NeoPatrick in Amsterdam

Aug 12th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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NeoPatrick in Amsterdam

As I mentioned in the Venice report we flew Holland's TransAvia Airlines from Treviso to Amsterdam -- a wonderful flight. We were supposed to arrive in Amsterdam at about 6:50, so we had made arrangements to be at our apartment for the keys between 7:45 and 8:15. Our flight actually arrived early, when we got to the luggage carousel our bags were already circling, we got tickets for the train to Centraal Station, went downstairs and the train instantly appeared, got the first taxi at the station, and were AT our apartment on Prinsengracht by 7:10. So we waited about a half hour for the owner's rep to show up (he was out of town for a couple days).

The apartment was wonderful. I had worried about two things -- it seemed VERY small, and there was no AC -- almost a given in Amsterdam. Well, the weather was VERY cool, a couple days we even got out our Alaska hooded windbreakers, otherwise I told Lee I was going to burn his sweater when we got home -- he wore it all day every day all week! And it was a very well organized and designed apartment so the space was no problem at all. We have voted the shower as the BEST shower we've ever had anywhere in Europe. It was a semi-open (with a wall half way across), walk in that was quite large. Nice to be able to soap up or shampoo and actually lift your elbows without cracking them on the walls. The shower head was adjustable to massage and there was more water pressure with never changing temperature that I have ever seen in any shower. A smaller person could be in danger of knocking themselves over with the powerful spray!

Here's the link:

There was even a computer for our own use. But we couldn't get the TV to work at all. When the owner returned he found out the cable had been cut or wasn't working to our building, but no one could come from the cable company until the day we were leaving -- who knew they had Comcast in Amsterdam with the same service as here? LOL

We've been to Amsterdam several times and it seems that we've usually spent most of our days outside the city doing daytrips, so this time we mainly stayed right in town. It was nice to have a full week (July 10 to 17). We did spend one day however going to Appledoorn -- just over an hour by train -- and then taking a bus to Het Loo, the Royal Palace and gardens there. The house was indeed interesting, with rooms from various periods of time through the line of the Orange/Nassau Kings and Queens. The gardens are nothing short of spectacular.

We did the Van Gogh museum again -- love it -- except it was so jam packed all you could do was move along with the line of people. I think it was the most crowded museum I've ever been in. The huge Max Beckman expostion adjoining, however, was almost deserted.

Otherwise we mainly went off to another area of town each day and just walked and explored. And we seemed to spend an amazing amount of time just sitting having coffee (or Lee's hot chocolate) or an afternoon wine. Cafe culture is alive and well in Amsterdam.

So where did we eat?

First night we walked in the rain to Maya, one of those supposedly cheap Argentine steak places at the Leidsplein. OK, but when a group of 8 guys from England sat down behind us it bacame one huge cloud of smoke. I was done eating and went outside to sit at a table while Lee finished his meal (another hour or so) as it didn't bother him. I immediately realized how nice those no-smoking rules in Italy now are. I also say "supposedly cheap" because in retrospect it was almost as expensive overall as nearly every other WONDERFUL meal we had -- and this one was only so-so.

The Pancake Bakery -- near Anne Frank House, great place for breakfast or lunch. Super pancakes AND omelettes.

Haesje Claes, one of the most traditional (and I think the oldest) Dutch restaurant in the city. Very good, and while I think of it as geared to tourists, the very nice local lady and her two teenaged children next to us struck up a conversation. They live on the outskirts of Amsterdam and say they always eat there when they come into town for shopping. She says it makes her miss her mother and grandmother's cooking.

Small Talk, a big pub-like place near the Van Gogh. I had the BEST lunch ever -- chicken livers, mushrooms, onions and bacon fried in Dutch butter with a fried egg on top! If you listen closely you can still hear my arteries clogging.

Balthazar's Kitchen: Who here told us about this place? It was great. Only open three nights a week, it's a small storefront in Jordan with an open kitchen and this 30-something woman who does all the cooking (although that night she was being assisted by her 10 year old daughter -amazing to watch as she was doing everything as her mother supervised). You start with a wonderful platter of about 9 different appetizers: beggar's purses filled with shredded duck, whole pickeled shrimp, a couple things with salmon, and others. Then you choose between three main courses -- I had a rib eye with carmelized onions and lemon cous-cous; Lee had swordfish with spinach and crabmeat risotto. Then a banana bread pudding with custard. It was a charming experience and the food was sensational (cost for two with wine -- 67.50 euro)

Uyt -- this was a recommendation of our landlord and we ate there two times -- against our usual rule. This is contemporary or "trendy" dining. Every dish was fairly complex and beautifully served. I loved touches like the little vine of still attached grape tomatoes run under the broiler draped across my wild salmon on a bed of chopped cucumber and baby prawns, all drizzled with a roasted tomato reduction. This place was right around the corner from us -- reservations a must, but we did them both times the day we went -- on Runstrasse near Prinsengracht. Cost for two including three courses with wine: about 80 euros both nights.

