course dinner costs €39.50 and for obvious reasons there is no menu to choose from – dishes are simply selected by the chefs based on their interesting flavours and aromatic smells.
If you prefer you can opt for the wine and beer package which allows you to sample three wines and beers (again in the dark) paired with canapés.
Ctaste, Amsteldijk 55, 1074 HX Amsterdam
Open: Wednesday-Saturday, 16.30 till late and from 11.00 on Sundays
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (6 stops, 8 minutes). Leave the tram at Lutmastraat and the restaurant is a six-minute walk.
If you are looking for traditional Dutch surroundings and a friendly welcome for your not-too-large party, then look no further. This tiny bar – allegedly the smallest in Amsterdam – feels crowded even when filled with only a dozen people, but its cosiness means that everyone talks to one another. Het doktertje (The Doctor’s) is as the name suggests a former doctor’s surgery,
and to prove the point an ancient medical bag hangs from the dusty old light fittings.
And dust is in plentiful supply in this quirky bar from the 1790s which is reminiscent of a spooky film-set complete with cobwebs hanging from the lamps. The bar is now run by the doctor’s descendants and is characterised by friendly staff and ever-present jazz music. Besides mouth-watering steaks and salads the bar also serves up good beers, local liquors and malt whisky.
Het doktertje , Rozenboomsteeg 4, Amsterdam 1012PR
Open: Tue-Sat, 16:00-01:00
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (13 stops, 18 minutes). Leave at Spui (Rokin) and the bar is a two-minute walk.
“Anything can happen at the Supperclub” boasts the venue’s website – and not all of it good according to some patrons. But no-one can deny that Amsterdam’s Supperclub is an experience to remember. This novel restaurant-cum-club has no dining tables; instead guests are invited to kick off their shoes and loll on oversized beds where they eat reclining in Roman-style decadence.
They are visited periodically by staff who serve them food and drinks and provide belly-dancing displays and other entertainment. Diners may also be offered a foot massage (at an extra cost).
Those who love the Supperclub will feel as though they have wandered into some bohemian 1960s film, while others may feel as though they have been forced to share a dormitory with a bunch of noisy, party-loving strangers. The music is loud and the entertainment can be extraordinary – one diner likened it to an S&M show –and the relaxed bed concept becomes a little less relaxed when the venue is overcrowded.
Dinner costs €69 and comprises five courses made up of “unconventional cuisine from all the reaches of the world”, but the fact that everyone dines together at 8pm adds to the illusion that this is one big hedonistic party rather than just another restaurant serving food to isolated groups.
Supperclub Amsterdam, Jonge Roelensteeg 21?1012 PL Amsterdam
Open: 19.30-0100, Sunday-Thursday
Directions from the RAI: after a two-minute walk to Europaplein take the 4 tram towards Centraal Station (14 stops, 23 minutes). Leave the tram at Dam Square and the Supperclub is a four-minute walk.
Brouwerij t ij
What could be more typically Dutch than a windmill? Or beer? You can (almost) combine the two at Brouwerij t ij, said to be Amsterdam’s oldest brewery. Situated next to the De Gooyer Windmill, this is a bar-within-a-microbrewery where the beers are served up fresh from tanks. There is a large terrace with long tables for outdoor drinking, and inside the walls are lined with what is said to be one of the biggest beer bottle collections in the world.
If you are staying on for the weekend after the show you may want to take a pre-bookable brewery tour on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Alternatively you can simply drop in for a drink or opt for the five-beer tasting package which costs around eight euros. Wine and soft drinks are available and snacks include fresh peanuts, boiled eggs, abbey-made cheese and salami.
Brouwerij t ij , Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam
Open: 19.30-0100 daily
Directions from the RAI: walk to RAI Station, Amsterdam About 7 minutes. Take the M51 subway towards Centraal Station. Alight at Weesperplein and walk for two minutes to the number 10 tram stop. Take the Azartplein tram to Hoogte Kadijk. Brouwerij t ij is around a minute’s walk.
+31 (0)20 622 8325
This restaurant, not to be confused with the coffee house of the same name, receives excellent online reviews and is also the personal recommendation of ECJ’s Dutch correspondent. It specialises in tasting menus which are said to be sublime, though not for the ravenous.
The sum of €100 will buy you seven dishes with matching wines while the nine-dish option will set you back an extra €20. A la carte options include pan-fried scallops with dill and roasted hazelnuts; caramelised veal sweetbreads, or risotto with garden herbs and Canadian lobster, each of which cost around €20-€25.
Screaming Beans also takes particular pride in its coffee, which is filtered at the table.
Screaming Beans, Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat 35
Open: 08.30-midnight, closed on Mondays
Directions from the RAI: walk to Amsterdam, Scheldestraat (around 12 minutes). Take the 2 Tram towards Station Sloterdijk (12 minutes, 7 stops). Leave the tram at Overtoom and Screaming Beans is a one-minute walk.