Review: De Pannenkoekenboot, Amsterdam

I had quite a stereotypically Dutch experience with our meal at De Jonge Dikkert – locally sourced ingredients served to you in a windmill seems pretty Dutch right? The only stereotypes missing were tulips on the table and waiters wearing clogs.

The day after our meal at De Jonge Dikkert, I had what my Dutch friend Emma claims to be another unmissable Dutch experience – Dutch pancakes, or Pannenkoeken. She came to see me in Amsterdam and took K and I out for a lunch buffet on De Pannenkoekenboot, a boat that cruises around Amsterdam Harbour while guests enjoy 75 minutes of unlimited pancakes and pancake toppings. How many pancakes do you think I managed to eat?

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De Pannenkoekenboot sails from the north of Amsterdam, so if you are staying in the main part of Amsterdam like all the other tourists, you will need to catch a ferry across from the back of Amsterdam Centraal station to NDSM-Werf. It’s a very quick ferry ride – and free! There are other buses (ticket required) that take you close to the departure point, but the ferry is much more convenient.

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I suggest booking your tickets online for a small discount, costing only $17.50 Euro per person for the unlimited pancakes. Three pancakes are on offer – a ‘spek’ (bacon), ‘appel’ (apple) and ‘naturel’ (plain). It’s definitely very different from the pancakes that I’ve made in the past – rather than being small sweet fluffy circles, these Dutch pancakes are very large and thin, like a French crepe.

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Once you choose which pancake you want, it’s time to add the toppings! There’s a range of toppings on offer – including nearly 20 sweet toppings like mini marshmallows, chocolate flakes, sugar, cinnamon sugar, hazelnut spread, rainbow sprinkles and more.

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If you’re looking for something more savoury, there’s two different types of cheeses (slices of brie and shredded emmental), salami, or ham. There’s also a range of fruits for those looking to eat more fruit, from tinned mixed fruit to peaches, pineapples, apricots, and more.

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If you like a classic pancake, there’s a small range of jams and honeys available as well. Strangely, some boiled eggs too. I suppose they might be for the spek/bacon pancakes, so you can have bacon and egg pancakes?

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Of course, I had to try one of every pancake. In fact, I may have tried two of every pancake, but I didn’t take photographic evidence of all six because the last thing I need is more proof of my gluttony…

First time around, I had the bacon pancake with schenkstroop (is that right Emma?) which is essentially the Dutch version of maple syrup. Simple and delicious – I love how they grill the bacon directly onto the pancake batter rather than simply adding it on top after the pancake has finished cooking.

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For my second plain pancake, I added on layers of brie cheese and additional ham and salami to make another savoury pancake. This was also pretty good, though it would have been better if the brie was a bit runnier. I still think cooking the bacon directly into the pancake batter works better than topping a pancake with cold meats like this.

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One final example of the many pancakes I ate that day – a sweet apple pancake topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, chocolate sprinkles, and mini chocolate candy. Colourful, sweet and fun, just as a treat like pannenkoeken should be. Baking the slices of sweet apple into the pancake batter works just as well as baking the bacon into the pancake as it seems to enhance the flavours.

Overall, I really enjoyed our buffet lunch on De Pannenkoekenboot. I ate too much of course, but that’s what always happens when it’s an open lunch buffet! You can really get your money’s worth ($17.50 per adult), and the bonus is that you get to cruise around the main Amsterdam waterways and see some nice views while you have lunch. Unfortunately the boat is too large to go down any canals, but it’s still a nice way to spend 75 minutes over lunch.

De Pannenkoekenboot Amsterdam is located at Ms. van Riemsdijkweg, 1033 RC Amsterdam.

Review: De Jonge Dikkert, Amstelveen, Amsterdam

The dinner I had at De Jonge Dikkert in Amstelveen (south of Amsterdam proper) rates as one of the most stereotypical meals I’ve had, and also one of the more alarming meals I’ve had as well. Stereotypical because De Jonge Dikkert is located inside a windmill – could you get more Dutch? Alarming because K had a bad reaction to some of Amsterdam’s more ‘interesting’ offerings which we had sampled earlier that afternoon, and almost passed out at the table halfway through the meal. That however is a story for another day!

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I first learnt about De Jonge Dikkert after looking up “National Restaurant Week” for the Netherlands, which happily coincided with the few days that we stayed in Amsterdam. During National Restaurant Week, a number of restaurants around the country offer special discounted set menus ($29.50 Euro for three courses) for new diners, offering a more affordable dining option to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to try a fancier place. It’s not unlike Australia’s Good Food Month in that regard.

There were a number of restaurants closer to the centre of Amsterdam offering National Restaurant Week menus, but I went past all of them and settled on De Jonge Dikkert. Its location inside a windmill definitely influenced my choice, but the main drawcard was their claim of using primarily local, seasonal ingredients. I wanted a nice meal using Dutch ingredients, not a fancy pan-Asian fusion meal using ingredients from all over the world.

