I recently visited Amsterdam for a long weekend and absolutely loved it. Staying near the beautiful Oosterpark, we rented bikes, drank great beer and just spent time getting lost in central Amsterdam, walking up and down canals and over bridges, mesmerised by the rows and rows of surreal architecture.
When we weren’t doing that, we were stuffing our faces with pancakes, chips, life-changing stroopwafel, €16 cocktails, dim sum, cheese and one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Probably a good thing we rented those bikes.
For anyone thinking of travelling to Amsterdam for a long weekend, here is my food and drink guide to the city.
This place is lovely. We headed there for breakfast on our first full day, having passed it on the tram the day before. They do natural wine, cocktails and beer but they also do amazing brunch such as The Kater Breakfast Sandwich – an in-house Italian sausage patty with crispy bacon, housemade hash brown, a fried egg, cheese and Box Sociaal ketchup in a pretzel bun. Certainly not your standard egg and bacon bap. It’s packed with moreish, crispy, herbacious flavours and textures and was washed down with freshly-squeezed orange juice. Choose a seat by the front windows and watch the world go by.
Plantage Middenlaan 30A, 1018 DG Amsterdam | http://www.boxsociaal.com
Bakers and Roasters
Four words: be prepared to queue. As a native Londoner, queueing for brunch comes naturally, however, the queueing system for New Zealand-style cafe Bakers and Roasters was SO efficient. After leaving them with our phone number, all of a sudden we could access a timer that told us how much waiting time we had left. Despite the fact that this did overrun (by 15 minutes) we had a lovely stroll around the surrounding neighbourhood before we finally headed inside, sat down and tucked into a stack of American banana pancakes topped with blueberry, banana and maple syrup (with an option to add bacon). It was totally worth it.
Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54, 1072 BH Amsterdam | http://www.bakersandroasters.com
Who says you can’t go to the beach in October?! Take the free ferry to north Amsterdam and explore the NDSM Wharf where amongst street art and studios in shipping containers, you’ll find Pllek – an events space, restaurant and bar facing onto a beach. As you can imagine, people flock here in the summer but in the cooler months, it’s equally as lovely on a sunny day, as you can bask in the sunshine whilst wrapped up in a coat and scarf or head inside where it’s warm, cosy and full of sofas (they also light fires in the evenings). We had a drink at neighbouring cafe Noorderlicht before heading over to Pllek for lunch. A glass of white wine went down very well with their large plate of falafel, baba ganoush, pomegrante, marinated beets, soy yoghurt labneh with lime and za’atar, tomato salsa, onion and parsley and grilled flatbread. Whilst boasting an impressive menu of vegetarian options, Pllek are also passionate about knowing where their meat comes from and they serve a delicious smoked wild boar sausage with sauerkraut, piccalilli mayonnaise and crispy onions on a toasted sesame sandwich. Post-meal, finish your wine on one of their comfortable outdoor loungers on the beach and enjoy the view.
T.T. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB Amsterdam | http://www.pllek.nl
Amsterdam’s well-known food hall is brimming with pintxos, tacos, seafood, pâtisserie, pizza, burgers, baos and more, all surrounding a huge bar. We got a dim sum platter for two served in a giant steamer, from Dim Sum Thing – lots of gyoza, wonton, and steamed/deep fried dumplings. At peak times it can get quite busy, so get there early to secure a table for your spread of street food.
Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam | http://www.foodhallen.nl
This place is magical and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The menu changes every couple of weeks and consists a cocktail of the day, five different hors d’oeuvre, the choice between a meat or fish dish and then a dessert – and that’s what you’re served. I really enjoy restaurant experiences like this as it’s all about giving yourself over to letting the chef decide what you’ll be eating for dinner – it’s opportunities like this that both allow you to try new things (that you wouldn’t normally order) and alleviate the stress of having to make any decisions! The restaurant itself is warm, glowing and cosy with candles and hanging naked bulbs. It’s definitely a tight squeeze but that adds to its charm. You’re very aware of everything that’s going on around you, from watching the waiters and waitresses prepare the hors d’oeuvre at one station and pour the drinks at another, to the solo chef in the open kitchen. It emanates a homely feel with pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and the waiters and waitresses pop in now and then to help with bits and bobs.
