Three fine meals in Amsterdam
1. Vis aan de Schelde
Vis aan de Schelde is one of Amsterdam’s leading fish restaurants. Even so, we were a bit surprised, our first night in town, to find it 90% full when we arrived at shortly after 7 on a Monday. Service was competent, but the kitchen was very slow, and the meal took much longer than it should have. More than an hour went by before we got our main course (the delicious bread helped us get by). The fish dishes are inventive and delicious with portions a bit smaller than I would have liked. It was difficult passing up the lobster choices, but I chose a starter of warm crayfish tails with morel mushrooms in crispy phyllo sitting next to a house-smoked salmon which was excellent. My other half had oysters – also fresh and delicious. For my main course I had tempura wolfish on roasted portobello mushroom, crepe with crisp-fried soft shell crab and hoisin sauce. Our other main was a sauteed sea bass, inventively served with pissaldiere with crisp-fried sweetbreads and delicate reduction with Moroccan Ras el hanout spices. Considering the hour, we skipped dessert. A typical meal here runs about €40 without dessert or drinks.
2. De Witte Uyll
Dinner two was at de Witte Uyll, definitely one of Amsterdam’s most inviting and well run restaurants. Owner Annemieke den Uijl graciously helps diners with their questions and orders, a welcome presence and never is she intrusive. The dining room is lovely with large, Dutch wood tables and soft candles adding a glow to the room. Annemieke answered all our menu or ingredient questions with full knowledge of all that goes on in the kitchen. The restaurant has a clever take on a menu, offering two dishes and dessert for €39. The dishes don’t really fall into the category of starter or main, but we started off withI cannelloni filled with a crème of garden peas, mint and almonds, served with a slightly spicy coulis of fresh red bell pepper for me. My husband opted for the filet of sea bass, served with a crème of potato and lemongrass and a tempura of glasswort. For our second dish, I chose veal filet on a ravioli filled with pumpkin, sage and pastrami, surrounded by a mustard bouillon. Mr. Z. had a home made spicy beef sausage roll served with a compote of red onion and a herb salad. Desserts are wonderful. A rhubarb crumble was Dutch style rather than British without a base, and the accompanying home-made custard alongside was thick and fantastic. I chose specially made ice cream and sorbet (3 flavours), these are the product of Professor Grunschnabel.
3. Van de Kaart
The best meal, just a bit ahead of De Witte Uyll came our last evening … at Van De Kaart on Prinsengracht in the Leidesplein area. This is a slickly run operation with excellent, skilled service and very professional cooking. By this time, we were in agreement that Amsterdam is now in a phase which we will call Modern Dutch Cuisine. The wonderful dishes of the Netherlands feature prominently but are enhanced by modern techniques and spins. We were treated to a lovely amusee bouche of fennel soup and a small shrimp in puff pastry concoction. For starters it was oysters again and two of us had the croquettes of Dutch shrimp puffed garlic with sweet and sour red onions and cucumber and Vadouvan mayonnaise… fantastic and cut into geometric shapes which made for a lovely presentation. The croquette batter was fried to a deep colour and there was no greasy taste to it at all. Prime rib of beef were the best I’ve had in years - served for two with homemade fries and a port jus gravy. It was it was sauteed halibut fillet with a potato onion tartlet, grilled king prawns and saffron beurre blanc for my husband. We were too full for dessert but were served thin delicious tuiles and chocolate brownies with our coffee. As it seems is the average in Amsterdam, the dinners were about €40-45 without drinks.
I am now back on my diet.