When I first moved to the Dutch capital as a student in 2001, French restaurants in Amsterdam were the height of fashion. Things have moved on since then, but there’s still some good French food to be found if you know where to look. Some of it is more old-school than others, but these are all top quality restaurants.
Café de Klepel
Café de Klepel is a cosy, unassuming little French restaurant in the picturesque Jordaan neighbourhood. It serves classic French/Dutch dishes, great cheeses and organic wines, and the service is professional, too. Take your parents, take a date, take a colleague – it’s a great spot for any occasion.
Ron Gastrobar Paris
Dutch chef Ron Blaauw owns a few different restaurants in Amsterdam and most of what he does, he does well. His Parisian menu is split into three different types of dish: entrées priced at €15 each, including things like rillettes and crudités; main dishes priced at €18, including classics like foie gras, frog’s legs and French onion soup; and desserts for €9. You can also take their Bib Gourmand menu for €37 or get a special deal for pre-theatre dinner. Blaauw’s Parisian branch has a well-stocked bar, too: I’d recommend kicking off with an aperitif at the steam-punk-esque bar before making your way to the table.
Auberge Jean et Marie
Opening in de Pijp neighbourhood in 2016, Auberge Jean et Marie is testament to the trend that top-notch, high-end French food is making a comeback. The interior is as classic as the food: all white tablecloths, dark wood, classy tones of grey on the walls, and a touch of stained glass. Even the terrace outside looks like a French brasserie spilling out onto the pavement. Culinary highlights for me included the coarsely textured, gamey pâté stuffed with chestnuts and pistachios; and the smooth, coral-coloured bisque that was full of flavour from brown shrimps and deftly sliced fennel.
Paskamer is Dutch for changing room, but the place is a sort of wine bar-cum-restaurant serving food that’s loosely French-Mediterranean. So who knows where the name comes from? Because they offer around 50 wines by the glass, you can pair a different one with each dish you order, or just plump for a bottle to split with your pals. The food is almost perfectly designed for sharing: oysters on the half shell were silky and salty. Finely sliced pulpo (octopus) was smoky and ever-so-slightly spicy from the smoked paprika and chilli mayo on top. Sweet potato chips were suitably crispy on the outside yet comfortingly mushy on the inside, and nicely salted. Paskamer does a great job in providing a glorious range of French-ish snacks that you can easily turn into a whole meal.
Wijnbar Boelen & Boelen
I first found Wijnbar Boelen & Boelen soon after I moved here, when de Pijp was the (only) place to go out at night. After a long absence, I recently rediscovered it as a lovely spot for a glass of wine and a plate of cheese or charcuterie after work on a Friday evening. They do good, classic main courses as well: steak, duck and the like. It’s not cheap, but it’s very good quality French food and the service is extremely attentive.
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