Ahhh, how 2017 got off to such a sustainable start what with Vegetarian January ‘n all… And then along comes BBQ season and my carnivorous tendencies win out once again. I’ve actually been trying to write a post about BBQ restaurants in Amsterdam for a while now, but a) there’s Pendergast so why try anywhere else? And b) when you have a Weber and a roof terrace, why go out to eat BBQ at all? With that being said,
I took a friend here who was on some kind of low-carb-high-protein diet, so we literally just ate steak and vegetables. Oh, and red wine – I’m not sure how that fitted into the diet! I got the 200g bavette while my friend got the 300g flat iron; both were cooked just as requested and were quality bits of cow. That being said, I wish restaurants these days would season meat before cooking it – it brings out the flavour far better than salting it afterwards, which means you just taste steak and salt. That small gripe aside, the roasted vegetables were very well cooked and seasoned (although a little on the pricey side for almost €10). The bavette wasn’t bad value though (€14.50) especially if you like a cut of meat with some bite to it. The red wine was full-bodied and robust, and we even fitted in a couple of cocktails afterwards. Enough with the diet already.
Given its location on the way out of town down the Amstel River, Weesper was surprisingly bustling on the Friday night I was there. It was more surprising still considering how huge it is. Presumably the after-work crowd from the Amstel business park are Weesper’s core clientele, but it’s worth a visit for the meat if you happen to be in the area. I particularly enjoyed their beef short rib: unlike others I’ve had that’ve been all bone and marinade, this one was seriously meaty. It came with a tangy chimichuri sauce and a few roasted veggies. Other sides had to be ordered separately, so we went with a green-bean and almond salad (also good) and a simple bowl of chips and mayo. According to the menu (which also includes steak, burgers and pork chops), they chargrill their meat – which certainly showed through in the flavour of the beef short ribs.
I wasn’t so impressed with the burrata, nor with the fact that we had to request bread to go with it – neither the cheese nor the bread were anything special. But I would go back for that beef.
Full disclosure: I didn’t pay for my meal (I was invited by the restaurant) but under usual circumstances you’re looking to pay around €13-18 for your main, plus sides at €4.50. Looking at other diners’ tables, I think the food we got was pretty representative of the kitchen, though the service we received seemed to be particularly attentive compared to others in our vicinity.
In the same neighbourhood as Weesper, you’ll find Rijsel and its much-touted rotisserie chicken. Correction: poussin – it’s smaller and juicier. Mine came with cubes of roasted root veg, dressed butter lettuce, and seasoned roast potatoes with mayo. It’s sort of posh comfort food. Meanwhile, one of my table mates tried the onglet (hangar steak) and reported it to be tender and tasty as well. For the less carnivorous, there are actually fish and vegetarian options as well – but most people go there for the chicken.
To start, I tried the Breton fish soup, which was rich and creamy, served with croutons, rouille and grated gruyere. It was rather a wintry dish to order in June, but very comforting on a rainy day. I needn’t have ordered something so warming, however – the restaurant must’ve been about 28 degrees by the time it was full. I was sweltering and I’m not sure how the waiting staff weren’t keeling over. The building Rijsel’s in looks like a converted school – and I guess schools don’t have aircon. I liked the casual atmosphere and no-frills décor, but some fresh air would’ve been nice.
For three courses, you’re looking to pay €34.50, which is comparable in price with places like Apostrof, Jacobsz and Graham’s Kitchen. The style of cooking, however, is a little different: those are aiming for something accessible but rather more complex, whereas Rijsel is simplicity done well.