BARDAK: Tel Aviv street food and cocktails – reviewed

January. This year, I’m not doing Dry January, or Veganuary, or any other kind of exercise in self-restraint. Nope, I’m just doing crap-I’m-turning-40-this-year-please-give-me-anything-to-get-through-January January. Which is why during my first weekend back after the holidays, I went to BARDAK and got accidentally drunk. Yes, the cocktails are pretty great. And yes, you can still get a bottle of wine in Amsterdam for under €20. But most of all, I am turning into a darn lightweight. Unfortunately, however, I don’t seem to be getting any cheaper as a date – I just get worse hangovers…

Anyway, enough of the self-pity. As well as the tasty yet unpronounceable Oaxaca Delight (a tequila, lime and pineapple concoction that was, indeed, delightful), we tried several dishes off the “street food” menu. I put it in inverted commas because I’m not sure they would all really count as street food, but the dishes were simple, affordable and relatively shareable. And you can’t say fairer than that.

Bardak Amsterdam restaurant
Oaxaca Delight and arais at BARDAK

First up, the aubergine was pleasantly smoky, with crunchy nuts and seeds, creamy yoghurt, and fragrant dill – a good combination of tastes and textures, although it would’ve been better served at room temperature rather than fridge cold. The arais (which seemed more legitimately street food-y) were flavour pockets of minced-beef pita, served with three contrasting dipping sauces – tahini, green chilli and herb sauce, and amba (a sort of pickled mango condiment).

Fried cauliflower with lemon and tahini was about as moreish as it sounds (definitely one for the Ottolenghi generation), while chicken thighs with freekeh came with more tahini and had a similarly lemony flavour profile. It was all lovely in its own right, but a little more contrast between the dishes would’ve been welcome. (I’m prepared to admit, however, that we might just have coincidentally ordered all the dishes that involved tahini and lemon.)

Bardak Tel Aviv street food in Amsterdam
Cauliflower with tahini for the Ottolenghi generation

Dinner – including the four dishes described above, a cocktail apiece and a bottle of Verdejo – came to €88, which really isn’t bad for Amsterdam these days. BARDAK offers two sittings per night, which means you either have to vacate your table by 9 pm or do the Mediterranean thing. I wondered whether they’d get enough takers for the late shift in the land of 6 o’clock dinner, but the place was still hopping when we left. Probably because most other people were significantly younger than me. Not that I’m paranoid about turning 40 – nope, not at all…

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BARDAK (Middle Eastern)


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