Posted by Krista on June 25, 2012
I went to Amsterdam the other weekend for a friend’s 40th birthday party. Lest you vastly overestimate my personal wealth, I flew for free on United using miles, so that was awesome. And then what was even more awesome was that I stayed at The Hotel Pulitzer in the Nine Streets part of town using my Starwood American Express points. (Lots of good shopping and restaurants in the Nine Streets area. My kind of area.)
The Pulitzer is a pretty good quality hotel, if a tiny bit dated. No complaints really. And even fewer complaints because I was staying for FREE. My only beef would be (of course) the lack of free wifi. You have to pay something like 20 euros a day for Internet access, which is highway robbery in this day and age. Pure profit for the hotel. Bugs me. But if I wanted a centrally located hotel with an onsite bar and restaurant and turn down service on request (always a sucker for turn down service), I would stay here again.
After I slept off my jetlag, I dropped into the tiny and modern Van Haarte on Hartenstraat in the Nine Streets for a quick snack before doing some shopping. I had some bitterballen–fried Dutch meatballs–and a glass of wine and moved on. I liked Van Haarte, but I think I was lucky to get a table. Call first. (Can I also note how much I’ve missed the price of a glass of wine in Europe? 125 ml of good quality for 4.50 euros. That’s less than $6.)
The next morning, I was boring. (I will not dare to portray that I lead an exciting life. Sometimes I just lie around all day, reading trashy magazines.) I had lunch at the hotel restaurant before meeting my friends for a canal ride. Normally, I run away (fast) when people suggest eating at any hotel’s restaurant. But I had mistakenly slept until noon and didn’t have much time before the boat ride. Restaurant Keizersgracht 238 at The Pulitzer was a pleasant surprise. The Aberdeen Angus Tournedos and the lovely onion rings really could not be faulted and the service doted on me completely without being creepy or annoying.
And then somewhere in Amsterdam, hours later and in the dark and cold and after drinking liters of champagne and dancing like crazy with obscenely fit and thin and beautiful French people and then being hand-fed more oysters than I can remember by this man, we lit what felt like dozens upon dozens of lanterns for our friend’s birthday and let them loose into the night sky. A beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend.
Posted in Amsterdam, Hotels, Netherlands | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on March 11, 2009
1012 VX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date of Last Visit: Monday, February 23, 2009
The Victims: Jeff, Pieter, Simone
The Damage: Unknown! Jeff paid.
The Background: It's my first full day in the Amsterdam office and we make plans to go out to dinner. Only problem is that no one can decide where. I liked Envy so much that I would seriously go back, but being the selfish person that I am, I'd also like to see a bit more of Amsterdam. Jeff suggests Luden and makes us a booking.
The Entrance: Luden is off the main tourist drag, and for that I am grateful. That being said, thank God for my CrackBerry and Google Maps because otherwise, we never would have gotten there! We enter and it's all golden and candlelit. And well, a little bit dirty. I don't know, maybe it's just me.
We get a table across from the kitchen and I can watch the dishwasher half-heartedly hose the dishes down before putting them in one of those big silver boxes where God knows what happens to them.
The Food: Beef carpaccio for me to start and, well, it's just fine. It's hard to screw up meat and cheese. It's somehow not as good as the carpaccio Richard and Mireia made me before Christmas.
This was followed by kangaroo steak and potatoes. (I'm sorry. I couldn't resist it.) Hearty. And pedestrian. If you didn't go out to eat a lot, you'd probably be happy with this dish. But I thought it was pretty average and a cop-out. Green beans and potatoes! Exciting!!!
Oh, and my plate was dirty.
The Verdict: Eh. Okay. But not great.
Posted in Amsterdam, Netherlands | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on March 10, 2009
1016 HL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Victim: Pieter
The Damage: About 80 euros
The Background: Pieter, one of my co-workers, has offered to meet me for Sunday dinner. He's picked the place and we wander along the wondrously lit canals through Amsterdam's tony Nine Streets area to our destination. I peek in everyone's windows along the way because you know, in Amsterdam, people don't believe in window blinds. Yup, that's right. You can see right into everyone's homes. It's a bit crazy, but Pieter explains that if someone does move onto a street and keep their blinds closed, everyone starts thinking they must be doing something illegal!
The Entrance: envy is modern and dark and has an open kitchen that you can see into from the street. I like this openness. It bodes well, I hope. We're given a choice of a high-table or a low-table and we opt for the low. The restaurant is packed for a Sunday night, and Pieter explains that Sunday is still a big night for the Dutch to go out for dinner. (Pieter, I should mention, is Belgian, not Dutch.)
The Service: My friends Ted and Eve have warned me that Dutch service can be painfully slow. Ted and Eve are French, to put their comment in a bit of perspective. The service at envy IS painfully slow. We're left waiting forever before we're given a menu and then it's ages more before we're asked if we'd like any wine and then it's even more ages later before we can order our food. Luckily, I have nowhere to be.
The Food: Holy cow but the food is GREAT! My risotto is lovely and really creamy in a "no cream or cheese added" kind of way (as it should be), And they've given me a perfect strip of bacon and some pine nuts. I am tempted to order a second portion. But I don't. This is followed by some courgettes wrapped around the softest and lightest of cheeses. This could have only been better if it had been 30 degrees Celsius outside.
The Verdict: I really enjoyed my meal here. If I lived in Amsterdam, I'd go here all the time.
Posted in Amsterdam, Netherlands | 4 Comments
Posted by Krista on March 9, 2009
Thai Snackbar Bird
1012 AS Amsterdam
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, February 22, 2009
The Victim: Me
The Damage: 10 euros or so
The Background: I am in Amsterdam for work and as I check in at the hotel, I ask the woman behind the desk if there's a restaurant close by that's small and neighborhoody and not too touristy. She writes down the same of a place–Cafe de Jaren–and I head up to my room to Google it.
The first thing that comes up says, "Cafe de Jaren opened its doors in june 1990 as one of the largest cafes in Amsterdam."
Hmmm. Not for me.
So I go back to my e-mail exchange with the mysterious Dutch Grub earlier. He/She had recommended a few places, and Thai Snackbar Bird was one of them, and it sounds like the perfect place to go for lunch before I meet up with my friends Ted and Eve later.
The Entrance: It's TINY. Like four tables tiny. And a few seats along the window. I take one of the window seats and quickly place my order. Some garlic beef and some white rice.
The Food: Arrives quickly and it's piping, piping hot. It's good and filling and flavorful, and I wish I wasn't alone because I would have liked to try some other dishes. A noodle dish. A vegetable dish. But alas, that is more than I can handle on my own.
The Verdict: Unpretentious. Honest. Convenient. (If you're in Amsterdam, that is.)
Posted in Amsterdam, Netherlands | 1 Comment