So what is Dutch food? None of us really knew when we landed in Amsterdam but luckily for us, Amsterdam is filled with plenty of different restaurants in their lively entertainment quarters. We lived close to one called Leidseplein which boasted all sorts of cuisines for us to choose from.
One of the nights we set out to finally discover what Dutch traditional cuisine actually was and we found it at De Blauwe Hollander, which is on one of the alleys in Leidseplein. The restaurant is dimly lit and filled with long wooden furniture and quite packed when we arrive. We ordered stamppots, which translates into “mash pot” and is pretty much mashed potatoes mixed with different kinds of vegetables and meat. I chose one that came with bacon, endives and meatball with gravy.
Endives Stamppot – €11.50
The mash was delectably creamy and the taste of the endives is pretty bland in comparison, it is just a steamed leafy vegie chopped and mixed into the mash. The stamppot is a hearty and filling meal with all the meat and the carbs from the potato mash. The gravy goes well with the lightly crunchy bacon and the meatball is appropriately chewy and salty but not overly so. It is nothing amazing flavour wise, especially not compared to the flavoursome Belgian dishes we had just feasted on prior to entering the Netherlands.
We also tried the curly kale stamppot, which comes with sausages and gravy. Despite the cute name of “curly” kale, again the vegetable is quite bland as it is a kind of cabbage but the sausages were quite tasty and delivered a much needed flavour hit to the dish.
Curly kale stamppot – €12.25
I wouldn’t say that Dutch traditional cuisine has a lot to offer in terms of flavours and variety, though admittedly we didn’t try many other forms of savoury Dutch food apart from the stamppot. We did have some little Dutch pancakes (“poffertjes”) for breakfast one of the mornings, and while it was interesting to watch the stall owner cook the pancakes in little half spherical batter pans (similar to a takoyaki pan, with rows of small half circles for the batter to be placed into), the smell of the cooking pancakes was more enticing than the actual taste of the pancakes. Rather disappointingly, they were just mini pancakes with a dusting of icing sugar on top and some butter – not particularly fluffy or sweet.
Poffertjes – €7.50
Our best meal in Amsterdam was actually at a sports bar offering all you can eat spare ribs with salad and potatoes for only €9.95 – what a bargain! On the main street in Leidseplein, many of the restaurants have a sign outside offering a similar meal deal but apart from this sports bar, all were priced at €13.50-€13.75, which made our decision of where to try these spare ribs a lot easier to make.
We were a bit wary about the quality of these spare ribs, thinking that it was likely to be a tourist trap but figured that even if it was crap, it would fill us up anyway. We were pleasantly surprised to find a generous serving of a rack of spare ribs with a beautifully glazed marinade, plenty of leafy green salad and a choice of either fries or baked potato with sour cream as well as a pot of either garlic or barbeque sauce.
Spare ribs – €9.95
I went for the garlic sauce of course, but the spare ribs were so flavoursome from the marinade (a kind of BBQ sauce) that the garlic sauce was barely even needed. As for the taste of the spare ribs? Think of Hurricanes or Ribs and Rumps in Sydney – but 10 times better and much better value. I’m not even a fan of spare ribs and I happily gobbled up my whole rack of ribs and asked for a second serving (which I half finished) – they were THAT good. You don’t get a refill of any of the other things except for the spare ribs but it’s fine because you don’t want to fill yourself up with carbs from the potatoes anyway. I would say the spare ribs meal was definitely one of our culinary highlights from the Europe trip, so definitely try them out if you’re heading to Amsterdam in the future.
Restaurant De Blauwe Hollander
1017 RJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: 020 6270521