So. The UK ‘Brexited’ nearly two weeks ago. What a complete balls-up. Rewind 10 days and I was either hugely sad or screaming STUPID STUPID at the top of my lungs. The brilliant writer Emma Beddington has summarised just how I feel in her hilarious blog post where she decrees a new parliament run by mirthless owls. I am now so tired of ranting and raving that I will just leave you to read it and have a bit of a sigh. Prop yourself up with a cake or three? Perhaps make it a FRENCH eclair or a DUTCH stroopwaffle or an ITALIAN amaretti biscuit. Pah.
Anyway. How necessary it now feels to be writing a rave review of a European city: Amsterdam. I urge anyone that hasn’t been there yet to MAKE HASTE as it’s bloody wonderful. It has architectural beauty in spades, sleaze, art, canals and statuesque Dutch men and ladies whizzing about carelessly on bikes. Wafts of marijuana tickle the nostrils and memories of my InterRailing past lurk on every corner. Just stay off the recreational cakes, yagetme? And don’t be high or drunk trying to cross the road – cyclists rule and have no regard for human life whatsoever, it’s actually really difficult to traverse! None of them wear a helmet, and are usually chatting on their phones, smoking, carrying large bunches of flowers and looking stylish.
In olden times, where I might have queued up for techno nights hosted somewhere bleak, I was instead tucked up with the duvet under my chin at 11pm. No roughing it with my backpack in Bob’s Youth Hostel or Camping Zeeburg; I stayed at a grown up hotel with a cocktail bar. I had proper luggage with wheels. I wasn’t wearing a bum bag or Thai fisherman’s trousers. And in place of greasy falafel and chips with mayo from various kiosks, I ate in proper restaurants. Is this what they call growing up?!
You will be bowled over by the choice of things to eat in such a vibrant city. Nonetheless the food can sometimes be a bit hit and miss, so here are three failsafe and excellent options for drinks, brunch and dinner.
Brunch at Little Collins
These guys served the best brunch I have ever eaten anywhere. Fact. It’s Melbourne-style cuisine, so lots of interesting fusion going on without it being pretentious. The queues are out the door, but we were lucky and managed to walk straight in – I think I just looked hungry beyond belief so they took pity on me. The portions are generous and everything tastes fantastic and fresh. I only wish I had found room to try their abundant cake selection. The coffee is excellent – it’s flat whites ahoy, smoothies, stuff that will make you feel human again after a boozy evening the night before.
Frank’s home smoked wild salmon with avocado, salmon roe, kimchi, Bernaise sauce and brioche toast. Oh, AND poached eggs:
Avocado on toast with cherry tomatoes, chorizo, sriracha mayo and a side of halloumi. YUUUUM:
I can’t really do daytime drinking anymore so a Virgin Mary hit the spot:
I so wish this place was in my neighbourhood, but it isn’t:
You’ll find it here instead:
1e Sweelinckstraat 19-F
1073 CL Amsterdam
Drinks at Waterkant
So if you only go to one bar, make it Waterkant down on the – ahem – waterfront. It ticks all those boxes that a knackered parent with limited time on the clock might require – it’s easy going, feels a bit trendy but unpressured and you have the sensation of being ‘down with the youth’ for an evening because it’s situated underneath a multi-storey carpark. Nuff said.
Edgy enough for you? Ooh – check out the urinals on the left. Nice.
Great atmosphere, and you get to wave AHOY at the boats full of party people cruising up and down the river:
Dinner at Wildezwijnen Eet Bar
The thought of Dutch food doesn’t set many pulses racing, I’d imagine, but I’m so glad we picked this place. The food we ate at Wildezwijnen Eet Bar was so good it made my eyes roll into the back of my head. It was incredible. I suppose you could describe it as small plates of modern Dutch cuisine, using local produce of the highest quality. It was sophisticated but unfussy. Every mouthful was a flavour bomb. And prices were reasonable.
Crisps served with a crazy kind of vinegar dipping foam. Addictive – and a fun take on salt ‘n vinegar:
Super-fresh oysters, and wonderful, wonderful craggy sourdough bread with olive oil and olives:
Salt cod croquettes with a smoky and delicious dip:
Splendidly tender steak, smoky from the chargrill, served with salty capers:
Slow-braised octopus with potatoes – really tender, with a gorgeous mellow flavour:
We got the cheeseboard for pudding, but the cheeses weren’t Dutch, they were French, so I didn’t bother taking a photo. They were very nice. The menu changes weekly.
1095 CJ Amsterdam
Things to eat for tea, in between those ginormous meals:
Try a plate of mini pancakes – poffertjes – at De Vier Pilaren. Slathered in butter and icing sugar, these critters will fur up your arteries instantly. They’re worth it!
Try an Amsterdam speciality – apple tart. This beauty came from Puccini Espresso Bar. Due to its bouffant nature, I didn’t need to order any ‘slagroom’ (cream) to go with it (snigger):
Look! Hot chocolate taken to the next level – you melt a chocolate covered spoon into hot milk:
Various ganja-infused confectionary. Gosh I feel old, I’d rather have a slice of pie:
This is more to my liking:
And now follows a random selection of my Amsterdam photos. Enjoy!
A visit to the Rijksmuseum delivers fashion inspiration. Am thinking this bonnet / hairpiece would be a good look for me:
If my children had these ladies as governesses, they’d BEHAVE. You’d never answer back, would you:
Lots of these tiny electric cars around. SO TINY:
Ha ha! Couple with selfie stick:
It looks SO great! And I’m loving that a Melbourne style brunch knocked your socks off. Brunch here is creative, handsome, pretentious and expensive. We don’t go out for it often but it’s a treat to do so.
Also, proffertijes (or however you spell them) are my idea of actual heaven.
Glad you had a great time. Long live EU! Xx
I want to do brunch with you in Melbourne one day Philip, I really do! We could go VERY pretentious.
Vive l’Europe! xx
Great article, great photies: it’s a few years since I’ve been to Amsterdam, and obviously – time to go back! The people are great and it’s got a really laid back atmosphere as well as all these great places – culture and food. Which reminds me – one day you’ll have to do Glasgow again: it’s completely revolutionalised since you were there, and there are a great variety of eateries – with fantastic food – to go together with the culture, landscape
AND the funniest people in Britain!!
You bet your ass, Paul – Glasgow is one for the wish list again! Such a groovy place. I still have my heavy red retro ashtray from the Barrows market – is that still going?