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Bistro Zuidlande: in celebration of the shortest house move in history

Please note that since writing this blog post, Bistro Zuidlande has closed down

Did I tell you I’m buying a house? I’m not going far. You know how wedded I am to Amsterdam, and to the West specifically, and to the Spaarndammerbuurt even more specifically, and actually to my very own kitchen. So I decided to just shift the kitchen upstairs – three floors upstairs, to be precise. The neighbours have a roof terrace, and I don’t, so I am making what must possibly be the shortest move in history: about ten metres vertically.

It was touch and go for a while. Turns out banks really don’t like freelancers. Especially foodie ones who don’t know much about money. They’re not exactly fond of Americans either, but at least the Honey Badger has a “real” job. And I can be a stubborn old cow when I want to be, so I somehow managed to harass the mortgage guy enough to make it happen.

All of which meant that last Friday I was in Bistro Zuidlande (on the Spaarndammerstraat – where else?) celebrating the signing of the first contract with my neighbours. It’s taken me a while to make it to Zuidlande (despite the convenience of its address) because ever since Het Parool gave it a 9, it’s been impossible to get a table at less than a week’s notice. This time, with the notary appointment already booked, we were lucky. It’s a funny feeling, realising that you’ve known the people whose house you’re going to be living in for 8 years already – but a good feeling all the same. We started with bubbles, of course, which were spiked with something that tasted like a cross between lavender and limoncello, and made a toast to our new homes.

Bistro Zuidlande Amsterdam
Bistro Zuidlande (no food pics – it was too dark inside!)
The menu is French, which is actually kind of rare in Amsterdam these days, even though it was practically all you could get 10 years ago. It featured things like calf’s tongue and skate wing, which I thought was fairly brave as they’re generally considered more “foodie” and less crowd-pleasers. The Honey Badger had the calf’s tongue and loved it. I, on the other hand, had the richest scallop dish I’ve ever eaten. They came (three of them – whole scallops, not cut in half lengthways like restaurants usually give you to save money) on the half shell nestling in a hearty dollop of gooey cauliflower and truffle puree, topped with a puff pastry lid. A scallop pie, if you will. It could have probably sufficed for a main course, but that was still to come… Speaking of which, next up was a “Cassoulette” (which I assume is just supposed to be a mini-version of a cassoulet). Now, generally I love cassoulet, but this one I was a little on the fence about. It’s not that it didn’t taste good: the meat was all fantastic, especially the Toulouse sausages. It just wasn’t a lot like the cassoulets I’ve had in France and cooked myself subsequently. Random vegetables kept popping up, like mushrooms and turnips, that didn’t feel very Provençale. And the sauce was a rich, truffle-laced, umami jus, without the sunny-sweet influence of ripe tomatoes. (Admittedly, this may well be because the Netherlands is devoid of ripe tomatoes at this time of year.) As a dish, I remained unconvinced by it.

By this point, we were all far too full for dessert (I’d probably hit that point already after the Scallop Pie Effect) so we settled for a digestif and a bit of a moan about WOZ waardes. Generously, my neighbours picked up the bill, which came to around €200 for the four of us. And then they wandered off home to what will soon be my new roof terrace 🙂

all the info

Bistro Zuidlande (French)
€€

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