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.
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.
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.
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 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.