After reviewing BARDAK the other week, I hadn’t planned to write about another Middle Eastern restaurant so soon afterwards. In fact, I’d intended to do a small feature about Indian restaurants in Amsterdam, but for various reasons that plan got derailed at the last minute. I found myself instead drinking a couple of beers at De Groene Olifant in Oost, with no dinner reservation on a Saturday night. It was a case of trial and error: call every half-decent place within a kilometre of my location on Google Maps until someone had a table.
Dishes are split into a longer list of veggie options and a shorter list of meat ones, of which we tried what felt like a representative sample. Roasted beetroot with burrata and pistachio nuts was creamy and wintry, while grilled broccolini with tahini and za’atar tasted fresh and healthy. The cauliflower with pomegranate, almonds and herbs, however, could’ve done with being grilled or roasted for a little longer to create that charred umami coating that cauliflower takes on so well.
Meanwhile in the meat department, two small kofte-style lamb kebabs were possibly my favourite dish: served with a spicy tomato and herb salsa and more tahini. Pulled chicken with hummus, pecan nuts, pomegranate seeds and herbs was also delicious, especially when piled onto pillowy pitas.
Not quite sated, we had a well-made sgroppino for desert. Coupled with the very drinkable bottle of Valpolicella (€37) that we drank, this meant we ended up paying €55 each, including a tip for the very attentive service. But if you’re prepared to forego cocktails and fancy wine, Mitts would be a good option for a budget meal – two or three dishes per person should be plenty.
At some point, I’ll make it through my list of Indian restaurants. But in the meantime, I seem to be accidentally adding to a list of rather delicious Middle Eastern ones…