When my Dad ran hotels back in the 80s, eating out in your local hotel restaurant was a treat. We probably did it more than most, but it was certainly something my parents would call the done thing. Then something changed.
Jansz (part of Pulitzer Hotel)
Yes, the Pulitzer Hotel has been around for donkey’s years, and I’m assuming it’s always offered its guests something to eat. But Jansz – the Pulitzer’s newly renovated restaurant that’s been a hit with locals – only opened in 2016, as did its much acclaimed cocktail bar. I popped in for lunch at the weekend, and was pleasantly surprised. If the weather is nice, sit outside in the sheltered courtyard: you’ll be treated to a view of the Westerkerk that feels almost like a secret. A glass of Chardonnay will cost you €7, but it’s a generous pour and the service comes with a smile (and free tap water, which is always a plus).
I tried the Reuben sandwich for €13, which was stuffed with pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese, and decadently fried in butter until the cheese had melted. It came with good chips, mayo and ketchup – I couldn’t fault anything except the price, which seemed a little high despite being one of the cheapest options on the menu. But then again – it’s the Pulitzer. I’ve already booked a table to return to Jansz in about six weeks’ time to celebrate with my wedding witnesses; I hope it’s as good second time around!
Wyers Bar & Restaurant (part of Kimpton de Witt Hotel)
Unlike the Pulitzer, the Kimpton de Witt is a brand new hotel in Amsterdam – in fact, it’s the first of the Kimpton chain to open in Europe. But in a similar vein to many hotels, it has its own restaurant and cocktail bar that are already attracting plenty of attention locally.
Full disclosure: I went to Wyers for a press event; I’ve also done some freelance work for them, including writing blog posts for Kimpton and editing Wyers’ menus. The latter at least means that I know what we ate was made up of dishes from the regular menu – what I don’t know is whether the quantities and presentation were the same, as everything was served to be shared family-style.
Those caveats duly noted, the menu is an impressive array of international comfort food. Among the hapjes we tried were mini-buffalo wings (think cake pops crossed with hot wings, if you will) dipped in a cheesy ranch dressing. A less obvious “comfort food” choice (but no less tasty) was the sweetbread salad with white asparagus, bitter frisée lettuce, and a rich sauce gribiche. My favourite starter was the reconstructed vitello tonnato: chunky bread topped with lardo, veal tartare and tuna mayo. Not exactly healthy, but definitely worth the calories.
Mains were a veritable meat-fest: excellent grilled chorizo that was rich in paprika, barely cooked but lightly smoky duck breast (or maybe it was the mashed potatoes that tasted smoky – it was hard to tell), and excellently pink and succulent lamb chops to pick up and gnaw on. It was all finger-lickin’ good – literally.
Two days before I’d stopped in at Wyers for a brunch meeting. I had no experience of Chef Sammy’s cooking at that stage, but something drew me to their eggs Benedict with BBQ pulled pork. Pig addict? Moi? The pulled pork was juicy and grainy, the eggs perfectly poached, and there was a welcome kick of jalapeno to contrast with the creamy Hollandaise sauce.
Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply more freelance work, something tells me I’ll be back at Wyers in the not too distant future…
Meanwhile, when I next get paid for a big project, I’ve got plenty of other hotel restaurants on my to-eat list, including Midtown Grill at the Marriott Hotel, Vinkeles at the Dylan Hotel, and Vermeer at the Barbizon Hotel. Any other recommendations for hotel restaurants and bars? Let us know in the comments below!