While I’ve already written about Amsterdam in a previous post, I thought I have to give the rest of the tiny little country a fair shake. To be honest, I really love the Netherlands. The atmosphere, the kindness of the people, the international feel, and the general relaxed nature is something I could get used to. Here I’ve got a couple more places worth a visit, and many more places worth eating at.
First, Den Haag. Well known as an oil & gas city, this is a town of expats. Meaning lots of international people, restaurants, bars, and a mish-mash of culture. The atmosphere is very similar to Amsterdam – however subtract a lot of the tourists. Den Haag, like Amsterdam, is great for simply wandering.
Los Argentinos: My first time in Den Haag I was recently back from a trip to Argentina – so I can say that this steakhouse is the most authentic Argentine-style restaurant I’ve seen to date in Europe. Like a proper Argentine steakhouse, the menu offers little besides meat, and serves it very simply, grilled without heavy sauces or side dishes. Pots of chimichurri, the traditional sauce, are on the table. The restaurant is hilariously decorated with cow hides, leather, and dark wood – how Gaucho. People are packed in – reservations recommended.
HanTing: This restaurant, with one Michelin star, is outstanding. The Netherlands hosts “Restaurant Week” in March each year, meaning you can have a VERY nice three-course meal at fantastic restaurants for less than 30 euros. In the case of the Michelin star restaurants, a 10 euro supplement is added. But believe me it’s worth it. Amuse Bouche with champagne, first pork belly and shrimp with candied tomato, then velvety fish and finally crispy duck. So unbelievably good and inventive. Wine pairings, by the half or full glass, are available and I really recommend them if you can afford it – it really brings a new dimension. Overall, it’s a splurge meal here for sure, but you’ll remember it for life.
Frites: Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum – fries. They are done well in the Netherlands. Traditionally handed to you fresh from the fryer, in paper cones with your choice of many sauces – the Dutch are also big on strange sauces with their fries. Go for the classic Mayo, or try something new like Curry BBQ or Sweet Thai.
Next, Delft. Now, this might be the prettiest little town I ever saw. Due to the large university here it’s heavily populated by students, but there is little evidence of grotty student accommodation or drunken teenagers. The town is absolutely filled with charming brick houses, whose charmingly quaint living rooms are all in full view along the street behind charming curtains and charming wrought iron garden fences, with the quintessential bicycle parked out front. The cobblestones streets around the old town wind along canals and various cafes and pubs spill their patrons onto the street. Delft is famous for its blue and white pottery- which is probably something you already associate with the Netherlands. I was visiting a friend for the weekend and she showed me around the old town – as I said so fantastically cute- but there is not much to it. You can walk around and be done within the hour.
More Amsterdam Hot Spots
Dutch Versetzmuseum (Resistance): A little known fact to me was how much effort the Dutch put into resisting the Nazi movement spreading to Holland. This museum provides a wonderful audio and visual storyline of individual people as well as the efforts overall – it’s extremely well-written and interesting.
Free City Walking Tour: I did this for the second time around and again, was SO impressed with the knowledgable tour guide, her humour, and her very effective way of describing the city history and different areas. These guides operate solely on tips and word-of-mouth and I think it’s a great system. You can find New Europe tours here.
Canal Tour: A different way to see the city, complete with an Audio guide.
De Compagnon: For a blow-out night, we had an 8-course tasting menu with wine pairings at this fantastic little restaurant, hidden away along the canal in the Red Light District. The restaurant is small and very “vertical”, being in a canal house, but beautifully decorated. The food is phenomenal – an amuse bouche of caviar, bread with truffle butter, and olives. Followed by
- Foie gras in a chocolate tuille
- Dorada with purple potato
- A perfectly cooked scallop resting on a mushroom ravioli in a rich mushroom broth
- Sweetbreads with veal cheeks and crispy cauliflower
- Potato foam
- Rocky Mountain beef with three types of onions
- Oak ice cream
- Citrus cake with vanilla ice cream and lemongrass cream, served in a banana leaf.
We topped it all off with an espresso. Each course was exceptionally paired with a complementary wine, three whites, a sherry, two reds, and a Muscatel. Highly overindulgent and so worth it. Below is just a smattering of the dishes. . .
Bakhjus: For an awesome bakery on the south edge of the city center, Bakhjus serves up freshly baked croissants, buns, breads, and sweets. They also have killer coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Café Bukowski: Another good breakfast pick, offering everything from a croissant to full-on Eggs Benedict or French Toast. The staff are friendly and attentive and the food is fresh.
Yoghurt Barn: For a healthy start, here you can choose from nonfat, low, or fullfat plain yogurt, and add your toppings –a vast array including fruits, nuts, seeds, brownies, honey, jam. . . you name it. Smoothies and coffee are available too.
Des Ysbrekker: This happening busy bar is a great spot for a drink in the rare sunshine which shines in Amsterdam. We had dinner here and the food was good, however the menu is short and a bit odd.
Brouwerij de Prael: If you’re a beer lover, come check out this local brewhouse, with ~7 daily beers on tap and a fun funky atmosphere.
Soenda Kelapa: If you want to try the traditional Indonesian Rice Table, this is the spot. This “dish” is actually a combination of many many dishes. First, coconut chicken soup and rice crackers are brought to the table. This is followed by numerous tiny bowls of various meat, vegetable, chicken, and fish dishes, for sampling with both white and yellow rice. Condiments include toasted coconut, chilies, and nuts. The food is spicy!