Lust (would you believe there is also an Envy, not related, about a block away -- only in Amsterdam!): More contemporary dining and almost as good as Uyt -- practically next door to it. Leg of lamb with lamb sausage on a bed of lemon-potato mash with fresh asparagus; herring, beet, and fennel salad; lemon-yoghurt pudding with apples and blueberries.

Luden -- an old favorite at Spui. A sort of cross between brasserie, contemporary, and traditional food. I had a market special of three different kinds of whitefish -- grilled, fried, and steamed --all on a mushroom risotto.

The Amsterdam Cafe -- this is a fun place, we went for lunch when it was very quiet, but supposedly very busy at night. It's in a huge Victorian pump house at the end of the tram line at Watertowerplein (?). I had the BEST mussels. Incidentally we found getting tap water in Amsterdam a problem despite the fact their water is great. Two places actually told us that it is a strict restaurant policy NOT to serve tap water. When we could get it, it was usually just a glass of tap water. But at Amsterdam Cafe, they brought us a giant pitcher filled with ice and tap water. They won me over on that alone.

I found the Dutch people so much more friendly that I had noticed before. We seemed to find ourselves surrounded by locals at most of our restaurants and invariably when they realized we were American they would all strike up conversations.

Our host (who lives upstairs and runs a gallery/school on the ground floor of the same building apologized he couldn't spend more time with us. He was out of town when we got there, came home for only one day and then was off to the Biennale in Venice, where we had just come from.

NeoPatrick is online now  
Aug 12th, 2007, 06:14 AM
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Great report, probably one of the best synopsis of an Amsterdam trip I ever read on this forum. Have an awesome time!!
Viajero2 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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Having great fun following you around Europe through your trip reports, NeoP!

Try this link to your Amsterdam apartment:


(Still bummed that Concertje has disappeared)
Betsy is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Thankyou Patrick, we will be staying in an Untours apartment for two weeks in Leiden in April/May and your report will be very helpful.
ronkala is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 08:04 AM
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Betsy, thanks for the working link. How weird that I copied and pasted from the actual link, but it doesn't work. I'm not sure how that one hyphen disappeared.

Hey, it was after looking for your Concertje place and finding it gone that we stumbled on my great artery clogging lunch, so I was happy you sent us on that wild goose chase.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Aug 12th, 2007, 08:19 AM
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Great looking apartment. Lust and Envy-- too funny! Thanks for allowing us to share your trip vicariously.
lucy_d is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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The apt looks lovely.

I ate at Balthazar's Kitchen 2 years ago and it was great! I think I initially read about it on NYT. And couldn't agree more about how friendly the Dutch people are. And their English is excellent.

I hated Amsterdam when I visited there back in the early 1990s (I was young, broke and tired from an overnight coach ride). However, on my subsequent visit in 2005, I really enjoyed the city a lot.
yk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 12:02 PM
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We just came back from Amsterdam and loved it too. The people were great and it's east to walk to everything. We second the Pancake Bakery. I read about it here on Fodors. It was terrific! The only bad restaurant experience we had was at Zinc. Terrible food and worse service.
espinach1 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 12:05 PM
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Sorry about my spelling. I really should preview my reply. I meant that it was easy to walk to everything, not east.
espinach1 is offline  
Aug 12th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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hi neo patrick
often there are people at Fodor's who you feel you'd be enriched by knowing, and you are one of those.
i read your london trip report and was so impressed by the type of person you seem to be.
then i read the nasty comment by someone in idaho and felt i had to write to tell you (you already know this i'm sure) how much you must mean to all the others who wrote to apologize for idaho's crudness.
nanabee is online now  
Aug 15th, 2007, 12:19 PM
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starrsville is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:34 PM
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samsmom1127 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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The Luden is also one of my favorites. I'll have to check out your other favored eateries.
hopscotch is offline  

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