After a long love affair with all things foreign, Amsterdam's chefs have been rediscovering the simple joys of the Netherlands' native cuisine. Some serve traditional staples such as stamppot and draadjesvlees in all their Ye Old Dutch glory, while others offer a new take on traditional dishes and various restaurants have reinterpreted the very definition of Dutch food by using regional products and old-fashioned ingredients in brand new ways.
This centrally-located restaurant near Waterlooplein flea market was designed to look like a traditional Dutch dining room. A picture of Greetje–the owner's mom– takes pride of place, and Delft blue motifs, crystal chandeliers, fresh flowers, candles, and dark wood add atmosphere. Restaurant Greetje (Peperstraat 23-25) knows how to tantalize patrons with a taste of the good old days, yet manages to keep things fresh by giving dishes a refreshingly modern twist or presentation.
Restaurant De Kas
Dine where your food is grown at Restaurant De Kas (Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3), a light and airy converted hothouse surrounded by the historic Frankendael Park in Amsterdam's Watergraafsmeer neighborhood. Here, you'll be treated to a fixed menu (3 courses) of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables from the restaurant's very own market garden and greenhouse. This may be Dutch food with a distinct Mediterranean touch, but the organic ingredients are practically grown on the restaurant's doorstep. What could be more local?
Restaurant Wilde Zwijnen
Out in far Oost, in the up-and-coming Indische Buurt neighborhood, Wilde Zwijnen (Javaplein 23) takes a walk on the wild side with its hearty yet refined food in a setting that combines raw industrial elements and recycled finds with sleek modern features. Quirky details include a wall made of building materials from the site’s renovation, old stable doors for tables and a concrete floor. Their menu usually features at least some pork, which is not surprising considering that the restaurant's name translates as ‘wild boars’ and great for lovers of game meats. Recent dishes include wild Beemster duck breast, stuffed with chanterelle mushrooms and served with duck leg, celeriac puree and two types of braised cabbage, baked pike perch and slavink filled with sauerkraut and served with a grainy mustard sauce, and a dessert of hangop with apple syrup and caramelized Jonagold apples.
Budget-Friendly Bites in Amsterdam
Tucked away in the Taksteeg–a little alley between the Rokin and busy Kalverstraat shopping street in Amsterdam–is a shrine to slow food. The proprietors of Gartine (Taksteeg 7) grow their own fruit and vegetables in an allotment, and use excellent bread from It-bakery Vlaamsch Broodhuys and plenty of regional delicacies that appear on Slow Food's Ark of Taste, an official list of protected Dutch heritage products. This is the ideal place in Amsterdam's busy shopping district to enjoy a relaxed breakfast, lunch or high tea, served with love and care on vintage crockery. Typical menu items include partridge paté served with nutty fig bread and poached pears with star anise (€8,75) or a multigrain roll with four-year old Boeren oplegkaas (a raw milk aged artisanal Gouda cheese) with pumpkin cream sauce (€6.95)
You haven't completed your Dutch Food experience without eating a broodje kroket, a soft white bun with a deep-fried croquette and mustard, at Van Dobben. Stick with a classic, such as a veal croquette or shrimp croquette, before exploring other flavors like chicken satay or goulash. Van Dobben proves that you don't have to break the bank for a quintessentially Dutch lunch. Another premium brand to look out for is Holtkamp, especially for the patisserie's shrimp croquettes. Holtkamp croquettes are available at these restaurants and cafes.
For more budget fast food options, try the famous Flemish fries at Vleminckx Sausmeesters (Voetboogstraat 31), nestled in a side street of Amsterdam's main shopping drag. And on the healthier end of the fast food spectrum, sample the city's answer to sushi, its beloved brined herring. Particularly good are herring stands De Boer on Osdorpplein (Wednesdays to Saturdays), Kromhout on the corner of the Singel and the Raadhuisstraat and Kees Tol at the top of the Overtoom.
