One of the perks of working in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district for a couple of weeks (other than, you know, the fact that the folk down there know how to pay a writer pretty well) is that I get to eat out for lunch near my client and explore an entire new neighbourhood of restaurants.
The most memorable thing about The Barn is its ordering system, which is a shame because the salad I had was actually very good. Ordering it, however, required navigating a not very user-friendly giant computer screen and then listening for my code word to be shouted out once my lunch was ready and waiting. Either I’d picked a table too far away or the woman making my salad had a very small voice, because it had been sitting there for 10 minutes before I realised it was waiting to be eaten. That hiccup aside, I loved it: autumnal orange butternut squash came with nutty quinoa, sweet roasted pecans, fresh not-too-salty feta, and various mixed leaves – including my favourite herb: mint. It was tasty, healthy, and kept me full until at least 5 pm (which, in my case, is something of a miracle). The salad cost €9.25, which isn’t too bad when you compare it to somewhere like SLA – and in the Zuidas, you can’t expect anything to be cheap.
It was clearly a salad-y kind of week, as I went for the lentil and shrimp salad at Zuidas competitor Limon, too. Limon feels a bit posher and less utilitarian than The Barn, there’s no online ordering system, and the service is much more, well, present. But the food is correspondingly more expensive and not necessarily any better in terms of quality or quantity. The dressing on my salad was overly sweet and the three king prawns didn’t taste entirely fresh. The veggies, however, were crunchy and well prepared, and I appreciated the fresh, seed-topped bread with good-quality olive oil. At €13 a pop for a smaller salad, however, I’d sooner go back to The Barn and grapple with the giant computer screens…
I’d actually been to Sushilee once before – it was 1st February of this year, the day after Vegetarian January ended and I was eager to sate my sushi cravings. I loved it the first time, but we went all out ordering lots of dishes, wine and so on. I was curious to see how it would shape up at lunchtime – which is, after all, when Lauren (the owner) does her core business. I was in the mood for something a little simpler than last time, so I picked the tuna & salmon sushi set for €12. Lauren’s fish is melt-in-the-mouth fresh and her sushi rice still warm and rolled to perfection. I’m a huge fan of Sushilee’s just-seared salmon nigiri (actually, I assume they do it with a blow torch) and this time especially enjoyed the sort of “salmon-sushi-sandwich” that you see in the background of this picture. Lauren also serves a selection of interesting loose-leaf teas, although for €3 a cup it’s best not to go too tea-tastic.
Meanwhile, my project in the Zuidas continues but I won’t be at the client’s offices as much over the coming weeks. That’s a shame, because I was starting to enjoy my corporate lunch breaks…