De Aardige Pers: probably the best Iranian restaurant in Amsterdam

An Iranian blogger friend of mine (DishTales – you might know his fabulous food photography) told me long ago about the best Iranian restaurant in Amsterdam (or at any rate, his favourite): De Aardige Pers. He warned me that it wasn’t much to look at, and I remember him saying I should wear my baggy pants and fast for several hours beforehand since there was no way I was getting out of there anything other than food-baby full.

My first mistake was stopping at Razmataz for a glass of wine and a hapje with a friend beforehand. The lesson here: do not eat for at least four hours (more if you can manage it – I can’t) before stepping foot inside De Aardige Pers. My second mistake was not having done any research at all about Iranian food – and with a long menu, I didn’t know where to start. This, however, was easily rectifiable: a kindly waiter (who might have been the owner) took pity on us and recommended various dishes that would give us a good introduction to Iranian food.

De Aardige Pers - Iranian restaurant in Amsterdam
The three starters at De Aardige Pers were already a meal in themselves…

First came a house selection of three starters: two involved aubergine, but one was a sort of tomato/egg scramble, and the other involved crispy fried onions and two secret sauces: a fragrant, herbal-tasting one and a creamy/yoghurty one. In the middle was a sort of spinach frittata. I wish I could tell you the names of any of this stuff, but just trust me and ask for the trio of dishes at the bottom of the first page of the menu. They are all served with olives, a selection of fresh herbs, Iranian cheese and pillowy-soft flatbreads with which to mop everything up.

Next came a mixed grill that was heavy on lamb (there were both lamb kofte kebabs and succulent slices of lamb loin) plus chicken that tasted like it had been cooked in lemon and saffron. The meat (which was enough to feed a small army) came with simple but perfectly cooked rice and roasted tomatoes. We only managed to finish half of it, but our earlier saviour boxed up the rest and let me take it home. I still haven’t finished all the leftovers, and I even ended up freezing some. Mr DishTales had clearly been right – and I can’t exactly claim he didn’t warn me…

Iranian restaurant Amsterdam - Aardige Pers
For the meat lovers: mixed grill of lamb and chicken

The whole meal, washed down with half a litre of perfectly drinkable Shiraz, set us back just over €30 per person. Which is possibly the best value I’ve experienced in Amsterdam in quite some time. Couple that with the friendly service (I have no idea if De Aardige Pers is family-run, but it feels like it is) and you’ve got a winning combination. The only kicker? I lived about a kilometre from this place for over a decade and never knew it was there… Now I live on the other side of the city – gutted.

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De Aardige Pers (Middle Eastern)


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