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My cousin Charlene and her boyfriend George were in Amsterdam on the night that I booked the dinner, and so they joined us for one fancy meal out. The four of us stuck out like sore thumbs in the dining room amongst the other diners – we were a bit under-dressed in our travel-ready clothes, and were very clearly the only foreign tourists in the room as everyone else was very decidedly Dutch. Nevertheless, the wait staff were very accommodating and all spoke perfect English.

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Given that the menu for three courses was only $29.50, I didn’t expect any special starters or palate cleansers – so imagine my surprise when this cute little amuse bouche came out for our enjoyment. I’m going to be perfectly honestly – I can barely remember the key ingredients and flavours of this amuse bouche as it wasn’t long after this that K had his ‘episode’ and everything was a bit of a blur.

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This was the culprit for K’s episode – the glass of white wine. Combined with what he had had earlier, it resulted in a near fainting episode at the table. Full credit to the wait staff who were very supportive and helped us through what was quite an alarming situation.

Scallops with tagliatelle, creme of mushroom and summer truffle (supplement required)
Scallops with tagliatelle, creme of mushroom and summer truffle (supplement required)

Charlene had the Scallops with Tagliatelle, Creme of Mushroom and Summer Truffle as an entree, a special dish not part of the usual set menu that requires an additional small supplement fee. It’s well worth it though, with plump fresh scallops and a gorgeous little curl of home-made tagliatelle.

Tarte tatin red onion with duck liver, red berry and balsamic (supplement required)
Tarte tatin red onion with duck liver, red berry and balsamic (supplement required)

K had the Tarte Tatin of Red Onion, also a special entree requiring a supplement. This was well worth the additional cost – the red onion had been baked to soft caramelised perfection, and the pastry was lovely and crisp. The little dab of duck liver on the side was the perfect accompaniment, providing a little bit of savoury sensation to go with the sweet tarte.

Ceviche of seabass with watermelon, tomato, avocado and garlic
Ceviche of seabass with watermelon, tomato, avocado and garlic

The standard entree (no supplement charge) was the Ceviche of Seabass served with fresh spheres of watermelon  and tomato. I loved the freshness and simplicity of this dish – while there was nothing fancy about it, the use of fresh local ingredients really worked well. The tiny dots of avocado puree and garlic helped to add some additional bursts of flavour where it was required.

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Another little freebie came out after entrees – a clean and crisp palate cleanser shot of tomato and cucumber.

Plaice filet with Opperdoezer potato and watercress buttersauce
Plaice filet with Opperdoezer potato and watercress buttersauce

There were two choices for mains, and I chose the Plaice filet with Opperdoezer potato and watercress buttersauce. I’d never heard of an Opperdoezer potato before, and later Googling informed me that it was a Dutch potato, only available in summer and autumn and generally sold at auction. Talk about local ingredients! It made for a fantastic roast potato, with a crisp skin. The fish was done beautifully as well with nice crispy grilled skin on the outside and a firm and tender flesh.

BBQ roasted beef with string bean, sweet potato and gravy of red wine
BBQ roasted beef with string bean, sweet potato and gravy of red wine

K’s main of the BBQ roasted beef was a real winner – it tasted like it had been done the way beef should be cooked – on a high heat for a short amount of time. The strong seasoned and flavoured crust on the meat was beautiful with the pink tender medium steak. I really liked the sweet potato gratin served with the beef as well, providing a nice sweet side that went well with the red wine jus.

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Another additional mini-course between main and dessert was the house-made chocolate-covered speculoos ice-cream. I loved this – almost more than the actual dessert. You really can’t go past the combination of dark chocolate and cinnamon-spiced speculoos biscuit.

Blackberries with airy chocolate, nougat, caramel and salted peanuts
Blackberries with airy chocolate, nougat, caramel and salted peanuts

The dessert of Blackberries with airy chocolate was a nice blend of fresh plump blackberry, berry gelato, and a chocolate and caramel bar. There was almost a bit too much happening here, especially with the additional salted peanut crumble – but individually, all the elements were really delicious.

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I loved our dinner at De Jonge Dikkert. National Restaurant Week is a fantastic initiative for the Netherlands, and a great way of making sure that unique restaurants like this become accessible to tourists like us who wouldn’t normally travel out of our way to Amstelveen for a meal. While it’s a little bit out of the way for the average tourist, it’s really only a twenty minute drive from central Amsterdam…and quite cheap via Uber. I’d highly recommend De Jonge Dikkert for any visitors to Amsterdam who would like the novelty of eating a great meal in a windmill from the 1600s.

De Jonge Dikkert is located at Amsterdamseweg 104a, 1182 HG Amstelveen, Netherlands.

