I once lived in Lyon for one year and gained ten kilos. Eclairs au chocolat, croissants aux amandes, tartelettes. It was all just too seductive to handle. In Amsterdam I feel the same urge to score at Le Fournil de Sébastien. Not surprisingly, considering the French roots of this bread and pastry heaven. Sébastien, the owner, was born and raised in the Vendée region. He fell in love with Susan, a Dutch blonde. They got married and decided to start a real French bakery in Amsterdam (2007). It was an instant hit and it still is; especially on Saturday mornings the line of hungry worshippers seems to end in Paris. The secret of their success? Wonderful organic and artisan products, happy vibes and modest prices. In summer it’s a sin NOT to buy the tartelettes aux fraises and au citron. The strawberry tart is juicy and sugar sweet, the lime tart creamy and ultra fresh. Opposites attract. Combine them for the ultimate oh là là effect.
Le Fournil de Sébastien
Summer tartelettes (strawberries, lime), one, €2.30
Olympiaplein 119, South
+31 (0) 20 672 42 11
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm
Have you already met The Oyster Man? This tall boyish man will charm you with his enthusiasm and knowledge. I told him I like my oysters fleshy and he gave me the right stuff: huge, ‘fat’ Gillardeau oysters with a rich taste. The sensation of something that pure is unbeatable, especially if you drink a glass of chilled Viognier with it. If you want to be pampered too, just go to Brut de Mer, a new intimate seafood bar/restaurant close to a street where seductive clothes shops prevail: the Gerard Doustraat. The menu is concise but attractive. Home-made shrimp croquettes and calamares a la plancha are on the list together with a damn good lobster roll. Picture this: toasted slightly sweet French bread (brioche), some home-made lemon mayonnaise, thin cabbage slices and chunks of juicy lobster straight from the province of Zeeland (Oosterschelde). Of course this roll is served with a fork and a knife – hello, this is a decent place. But it’s much easier and nicer to turn the roll into a decadent ‘burger bun’ and to eat it without cutlery. Indulge in champagne afterwards.
Brut de Mer
Lobster roll, one, €12.50
Gerard Douplein 8, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 471 40 99
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 5pm-1am, Friday-Saturday 5pm-3am, Sunday 5pm-1am
Fashionable Japanese twenty-somethings, Amsterdam gourmands and Japanese businessmen already found their way to newcomer EN. No wonder: the owners of this Japanese restaurant and sake bar, chef Ken and host Ryuji, previously worked at Yamazato. This Michelin-starred restaurant is a household name within the Japanese community and local foodie scene. EN is less formal and less expensive than Yamazato. The monthly changing menu of this intimate place is dedicated to seasonal ingredients. These menus can be pretty wild: pan-fried crocodile with a teriyaki-foie gras-orange sauce, anyone? Go à la carte if you want to experience how EN excels in simplicity. The sashimi of ultra thin white fish slices melts in your mouth. Ever got excited about an egg? No? Have some truffle-omelette sushi. I rarely rave about veggies, but I make an exception for the lightly battered and fried eggplant, shiso leaves, oyster mushroom and prawns. A tempura made in heaven: tasty, crispy plus a low-fat crust. I bet Ryuji can name at least three sakes that will do this temptation justice.
Tempura of vegetables and prawns, one portion, €24.50
Dusartstraat 53, South (De Pijp)
+31 (0) 20 470 36 66
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 5pm-10.30pm
Let me brag about my Dutch-Indonesian mother. She’s 85 now, but when she was younger she was god’s gift to the wadjan (wok). Her crispy fried chicken was one of her signature dishes. She rubbed the chicken thighs with a sweet-sour paste of tamarind, a fruit from the tamarind tree, before frying them. Another dish to die for: ajam opor, chicken in coconut milk flavoured with sereh (lemongrass). Such a refined taste, ideal to match with one of her vegetable dishes with a touch of ginger. Tamarind, sereh and ginger are essential to the cuisine that Dutch Indonesians brought to The Netherlands. They are linked to a period they refer to as tempo doeloe, those good old days. Looking for the ultimate finale of a Dutch-Indonesian dinner? Make it coffee with a selection – tamarind, sereh, ginger – of Puccini chocolates, the most prestigious chocolates in town and handmade by one of the 10 best chocolatiers of the world.
Tamarind, sereh and ginger bonbons, €1.95 each
Singel 184, City Centre (Jordaan). Other branches: check website
+31 (0) 20 42 78 341
Opening hours: Monday noon-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm, Sunday noon-6pm
At Hummus bistro d&a hummus is served around the clock just like in Tel Aviv, the city where the owners Dikla and Adi come from. In Amsterdam it rains organic hummus at the moment, but here you’ll find the best paste from chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil and garlic around: smooth and silky soft brimming with pure earthy flavours. Served with deliciously home-made whole wheat pitta bread and a selection of pickles, including super delicious slices of spicy lemon. Rise and shine with a portion of hummus and fresh eggplant or shakshuka, an egg-tomato dish with fresh herbs. Return around noon to this pretty little vintage style place to have a sandwich with long cooked beef and green tahini. Finish your day with a ‘caring is sharing meal’ of hummus with Jerusalem seasoned chicken thighs, labane (soft cheese made from strained yogurt) and roasted eggplant with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. I had an excellent cheesecake for dessert, but rumour has it that the halva parfait is a must-eat too. If available, confiscate it!
Hummus bistro d&a
Hummus with eggplant, one meal, €9.00
Westerstraat 136, City Centre (Jordaan)
+31 (0) 20 341 64 87
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-11pm