Five years ago, Mr Foodie and I threw an extremely geeky Game of Thrones party, in which we renamed the seven kingdoms according to areas of Amsterdam. Perhaps as a piss-take to two good friends who’d recently moved to the Eastern Docklands, we dubbed the Red Waste as the East Waste – because Westerpark was clearly Westeros. Ahhh, how naïve we were! It’s been six months since I moved to Oost, and although the area has changed a lot in the last half decade it’s clear that I drastically underestimated what its neighbourhoods had to offer.
Where to eat on Beukenplein: Rotisserie East
You might not stumble across the Beukenplein without knowing about it, which means you’ve got half a chance of getting a seat on one of the sunny terraces in summer. However, it being winter right now, you could do a lot worse that retreat into the cosy interior at Rotisserie East and indulge in some comfort food. The time I visited, the rotisserie chicken itself had a great umami rub and was perfectly moist. They’d even taken the thigh bone off the breast bone/ribs, which made it much easier to eat (especially to share). Meanwhile, the fried chicken had a wonderfully savoury, moreish, crispy coating. Mr Foodie says it’s a travesty that it was off-the-bone chicken thighs cut into slices, but from a practical perspective it worked perfectly. And the ranch dressing was a nice touch, too.
I was slightly less impressed by the sides: loaded jalapeno and cheese fries were rather soggy and oddly sweet, while the veggie salad seemed to involve more cheese (burrata?) than actual vegetables. But from the chicken perspective, Rotisserie was finger-lickin’ good. Plus, I loved their Boulevardier cocktail – it tasted like a cross between an Old Fashioned and a Negroni – awesome. Dinner came to €40 each, including a few cocktails and more food than we could eat.
Also worth checking out on Beukenplein: Smokin’ Barrels for burgers and Café Maxwell for classic eetcafe fare like satay and bitterballen.
Where to eat by Oosterpark: Louie Louie
The insides of buildings in Oost just seem to be bigger than those in West, and nowhere is this more in evidence than in the spacious, fake-fur-lined Louie Louie at the northeast corner of Oosterpark. With an all-day concept, you can hit up Louie Louie for brunch, lunch, afternoon borrel, dinner or evening drinks. So far, I’ve only managed the first and last of these options, but in both cases the service was fast and attentive and the drinks flowing. For brunch, I tried the eggs Benedict, which is always something of a risk in Amsterdam where the concept of English muffins does not seem to exist. So, lack of English muffins aside (Louie Louie used brioche buns instead), the rest of the dish was good: the eggs were perfectly cooked and still warm, the ham was decent quality, and the Hollandaise had good flavour – albeit had split a little. Plus, of all the muffin substitutes I’ve been given, the brioche bun is probably the least offensive…
Also worth checking out by Oosterpark: de Biertuin for local beer and Henry’s Bar for cocktails.
Where to eat by Dappermarkt: Alex + Pinard
I’m not sure who Alex is – nor Pinard, for that matter – but their concept is simple: good-quality, affordable wines by the glass and shareable dishes that are several cuts above the average borrel hapje. Plus, if you’re feeling hungry and looking for a full meal, you can order the four-course chef’s menu for only €25. And not only are the prices friendly – the service is, too. The evening I was at Alex + Pinard, I tried the jamon croquettes, which were delicious, but probably the cause of my entire outfit smelling like a deep-fat fryer. We then moved onto two veggie dishes: beetroot with horseradish and chervil, plus cauliflower with ricotta and bottarga (cured fish row). Both dishes packed a punch in terms of flavour, but were also subtle enough so that no ingredient overpowered another.
From there, we tried two meat dishes: crispy rabbit tempura with a flavoursome tarragon dip, plus a classic veal schnitzel. Both were simple but well executed. All these dishes plus four glasses of wine each came to just over €40 per person, which seemed like very good value. My only criticism would be the ventilation – I had to throw all my clothes in the washing machine the next day.
Also worth checking out by Dappermarkt: Boi Boi for Thai appetisers in a fun atmosphere.
Where to eat in Indische Buurt: Bistro Zebra
Right on the southern tip of Indische Buurt, you’ll find hidden gem Bistro Zebra – a sort of Asian-fusion hybrid restaurant whose chefs aren’t afraid of big flavours. First up, I tried a plate of marinated grey mullet sashimi with pickled (lightly fermented?) root vegetables and wasabi mayo. It was fresh and inviting from the fish, sweet and sour from the vegetables, with both heat and umami from the wasabi and the soy marinade. An excellent combination. Still on my fish kick, I ordered the pollack next: it came with a heady mix of kimchi and sake cream that formed a rudimentary sauce for the udon noodles. Spicy, creamy and savoury – I couldn’t get enough of it.