Our menu for the night consisted of the following hors d’oeuvre: toast with tuna, bonito flakes and cocoa, veal tongue with spring onions and fried garlic, green asparagus with egg and anchovy butter, radish with harissa and fennel seed and croûte filled with mushrooms and roquefort. It all arrived on a dainty, raised silver platter with warm sliced sourdough bread served beneath it (with delicious butter on the side). It took up most of the space on our table and we picked and nibbled at things whilst sipping on red wine. For our main course we both chose the duck with potato stewed in red port, with almond sauce and roasted chicory. The duck was succulent and the potato had a desirable cheesiness to it and together with the creamy, nuttiness of the sauce and the mellow bitterness of the chicory, every mouthful was divine. After seeing how much we enjoyed it, a waiter even offered us another piece of bread, so we could soak up every last bit. Dessert was a chestnut cake with Italian meringue and hazelnut and it was such a lovely finale to a meal I just never wanted to end.
Elandsgracht 108, 1016 VA Amsterdam | http://www.balthazarskeuken.nl
To keep you going
You can’t go to Amsterdam without getting chips – it’s usually a 3am Chipsy King after a night out but our chips were a little bit more civilised. Head over to Kingfisher Cafe for some beers and order the chips, mayo and ketchup as a snack. Salty and vinegary, the mayo is addictive – be prepared to ask for a second helping.
Ferdinand Bolstraat 24, 1072 LK Amsterdam | http://www.kingfishercafe.nl
Albert Cuyp Market is known as THE place to go for warm freshly-made stroopwafel – two thin, circular waffles stuck together with a layer of sticky, gooey caramel. Having only ever eaten pre-made, cold stroopwafel from a tin, my expectations were exceeded – enormously. If you can only do one thing in Amsterdam, make it this. There is nothing like paying €1.50 then being handed a warm, caramel waffle to nibble on as you meander your way through the market.
Albert Cuypstraat, 1073 CC Amsterdam | http://www.albertcuyp-markt.amsterdam
Old Amsterdam Cheese Shop
These are everywhere in central Amsterdam and you should definitely check them out – they have lots of free cheese samples within the shop. I repeat – FREE. CHEESE.
Central Amsterdam | http://www.oldamsterdamcheesestore.com
Sister bar to Balthazar’s Keuken, Bar Parry is a chic, neighbourhood wine bar where you can go for an apéritif and some bar snacks before dinner. They also serve you complimentary crisps and salsa with your drinks.
Eerste Looiersdwarsstraat 15, 1107 SN Amsterdam | http://www.barparry.nl
Right opposite Oosterpark, we came here on our first night for beers and charcuterie. Sit outside amongst greenery or head indoors and check out the cool, art deco interior. Fancy a cocktail? Head next door to Henry’s Bar.
Oosterpark 10, 1092 AE Amsterdam | http://www.barbukowski.nl
It’s a classic speakeasy-style, secret bar which you’d definitely walk past presuming it was shut, however, ring the doorbell and wait to be let in. They’ll have a table ready for you and the service is impeccable. Yes the cocktails are €16 but it’s reflective of the craftsmanship that goes into their creation and the fact that this is a place to escape the outside world, sit back and relax and chat for as long as you want to, as the drinks do, understandably, take a while to make. The cocktail menu changes regularly and on this occasion, I went for a concoction consisting of carrot juice, gin, maple and rosemary.
Elandsgracht 84, 1016 TZ Amsterdam | http://www.bar-oldenhof.com
A great selection of local beers on tap from breweries such as Oedipus and Brouwerij ‘t IJ. At night, all the other surrounding bars spill out onto the street and it’s a really warm, convivial atmosphere. The perfect opportunity to bar hop, which is exactly what we did.
Eerste van der Helststraat 37, 1073 AC Amsterdam | https://www.cafeflamingo.nl
A canal side bar in a former car park. Just pop in for great beer and snacks such as nachos and bitterballen or stay for lunch/dinner. It’s a sun trap with lots of hubbub and you can sit and watch the boats go past.
Marnixstraat 246, 1016 TL Amsterdam | http://www.waterkantamsterdam.nl