Where to eat in the Plantage: Box Sociaal

When I moved to the east side of Amsterdam, I figured it was high time I updated the location categories on my restaurant finder so that Oost was no longer one, big, all-inclusive mass. I separated Watergraafsmeer into its own neighbourhood, and also split off the Plantage since it’s not technically in Oost anyway. But having done so, I realised something very strange: I hardly had any – any – restaurants in the Plantage area of my map. Why hadn’t I gone out to eat more in the Plantagebuurt? Was it because there weren’t many restaurants there? Or because I didn’t know anyone who lived in that area? I started doing some research about where to eat in the Plantage and, while the coverage of good restaurants seemed to be less than elsewhere in Amsterdam, one name kept popping up again and again. Box Sociaal. I set out to investigate…

Run by Antipodeans, Box Sociaal is (perhaps unsurprisingly) known for its brunch. And indeed they seem to do a good line in the usual suspects from eggs Benedict to breakfast sandwiches, but they also have some more creative-looking menu items like the yum cha waffle or what looks like a pimped-up PBJ sandwich. Pictured here is the Eggs Benny & the Jets with added ham, which was generally pretty good. One of these days someone is going to make a killing making English muffins and selling them to every brunch joint in town, but until that happens I guess the best we can hope for is toasted sourdough. The eggs were a tad on the runny side, but the spinach and ham were good and the Hollandaise well-made. Plus the little potato croquettes you can see on the side were a cute and tasty addition.

Where to eat in the Plantage - Box Sociaal for brunch
Eggs Benny & the Jets at Box Sociaal

But the first time I went to Box Sociaal was in fact for dinner, and I’m pleased to report their evening menu is just as tasty. We split a plate of halloumi fries to start, which were hot and crispy (and slightly sweet from honey and thyme), with a cooling mint-yoghurt dressing. As mains, we tried the cassoulet – which was pleasantly experimental but still close enough to its bean-based roots. It was topped with a slice of pork belly with crispy skin (you can’t go wrong there) and the beans were creamy and perfectly cooked. I didn’t get much of the Toulouse sausage coming through though, which was a shame. Meanwhile, the beef cheek was fantastic – melt-in-the-mouth and umami rich from a thick Asian-infused stock. While the rice and cucumber/daikon salad it came with were pretty plain, it didn’t matter – the beef cheek was centre stage.

Where to eat in the Plantage - Box Sociaal for dinner
Foreground: cassoulet. Background: beef cheek.

Drinks-wise, Box Sociaal’s coffee and juices are excellent, and they have a decent selection of wines by the glass. They had a kimchi theme going on the evening I was there, so I also tried a kimchi cocktail. The citrus and spice was nice, although I couldn’t taste much alcohol, but I got definite garlicky notes from the kimchi. I like that they dared to be different, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work. My brunch came to €20, while dinner came to €46 – so about mid-range for Amsterdam these days. And the service was impeccable, which meant I had no problem leaving a tip either.

I’ll return to the Plantage for Box Sociaal alone. But the question still remains: where else should I eat in the Plantagebuurt? Let me know in the comments below!

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Box Sociaal (International)


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