Chosen by Time Out Amsterdam magazine's readers as the Best Dutch Restaurant in 2009, Moeders (which means 'mothers' in Dutch) is a tribute to 'your mother's cooking', assuming, of course, that your mom was from the Netherlands. It's an eclectic little place, decorated with hundreds of photos of patrons' mothers, mismatched tableware, and warm dark brown wood. Typical dishes include a budget-friendly daily stamppot and draadjesvlees with boiled potatoes and red cabbage. Cheap and cheerful, Moeders (Rozengracht 251) is the ideal spot to take your mom or to hang out if you're homesick. Another budget-friendly option for local and regional dishes is La Falote (Roelof Hartstraat 26 IV), where they serve meals like boerenkoolstamppot (mashed potatoes with curly kale and sausage) and sudderlapjes met witlof (stewed meat with Belgian endive) for under €10.
Decadent Dutch Dining
Situated in a historic building just outside Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District, Restaurant Lastage (Geldersekade 29) uses classic French cooking techniques to recreate delicious Dutch specialties in a classy environment that feels neither stiff nor overly informal. Chef Rogier van Dam (formerly of Michelin-starred De Posthoorn in Monnickendam) describes his cooking style as simple and traditional but isn't afraid of a little innovation. His philosophy is superbly demonstrated in dishes such as sea bass marinated in gin, with romesco, mozzarella, and watercress coulis, and a yummy stroopwafel parfait with blueberries, Haagse bluf, and lemon cream. A wonderful recommend is the house wine, Cuvee Lastage, a crisp and elegant verdicchio with almond and green fruit flavors. Lastage was awarded a Michelin star in early 2012.
Set in a former monastic chapel, the restaurant's organic shape and idyllic garden setting–complete with chickens roaming freely outside–hint that this is a temple to 'seasonal cooking'. But while that term has become bandied about a bit of late, it only takes one taste of the chef's seemingly simple creations to have complete faith in his skills. This kitchen is clearly ruled by someone who understands the art of letting his ingredients do the talking. Chef Sander Overeinder has worked at revered restaurants such as Vermeer (Amsterdam), De Karmeliet (Bruges) and Chez Panisse (California). Later, he was a founder of Summum and Club 11 in Amsterdam. His cooking style is characterized by his use of seasonal, organic, local ingredients, such as organic meat from Baambrugge and Maartensdijk and forgotten vegetables such as turnip-rooted parsley, Jerusalem artichoke, and black salsify, grown in nearby Osdorp. The interior is as pure as the food, with long monastic tables, ideal for communal dining.
The saucer-shaped restaurant in Amsterdam South (Prinses Irenestraat 19) is well worth going out of your way for. In fact, cut through the park and it's a nice bike trip, too.
Restaurant Blue Pepper
The important culinary influence of Indo-Dutch cuisine is showcased at the Indonesian restaurant Blue Pepper (Nassaukade 366); there, you can sample something you won't find all that easily outside of The Netherlands, the rijsttafel–a celebratory spread of dozens of exotic dishes invented by the Dutch in Colonial Indonesia. The rijsttafel here includes up to 25 typical Indo-Dutch dishes, such as rendang, four types of satay and otak-otak. And, because you share the bounty with your dinner companions, it's a fun way to dine. But what makes Blue Pepper different from all those other kitschy Indonesian eateries is its peaceful minimalist decor, professional service, and high standard of cooking. And with its conveniently central location near the Jordaan and Leidseplein, there's no reason not to visit. Bring your appetite, because rijsttafel doesn't get better or more luxurious than this. Blauw (Amstelveenseweg 158/160)–confusingly also with 'blue' in the title–is a wonderful alternative.
While a little off the beaten track, the restaurant serves authentic (and delicious) Indonesian cuisine in a hip setting.
Restaurant 'd Vijf Vlieghen
Yes, it's touristy, but Restaurant ‘d Vijf Vlieghen (Spuistraat 294-302) manages to capture the splendor of the Dutch Golden Age with its over-the-top decor, which includes four Rembrandt etchings, rare 17th-century handmade glassware, and armor from the Eighty Years War. The restaurant’s name may translate to ‘the five flies’, but that's no reflection on the food or hygiene. The kitchen specializes in updating old-fashioned dishes for the modern palate using local, seasonal ingredients and organic vegetables, a style that is often referred to as ‘the New Dutch Kitchen’. A typical dish is crispy fried veal sweetbreads with stewed cheek of veal with watercress, kohlrabi and smoked butter mousseline. There's also a Dutch cheese plate with apple syrup and currant rye bread and French toast of Frisian sugar loaf with boerenjongens ice cream and homemade cardamom-infused advocaat. The restaurant also offers over 150 genevers and liqueurs to choose from.