We love getting emails and comments from our readers with questions and suggestions and we do get quite a few. Nonetheless the one we received a while back immediately made our hearts beat faster. It came from a reporter at the New York Times.
He and his partner had found Dutchgrub while scoping out restaurants for an upcoming trip to Amsterdam. And liked our recommendations enough to get in touch and suggest lunch together. We had a great time at Gartine, one of our Best Amsterdam Brunch Places, talking about how Dutchgrub started, lunches of sliced bread and slices of cheese from Albert Heijn, our thoughts on the improving Amsterdam restaurant scene and much more. In the end we persuaded them to go to Wilde Zwijnen, a recent addition to our Best Amsterdam Restaurants list.
It was great fun, but best of all this all turned into a brilliant article well worth reading: Returning Zing to Dutch Cooking.
Traditionally, many Amsterdam restaurants have closed over the Christmas days, New Year’s Eve and New Years. And many still do, although more and more people are looking to go out on those occasions.
Since we get many requests for suggestions, we have done a little research and found some nice options for Christmas. New Year’s is a bit harder. We are still looking into it and will post suggestions if we can find any good ones.
So without further ado, here are some great options for dining out in Amsterdam on Christmas:
- Restaurant Worst, Marius’ little brother, is organising a lunch cum movie showing on December 24th. The idea is a communal table, starting at 12:45 with snacks and culminating in a main of wild boar served buffet style. After the lunch the food movie “Babette’s Feast” will be shown. Cost is between € 30,= and € 50,= depending on whether you stay for the movie and prefer to dine at Marius or Worst. See deworst.nl/verhalen for details.
- Très French Bistrot Neuf, one of the few restaurants in Amsterdam open 7 days a week, is open on December 24th, 25th and 26th also, and serving a menu op various Christmas favourites including Partridge with champagne sauerkraut, Beef Wellington, whole lobster and many others. See bistrotneuf.nl/documents/Kerstmenu2012.pdf for the full menu.
- And finally, very popular pop-up lunch turned soul food restaurant lovefood will be open on Christmas Day, December 25th, from 14:00 to 17:00 and serve a roast organic turkey. Details are on their Facebook page.
Happy holidays and make sure you make a reservation for any of these as soon as possible!
Our Best Amsterdam Restaurants list doesn’t change frequently. In fact, since its start four years ago, counting four restaurants, only two restaurants were added while one had to be dropped. Today it’s time for another addition, bringing the total of restaurants on the list to six.
The lucky newcomer is Wilde Zwijnen, a rising star in up and coming Amsterdam Oost (East), that has impressed us – and others – with its rugged chic, ambitious menu and perfect execution on multiple occasions.
See below for details or check out our updated Best Amsterdam Restaurant list.
Javaplein 23 hs
1095 CJ amsterdam
Open Tuesday – Sunday
Public Transport: Trams 14 to Javaplein.
Price: €70 per person
Australians are renowned all over the world for their friendly laid-back attitude. So that’s what we expected when deciding to try Little Collins, a small brunch place and cafe run by Aussies Charlotte and Georgina. And we certainly were not disappointed!
There’s a friendly atmosphere all around – a happy voice on the other end of the line when making the reservation, a warm hello upon entering the cafe, a modern but warm interior design and all the favorites from mimosas to muesli on the menu. Even our group of picky eaters requiring extra large coffees, spinach on the side or caramelized onions omitted were no match for the good mood of the waitress.
Even though we could hardly wait to try Stan’s bangers and mash, we were quickly won over, lowered pace a few notches and decided to start with a few cocktails. And Little Collins came through on multiple fronts, good execution on classic Bloody Mary and interesting flavors in a Tokyo version with rice vinegar and wasabi.
We were equally happy about the food, and for the same reasons. The classic comfort food dishes like sausages and eggs in several variations are no frills but well executed. The classics are spiced up by less standard concoctions like kedgeree (smoked mackerel and saffron rice) or coriander and corn fritters. And the menu is rounded off by the “big one” – sausage, eggs, beans and more for the hungry Aussies.
1e Sweelinckstraat 19-F
1073 CL Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 6732293
Public Transport: Trams 4, 7, 10, 25 to Stadhouderskade or tram 3 to Ceintuurbaan
Neighborhood: De Pijp
Asian cuisine in Amsterdam is very much dominated by Indonesian and Thai restaurants. To the point where it’s hard to find a good Chinese, available on each corner in many other large European cities. So we were very excited when we learned about a Vietnamese restaurant having opened doors.
Xinh is located just off the corner of Elandsgracht and Prinsengracht, in one of those locations that have become known for failing restaurants, having seen a series of bad restaurants going out of business, most recently Waldorf. Xinh did a great job of giving the inside a very different look, sparsely lit, coolish with a touch of 70s atmosphere.
Xinh has both an a la carte menu as well as a three course tasting menu. There are few surprises on the menu but all the Vietnamese favorites such as summer rolls, grilled meat on a stick, Vietnamese crepes, Pho, or dancing beef. The tasting menu is a good choice for those not very familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. It starts out with a fresh salad with shrimps and chilli sauce, and then as main has a combination of dancing beef, lemongrass chicken and caramel pork.
The highlight of our dinner was probably dessert, where we were allowed to switch the banana pudding for ice cream, one of which was durian flavor. At that point we briefly felt like being in Asia!
We weren’t blown away but liked it enough to come back. And we don’t think it will go out of business soon!
1016 TV Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 6240308
Public Transport: Trams 13, 14, 17 to Westermarkt or trams 1, 2, 5 to Spui
We have complained many times about the poor state of food stores in Amsterdam, dominated by dreaded Albert Heijn supermarkets. With the online options even more limited we often ended up zigzagging all across town to get the ingredients we wanted in many small specialty stores.
A few weeks ago we discovered online grocery store ruudmaaz.nl which quickly has changed all that!
ruudmaaz.nl is a small operation with a big dream. The name is a play on “duurzaam”, Dutch for sustainable, as Ruud Maaz is set on providing Amsterdammers with an easy way to order the tastiest foods from local producers and entirely without plastic packaging.
The basics seemed well covered. Delivery is next day during a two hour time window in the evening. The selection is great and we quickly managed to put the minimum of € 50,= worth of groceries into our shopping cart and place our first order.
The arrival of our food certainly was a happy moment. Being used to delivery by a grumpy and sweaty Albert Heijn kid, the tone was set when the delivery team rang the door bell with a big smile. It was obvious that they were completely sold on the sustainable idea and proud of the tasty groceries they had in their bag. Everything was delivered right into the kitchen which looked like we had just gotten back from the farmer’s market.
There was milk and yogurt in glass bottles from local dairy producer Weerribben Zuivel, fresh fish from Fishes who also have a store in Amsterdam, smoked salmon from our favorite Frank’s Smokehouse, individually packaged sausages and organic chicken from Amsterdam based butcher De Wit, a whole week’s supply of seasonal local fruit and much more. Basically it was like all of our favorite shops had huddled together and sent us a great package of their best foods!
We’ve quickly adopted placing orders regularly and hope that ruudmaaz.nl continues to expand while maintaining the small scale spirit!