Because I am studying abroad in London, my Fall Break is much longer than what I would have had in New York. With one full week without classes, most people choose to utilize the extra time to travel. Three of my friends and I decided to visit some countries in Europe. Our first stop: Amsterdam.
We spent a good half hour walking up and down the streets to find a decent place for lunch/brunch. Amsterdam is pretty much a tourist town, and the prices for everything will definitely reflect that. In the end, we settled on a place that was busy but not too crowded called Dam Plaza. The restaurant does not give tap water, which is usually how we try to cut costs, so be prepared with your own or be ready to pay up €4.90 for one bottle of still water. The dishes here will set you back anywhere between €6-€12.
A friend and I both ordered the tuna ciabatta with capers and chives (€7.75). The chefs didn’t skimp on the tuna, and the boiled egg on top made the dish even more filling. The capers gave some flavor to the otherwise heavy mayonnaise-covered tuna. In the end, I left some of the bread on my plate.
Another friend ordered the salmon ciabatta with brie (€9.95). Unlike the tuna ciabatta, the salmon one is hot, and the oozing cheese made us all drool. While the amount of salmon given was adequate, the dish was a bit skimp on the pesto sauce. The pine nuts were also not toasted, but the brie made up for the oversight.
The last girl in our group ordered scrambled eggs with toast and smoked salmon (€9.75). Her dish was the most disappointing of the lot, as the portion and simple execution didn’t match the price. She noted that the dish was satisfactory, but nothing made it stand out.
While the food at Dam Plaza sufficed, the service was unsatisfactory. The staff was disorganized, and I heard two waitresses ask the head waiter if they had the right dish on a couple of occasions. In addition, I saw a waitress complaining about another staff member, and at one point another waitress was crying behind the bar. I’m not sure exactly the reason, but showing personal drama in front of customers makes diners feel uncomfortable.
On the first day, we also went to the Heineken museum. Tickets are € 15, which includes two free drinks, so don’t go unless you are a big Heineken fan. I found the museum to be extremely boring.
After the museum, we had an afternoon snack to try some of the local food. Nearby the museum is a diner-like place called De Carousel. At 4:00 PM, there were hardly any other people in the place, and yet our server was slow.
The restaurant has an actual carousel on the inside, but you aren’t allowed to touch it.
Wanting to try a bit of sweet and savory, we ordered poffertjes with sugar and butter (€5.50), poffertjes with mixed fruit and fresh whipped cream (€7.50), and a cheese and mushroom pancake (€7.00). Poffertjes are mini Dutch pancakes that are cooked in a why which remind me of Japanese takoyaki. They are soft and airy, but covered in butter they are very filling. Sugar and butter are the traditional toppings for the dessert, and, as you can see, the restaurant was very generous. You can’t see all the butter underneath the powdered sugar, but – trust me – the poffertjes are soaked in it. There was so much powdered sugar that you would probably choke if you ate one too fast. But it was so good!
The poffertjes are also served with stroop, which is syrup. The syrup given to us was a generic brand available at any market, but it didn’t smell like maple syrup. Instead, it smelled like soy sauce yet tasted very sweet. We poured plonty of stroop on our poffertjes as well.
The mixed fruit and fresh whipped cream poffertjes came with an equally large amount of butter and powdered sugar, and the fruit made us feel a little less guilty about eating so much sugar before dinner.
The cheese and mushroom pancake made our supposed snack stop seem more like a meal. Dutch pancakes are not fluffy like those in the states. Instead, they are thin and resemble crepes more than what Americans would perceive as pancakes. With the pancake, we all secretly tried to get a slice with more mushrooms and cheese.
We took no time in devouring all three dishes. In fact, the girls were about half way through by the time I had finished writing my notes on the restaurant. Luckily, they saved some for me. You can see that we licked out plates clean, leaving only the artificial cherries behind. I didn’t time how fast we ate, but let’s say that the waitress could tell that we really liked out food.
The next day, we ate at a corner café we happened to come across while on our way out from our hotel. Wanting to hide from the rain, we went inside. Café De Doelen is the epitome of the feel-good, homey café that puts shame upon any Starbucks. The wooden rafters and brick walls mesmerized us. There were also well-mannered cats roaming around; they didn’t disrupt our meal, but those who are allergic should beware.
We all ordered the Good Morning Breakfast (€7.50), a cute name for a pretty filling meal. The breakfast comes with hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, fresh orange juice, a croissant, a small pancake, a boiled egg, and a slice of a Dutch breakfast cake. We all had the hot chocolate, which was just the thing we needed to warm up from the cold.
The Dutch pancake is plan, so don’t be afraid that you’re going to be given something sweet in the morning.
The croissant, egg, and cake came in a cute basket, making me feel very rustic. The Dutch breakfast cake was a dense spiced cake. The nutmeg in the cake paired well with the hot chocolate.
For lunch and dinner, we lived off bread, cheese, and yogurt. After going into every cheese shop we passed and tasting (more than once) every cheese each store had to offer, we eventually bought a small wheel of pesto cheese for €9. It was delicious, and we barely had enough to last us for our overnight train to Germany.
Amsterdam 1012 LP
2e Weteringplantsoen 1
Amsterdam 1017 ZD
Café De Doelen
1011 KC Amsterdam