Amsterdam Foodie

Fish restaurant Amsterdam: Bar Fisk – reviewed

Around a year ago, I wrote about some fishy business: the rise of seafood restaurants in Amsterdam. The Netherlands’ proximity to the North Sea means it has always been a country of fishermen, but until fairly recently its fishing industry was represented in Amsterdam by the ubiquitous herring/kibbeling stands and not a lot else. Nowadays, places to eat a variety of high-quality fish abound in this city, and as someone who’s trying slowly but steadily to eat rather less meat, this is a more than welcome development. Nothing speaks of the moment of cool that fish restaurants in Amsterdam are currently enjoying better than Bar Fisk: part cocktail bar, part pescatarian paradise. If you’re lucky, you might even get to sit at the fish-shaped table.

I’ve been there twice now: the first time for cocktails; the second time for a friend’s birthday dinner. The cocktails were pretty good – not quite up there with HPS and its ilk, but definitely very solid for a place that’s more restaurant than bar. Mine was the one that looks like it’s in a test tube: appropriately called “Back to the Lab”, it’s a citrusy concoction with a few sweet and herbal notes for extra chemistry.

Bar Fisk Amsterdam - cocktail bar
“Back to the Lab” cocktail at Bar Fisk

The food is designed to be shared but is larger than tapas-sized portions. Order a couple of dishes per person and see how you’re getting on after that. Highlights for me were the corvina tartar, which was essentially a cross between ceviche, tabbouleh and smoked aubergine: literally three of my favourite things on one plate. Mackerel (also cured rather than cooked) was served with roasted cauliflower, chilli and a tahini sauce: again, there were so many of my best-loved ingredients here that I couldn’t fail to love the dish.

Fish restaurant Amsterdam - Bar Fisk
Ceviche + tabbouleh + aubergine = these are a few of my favourite things…
Bar Fisk - fish restaurant Amsterdam
Middle East meets Mediterranean: mackerel, cauliflower and tahini

Squid came with earthy beetroot salad and crunchy roasted pecan nuts. Golden fried sardines arrived swimming in a peppery dressing atop a marine blue plate (probably my favourite photo I’ve taken in a while). And pan-fried bream fillets were served simply with some roasted garlic, toasted almonds and yoghurt.

Bar Fisk Amsterdam - fish and seafood restaurant
Silver sardines swimming in marine blue…
Bar Fisk Amsterdam - sharing food
Beetroot, squid and pecan salad

Equally simple were the half-dozen raw oysters (although I’d have preferred a simple wedge of lemon to the sauce they came with), as well as a whole sea bass, freshly grilled and served with bright green parsley and creamy garlic sauces.

Bar Fisk Amsterdam - oysters
Oysters. ‘Nuff said.
Bar Fisk Amsterdam - fish
Golden bream: simple but perfectly formed

Bar Fisk does a couple of meat dishes, too. They were just as good, but since the fish was so outstanding it would seem a shame to order meat unless you’re with a non-fishy friend. For me, however, it’s the combination of Middle Eastern flavours and fresh Mediterranean ingredients that really sets Bar Fisk apart. The service could still probably do with a little ironing out (and the restaurant is fairly new, so there could still be teething problems) but the menu is nothing short of gorgeous already.

all the info

Bar Fisk (Mediterranean)

Eerste Sweelinckstraat 23, (De Pijp)020 235 2117 /

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