Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Monday, February 23, 2015

[Travel] Another weekend in Amsterdam

We recently returned to the Netherlands, and more specifically to Amsterdam, for a little weekend away. Even though it's been 4 years since I left Amsterdam, I immediately feel at home and comfortable whenever I return. In a city where bicycles outnumber residents, it's so tempting to fall into the Amsterdam cliches of the Red Light district, canals, coffee shops and bicycles. However, if you dig a little deeper and head away from the tourist spots, Amsterdam is a stylish city with many hidden gems.

Following out check in at the hotel, we set off down Overtoom in the bright winter sunshine. We had a specific target in mind, namely the delicious burgers at the fun and lively Cafe Parck. I had first discovered Cafe Parck when living in Amsterdam, and I had fallen heard for their tasty burgers (plus the fact that they have a cat living in the bar). We both ordered the Fabulous Twinburgers, with a portion of parmesan fries and samurai sauce to share. Each portion consisted of two perfectly cooked (medium rare) juicy burgers, complete with all trimmings. The burgers were every bit as good as I remembered, getting our Amsterdam visit off to a flying start.
Twin burgers at Cafe Parck 
Menu at Cafe Parck
Leaving Cafe Parck, we hopped onto the tram and headed north to Central Station. From there, it was a 5 minute walk in the very very cold air to one of Amsterdam's finest cocktail bars. Hiding in Plain Sight sits quietly on the corner of two streets in a residential area and serves drinks across two small floors. Given the small size of the bar, reservations are always a good idea here. The prices aren't cheap, but the exquisitely turned out staff produce some damn fine drinks.  Here, we sampled a selection of seasonal drinks, including cocktails based on sugarsnap peas and christmas cake-infused brandy. All excellent. 
Citron Brûlée at Hiding in Plain Sight
South Snap at Hiding in Plain Sight
The next day, we checked out the newly opened Nacional for a light lunch. The vibe at Nacional is French brasserie, with high ceilings, exposed brickwork and white linen. It feels immediately classic and is a very welcome addition to the touristy venues scattered around Leidseplein. An open tartine sandwich plus a plate of melted brie with roasted red onion set us up nicely for an afternoon of strolling. 
The interior at Nacional
Brie with roasted red onion at Nacional
On Saturday night, we caught yet another tram, this time heading west to the renovated de Hallen. Dinner was reserved at Meat West, a new restaurant firmly targeted at meat lovers. Box iron frames help section the restaurant which sits in a old tram repair shed. Prices aren't cheap here, and service was somewhat slow, but the quality of the steak and the whole roast spring chicken were excellent.

After our dinner, we left Meat West with the intention of having a look around the rest of the de Hallen complex. We wandered through the crowds in the Foodhallen, marveling at the variety of food stalls. In fact, we liked the Foodhallen so much that we returned the very next day for lunch. Read more about our visit here
The interior of Meat West, in de Hallen
Smoked beef ribeye with parmesan cracker
Marinated salmon
Dry-aged ribeye
Grilled whole spring chicken with lemon
On this trip to Amsterdam, we mixed it up with some favourites (Cafe Parck and Hiding in Plain Sight), while adding in some new finds (Meat West and Nacional). The wonderful Foodhallen will be a regular fixture on future visits to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is indeed a city that's worth investigating.

Cafe Parck, Overtoom 428, Amsterdam 1054 JV
Tel: +31 (0)20 412 5335
Twitter: @CafeParck

Hiding in Plain Sight, Rapenburg 18, Amsterdam 1011 TX
Tel: +31 (0)6 25 29 36 20
Twitter: @HPSAmsterdam

Nacional, Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 11A, Amsterdam 1017RP
Tel: +31 (0)20 205 0908

Meat West, Bellamyplein 51, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 2181 776

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