Also worth checking out in Indische Buurt: Walter Woodbury Bar for burgers and beers, and Wilde Zwijnen for modern Dutch cooking
Where to eat on the Eastern Islands: Frank’s Smokehouse
For 20 years, Frank was peddling his smoked fish, meats and other delicacies from his tiny shop out the front of his smoking kitchen. Lots of locals knew about Frank’s as a specialty food shop, and you’d see his wares on restaurant menus around the city. Then, a year and a half ago, he decided to branch out into the restaurant business himself – serving his own excellent smoked goods as part of a broader menu at Frank’s Smokehouse.
The day I ate there it was a special Thanksgiving lunch (disclaimer: I was invited and didn’t pay) but it looks like several of the things we ate feature on the regular menu as well. Namely the duck rillettes and pâté (the latter particularly good), the smoked salmon (a Frank classic), and the chocolate lava cake (nothing smoked about it, but amazingly gooey and delicious). I’m already planning my next visit – the smoked fish and charcuterie platters looked incredible…
Also worth checking out on the Eastern Islands: Spirit for a vegetarian buffet.
Where to eat in Transvaalbuurt: Michel-Inn
One of my new favourite streets in Oost is Pretoriusstraat, packed with specialist food shops and cute cafés. At the square on the western end of the street is Michel-Inn, which – despite the potentially pretentious name – is the very definition of gezellig: warm, cosy and with comforting dishes to match. They have a large clay oven, fired by wood, in which they cook pizzas to order. We tried the truffle burrata with caponata, which was perhaps something of a misnomer but still tasty. The burrata was just drizzled in black truffle oil, while the “caponata” essentially comprised pieces of aubergine and courgette in a rich tomato sauce.
Also good was the pasta of the day: in our case, lamb ragu with warming North African spices and generous ribbons of pappardelle. It had good flavour, but the lamb could’ve been cooked a little longer and slower for more tenderness. With a bottle of wine between the two of us, dinner came to €30 each, while the service and atmosphere were delightful throughout.
Also worth checking out in Transvaalbuurt: Le Due Sicilie for stellar Sicilian food at great value.
Where to eat in Oostpoort: Nomads
Every six months, the aptly named restaurant Nomads takes you on a culinary journey through a different country. The night I visited (and until around April 2019) that journey was to Jordan – I am a huge fan of Middle Eastern food, so the menu couldn’t have made me happier if they’d known I was coming. Not wanting to limit our choices, we decided to go for the Chef’s Menu, which started with three mezze-style dishes: sweet ‘n spicy muhammara (red pepper and walnut paste); fragrant falafel with yoghurt dip; and smooth but simple hummus – all excellent, and all served with fluffy warm whole-wheat pitas. Dinner was off to a good start.
The tussen gerechten included razor clams spiked with preserved lemons; lamb tartar with onions and capers; and soft, smoky aubergine with a coriander and basil dressing. The only dish we didn’t finish was the lamb because of the strength of the onions, but the rest was superbly flavoured. Instead of desserts, we requested an extra savoury dish, which meant we got three main courses: cauliflower with labneh, pomegranate and a buttery sauce; grilled duck with a whole grilled green pepper, beetroot puree and a sweet/umami jus; and another meat dish whose particulars were lost on me after a bottle of Chilean Pinot Noir but which in any case I remember as being a delight to eat.
Dinner came to €50 each, including the wine and a tip because the service was some of the friendliest I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps it’s because Oostpoort doesn’t quite feel like Amsterdam… Perhaps it’s because Nomads feels like Jordan…
Also worth checking out in Oostpoort: Yatta Sushi for my favourite sushi in the area.
Where to eat in Amstelkwartier: The Lobby Fizeaustraat
One morning during Amsterdam’s long Indian summer, we sat outside on the comfy, spacious terrace at The Lobby Fizeaustraat for brunch. The Caesar salad was excellent, with fresh anchovies, succulent chicken, crispy croutons and all the things you’d expect in a Caesar salad. Possibly a boiled egg would’ve been a bit more suitable than a poached egg, but that’s more of a preference than a complaint. We also tried another attempt at eggs Benedict (or whatever you call them when it’s with avocado, not ham). This time, they were made with similarly good eggs and Hollandaise but served on crusty bread. One of these days, I will make my millions importing English muffins into Holland…
I’ve not yet been to The Lobby for dinner, but it’s high on my list for this winter – not least because the interior of the restaurant and bar look just as sumptuous as the terrace.
Also worth checking out in Amstelkwartier: Persijn for Dutch food in the QO Hotel.