Staring at Jacob

This great little brunch-and-cocktails place is located on a corner of Amsterdam where Staringstraat IMG_2609meets Jacob van Lennepkade (Staring + Jacob = clever name!). Having sampled the brunch on one previous occasion, we decided to head there last Sunday (along with the camera) and fill up on more delights before a long walk through the city.

 

The combinations on the menu do seem a little odd – Yorkshire puddings crop up in plates which also feature ratatouille – but they do have simple offerings in the ‘sides’ section of the menu, so you could always create your own fare. We both opted for ‘The all-rounder’, as you can see in the picture below:

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Needless to say, we both cleared our plates, drank all of the maple syrup and felt throughly satisfied. Callum also discovered a new beer he’s rather fond of, which is turns out, is from an Amsterdam-based brewery.

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Below are some shots of the cafe itself. We got there at just the right time as there was a table available straight away but by the time we were finished, a chatty queue was building and the bar seating was full of people ordering beers and delicious-looking cocktails (it was about 12:30 by this point, on a Sunday. Definitely drinking time!).

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If you want to see more pictures then head to their Tumblr site or if you’re in the area head over and sample their delights for yourself. It’s still a new place; you don’t have to scroll far down on the Tumblr feed before you get to the construction pictures! I will definitely be heading back for more pancakes and syrup… Perhaps some cocktails will also be sampled??

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(Just one more picture of the food. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

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Crackin’ curry

Taken from the BBC’s Good Food website, this Chickpea, tomato and spinach curry is not only awesome but really healthy, which (let’s be totally honest with ourselves) doesn’t happen that often. “You’ve made me healthy vegan food? Mmmm, I can’t wait to try this wet cardboard with damp, old vegetation.”

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I made it for the second time this week, but substituted the broccoli with yellow pepper and potato. I reduced the amounts and still got three servings, chucking in some spicy chicken with the last of it. I am stuffed but very satisfied… now where’s the cake?

Superleuke high tea

Being in another country forces you to realise how much you enjoy (some of) the culinary fare from home – I think we may have mentioned this before. Call me crazy but I believe there are still a fair few people out there unwilling to give British food the credit it often deserves.

Tonight, feeling a little nostalgic, we recreated a taste of home. We started sensibly, with sandwiches – crusts cut off of course. One could not possible eat crusts

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… because you need to keep room for the puddings:

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Not quite as good as my mum’s scones, but still a pretty tasty treat. If you’re ever in England with a chance for a cream tea, this is what you should be served, along with pot of tea. (Try to make sure it’s clotted cream – there’s nothing quite like it. And it’s impossible to get over here.)

And if that weren’t enough we also had some pretty tasty brownies:

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Along with big mugs of tea, of course. We’re English, don’t you know.

Café De Koe

The Cow Café is minutes from Leidseplein, so there is no excuse for going to one of the four Irish bars on Amsterdam’s brightest square.

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Thankfully, the cow theme is minimal and only maintained by some bull horns protruding from the bar wall. Speaking of decor- the aluminum wall panel behind the bar is inexplicable and tasteless. Please remove. The other walls support interesting ‘Warholesque’ art.

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For the price, the food is decent. Expect hearty and heavy meals, and for €15 for a main, it’s hard to do better so central.

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Venue: 7/10

Split level bar area provides more space than the typical Dutch bar whilst maintaing a cosy, wintery feel. The restaurant downstairs is altogether different and just as homely.

Beer: 6/10

Stocking La Trappe Isid’or demands a visit to the cow all by itself, and there are 16 others of you have no taste-buds to look after.

Hotel Old Nickel

The most interesting thing about the Old Nickel is probably that the wood paneling is salvaged from the captain’s cabin of a 17th century Dutch warship.

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The Old Nickel is either full or empty, which are both good states, depending on one’s mood. If you’re not fussy, you can lodge here cheaply and sleep well knowing you are upstairs from a 60+ strong beer selection.

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On the strength of Tim Skelton’s recommendation in ‘Around Amsterdam in 80 Beers’, we plumped for a round of the unpronounceable Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier (5.1%). This author felt it tasted like drinking smoked sausage, but it was thoroughly enjoyed by the rest of the group. Given the strong flavour, it came as something of a surprise to discover Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is served in pints, which led to the unanimous and wise conclusion that “it’s definitely not a session beer”.

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The Best Bitterballen in Amsterdam: Café Luxembourg

Proudly emblazoned on the menus of Café Luxembourg is the outlandish claim that they serve the best bitterballen in town.

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Café Luxemburg

A bitterballen is usually translated as ‘meat ragu’, but really it’s a dull grey paste of non-descript meaty origin encased in a batter of breadcrumbs, deep-fried. Sounds awful, but with a beer and some mustard, they are a great health snack.

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Café Luxembourg attempts to glam-up this very unglamorous snack which rather retracts from the point and charm of a bitterballen. Unquestionably tastier, but so is cake, but you wouldn’t eat that with a pint, right?

Freshest Heineken in Amsterdam

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Opposite the original Heineken brewery is a quintessentially Dutch brown bar- Café Berkhout. If Heineken was still brewed there, then this would be the freshest; straight from source.

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Old Heineken Brewery behind the tram

As Heineken is crap, thankfully, they sell other beers: some of the excellent trappist beers in bottles and the increasingly popular but still good De Koninck and La Chouffe.

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The real appeals of this snug little bar is the cosy, welcoming atmosphere and the excellent people-watching opportunities- especially from the comfy seats in the bay window at the front.

Best Indian Restaurant in Amsterdam: Mayur.

With Indonesia being a former Dutch colony, the thrust of ethnic restaurants are Indonesian- one of which even proudly wears a Michelin Star.

Best pakora ever?

So when it comes to Indian food, our first attempt was a sorry disappointment and deterred us since. Enter: Mayur.

Amuse-bouche of Indian treats

The menu is extensive so chosing just one dish is a real challenge – luckily you can order one of the set menus and try 7 dishes in one (sizable) meal.

 

Uncharacteristically of Dutch restaurants, bars or anywhere demanding public service, the waiting was attentive, quick and polite! Lounging to the east of the Leidseplein, Mayur is really quite different to a lot of the fare in this popular nightspot and is well worth finding. Top marks all round.

 

 

The Taart van m’n Tante

My Auntie’s Cake is a modern Dutch institution. I don’t say that lightly- Johan Cruyff eats there.

The creators have been making specialist cakes for over 20 years now, but their psychedllic offense of a shop is quite new and very garish. Which they have strangely opened up for overnight guests (here)- yes, you can sleep in a cake shop.

The interior of this place looks like they covered it in glue and dragged it through an outlet store called Camp Kitsch Things.

Dutch Apple Tart. Auntie’s recipe, I reckon.

 

The cakes are pretty good and the staff were friendly, so you could do worse for a sugar fix/guilty gluttoning/shelter from the rain.