Review: CT Amsterdam Coffee & Coconuts, Amsterdam

On our second day in Amsterdam, K and I met up with my cousin Charlene and her boyfriend George who’ve been travelling around Europe for the past few months. Unfortunately the first few days we were there, the weather wasn’t particularly nice to us with intermittent showers. After the four of us struggled through a morning of rain at the Albert Cuyp Market (eating stroopwaffel and poffertjes!), we ran into the warm and inviting CT Amsterdam Coffee & Coconuts for lunch and to dry off!

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Coffee & Coconuts is a multi-storey cafe, built in what used to be an old movie theatre. The interior is all about exposed bricks and wooden beams, green plants, comfy couches, low coffee tables, and even squishy bean bags on the upper levels to chill out on.

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The clientele ranges from young friends having a catchup to business people having meetings. There’s quite a few people sitting around on their Macbooks doing a bit of work as well, taking advantage of the free Wifi. The cafe is definitely very hip and cool, and I feel a bit conservative in my practical travelling outfit!

Flat White ($3.50EU), Ginger Lemon Herbal Tea ($2.80EU) and Black Treasure Tea ($2.80EU)
Flat White ($3.50EU), Ginger Lemon Herbal Tea ($2.80EU) and Black Treasure Tea ($2.80EU)

We started off with some drinks all around for everyone except K. My cousin and I had a tea each (herbal for her, black tea for me) and George had a coffee. Having heard horror stories about the quality of espresso coffees around Europe when compared to the high quality coffees we get in Australia, we were doubtful about whether the flat white would be any good. George gave it the two thumbs up though, so Aussies take note – go to Coffee & Coconuts for decent espresso coffee if you’re in Amsterdam!

Black Treasure Tea ($2.80EU)
Black Treasure Tea ($2.80EU)

I really liked the way the style of teabag that my Black Treasure Tea came in. It was very thin and almost paper-like, but most interestingly, rather than being attached to a dangling string, the teabag had slots at the top through which you thread a chopstick to suspend the teabag in your glass. The chopstick then allowed you to swirl the teabag around for maximum steepage, before removing it altogether. Simple, but clever design. The only downside was that the tea itself wasn’t very strong – or there was simply too much hot water for the small amount of leaves in the teabag.

The Harry Nillson ($5.50EU)
The Harry Nillson ($5.50EU)

K’s Harry Nillson coconut came out quite a bit later than everyone else’s drinks, to the point that we thought that they had perhaps forgotten the order. Served with a simple squeeze of lime, the coconut had a huge amount of coconut water in it, and fresh young coconut flesh that you could scrape off the insides with a spoon. This was a surprisingly fresh coconut, and was positively comparable to some of the coconuts K had in Malaysia only one week earlier.

Scrambled eggs and avocado on sourdough ($8.50EU)
Scrambled eggs and avocado on sourdough ($8.50EU)

The scrambled eggs and avocado on sourdough seem to be Coffee & Coconuts signature brunch dish – almost every other person around us seemed to have ordered this dish. I could see why it was so popular though as the eggs were ridiculously smooth and creamy. However, there really wasn’t enough avocado on the sourdough.

CT;s beef burger Royale with cheese ($9.50EU)
CT’s beef burger Royale with cheese ($9.50EU)

K had the CT’s burger which had a super tender and juicy beef patty. The burger itself was quite small, but by the time you ate the thick beef patty, you were left comfortably full. I thought that the semi-melted cheese was a particular highlight, but the bun itself wasn’t anything special  – a brioche bun may have worked better.

Small summerbeet salad ($5.50EU)
Small summerbeet salad ($5.50EU)

In line with most of the meals we’ve had out so far, K and I also decided to order a salad to share. Feeling too lazy to go downstairs to check out the daily salads in the display cabinet, we chose a random salad off the menu – the summerbeet salad. It wasn’t quite the green leafy salad we were expecting, but it actually worked quite well with its natural crisp sweet flavours in the beetroot and the strawberries. The horseradish dressing was very light, and really helped to enhance and highlight the sweetness of the salad.

Sweet and spicy corn soup ($6.50EU)
Sweet and spicy corn soup ($6.50EU)

I wanted something warm after having battled the cold and the rain all morning, and decided that the soup would hit the spot quite well. The sweet and spicy corn soup was Mexican in style, with a slight chilli kick through the chipotle oil. Mostly though, it was simply a tasty herbed creamy corn soup, with some added texture through the fresh chives and popcorn scattered on top.

Coffee & Coconuts is a really cute hipster cafe in Amsterdam, and wouldn’t be out of place amongst the Newtown or Surry Hills scene in Sydney. The pricing is extremely reasonable when compared to some of the tourist-trap cafes in central Amsterdam, and you can visit knowing that you will be eating amongst locals, not other tourists. I’d definitely go back!

CT Amsterdam Coffee & Coconuts is located at Ceintuurbaan 282-284, Amsterdam.