I can finally reveal what I was up to in Amsterdam with the Waldorf Astoria and Hilton team and I have to be honest, as a travel and wellness blogger, it’s one of my personal favourite campaigns to date since I started www.carlyneave.com.
Whilst I could describe this Amsterdam campaign in all its gloriously exotic culinary delights, bottom line, I ate. As much and as often as possible, at some of the best and most undiscovered gems around Amsterdam city. And right now, my only job is to tell you all about it. Yes regrettably, I may have put on a few Ibs in the short 4-day trip by consuming FAR more food than is ever necessary (or acceptable) in a 72-hour time period, but boy have I brushed up on my local gastronomy knowledge and you can now glean all of that from me, without the added kg.
Disclaimer: this campaign has been 3 months in the making with a lot of work gone in behind the scenes so joking aside, I hope you find all these suggestions helpful and unique and would love to hear your feedback on these types of culinary and travel blogs so please comment below or connect with me on Instagram here.
This is my third trip to Amsterdam and it’s no secret that it’s a haven for “boutique” restaurants and cafes that are unique to the city. Chocolate and sprinkle-layered caramel waffles and quaint, shabby-chic breakfast spots that serve surprisingly great selections of vegan cakes and rolled waffles. It’s home to the quirky Avocado Show and the infamous Food Hallen (dangerous on an empty stomach!), but what about the rest? What about the exquisite and contemporary side of dining, the farm-to-table restaurants and the hero chefs of the city…
Staying at one of the most historic and beautiful hotels I’ve visited, my plan was to match the two experiences. How can you garner the same level of exquisite indulgence from local restaurants that you experience whilst staying at the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam? Ultimately, this is in effect a bucket-list trip with all the restaurants less than a 15 minute drive from the hotel itself … but naturally feel free to take and leave as you please!
Restaurant De Kas
This is the ultimate farm-to-table spot in Amsterdam, with the building being an actual greenhouse itself (temperature regulations in place, do not fear!). It’s a huge space, set back across a bridge on top of a lake, not akin to any of the other Amsterdam restaurant we went to. The exquisite food is served on a set menu basis, with an option of 5-6 dishes (with wine pairing) and a cheese platter add-on if you have the room. The girlfriend I took with me (@Iantherose) is vegan which turned out to be hugely beneficial in learning which of the restaurants could accommodate her in a more compelling way than ‘green salad’. De Kas welcomed altering all her dishes to make them vegan-friendly without even slightly comprising on taste (I can vouch – because naturally my own 5 dishes weren’t enough …). The restaurant uses whatever produce they can that is grown inside the greenhouse but they also have a field in the Beemster region where they house all the vegetables and herbs. Along with a chefs table, conservatory for drinks and a patio that opens in the summer, it’s a year-round destination that offers exceptional dining in a buzzing and warm environment.
The first visit in our whistle-stop tour of Amsterdam’s culinary best. An unassuming glass fronted specialty coffee shop with Nordic-inspired interiors and fabulous avocado on toast! A concise menu is served all day from 8am-6pm, offering up much-loved plates from pancake stacks and French toast to sourdough topped with all things good. Also, a perfect place to grab a perfectly home-cooked cheesecake or gluten-free slice of red velvet. It may not be a Michelin-star restaurant but as far as idyllic coffee shops go, I fell a little in love with Coffee Sometime.
I had heard rave reviews about Choux but looking across the web, I honestly wasn’t too sure. The hero image of the interiors looked cold and semi nightclub-esque but I’m pleased to say, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Choux does stand somewhat on its own (not somewhere you could pop into the next-door bar) but I don’t suspect that tends to ever be an issue. It has quite a romantic feel to it in a way, although, the guests seemed to be made up of mostly local diners enjoying a dinner out with friends over fine-food and wine. There’s nothing pretentious about the place, but equally not somewhere you’d get odd looks if you wanted to put on a pair of heels!
The food really is the juicier part of the conversation though; a set course menu again, this time 3,4,5 or 10 courses with the option of wine pairing and an unmissable celebration of the ingredients themselves running throughout the menu. I loved this. Only 4 core ingredients are used in each dish, dried, roasted, smoked and steamed in all ways I didn’t know was possible! The vegan options were some of the most picturesque creations I have seen and service was incredibly knowledgeable and genuinely passionate. It’s a slam-dunk of a restaurant – warm atmosphere, stunning food and intimate interiors. Yes, please!
Coffee & Coconuts
Disclaimer: Be prepared to queue on a weekend! I guess it’s fair to say Coffee & Coconuts is not a hidden gem, being a favourite amongst locals and pretty much anyone visiting Amsterdam with a camera in tow! It does, however, deserve its spot here because they haven’t landed where they are by good fortune. Granted, the service could be quicker and a touch more aware but I’m going to put that down to Saturday rush hour. If you want berry-compote pancake stacks lavished in whipped cream, vibrant green smoothie bowls and comfy lounge sofas that you can pass the morning with, Coffee & Coconuts is your jam. Vegan-friendly however … not as much just FYI. There’s a few options but surprisingly sparse for what we assumed. Still worth a trip for the coffee!
Oh, J’adore! This place is just Paris on a plate! Created by the sons of famous French chef Alain Caron, this is the family’s second restaurant in Amsterdam with the more fine-dining Café Caron coming a few years earlier. Lunch times are quite quiet even on weekends but you will struggle to get a table for dinner so book early! It’s truly authentically French – the interiors are a memoir from my honeymoon in Paris – so cosy and the kind of place you can settle in for hours too long. From creamy burrata to freshly shucked oysters and sardines in tinn lathered with olive oil, it’s a tasting frenzy. When the sun shines in Amsterdam, their Parisian-style red-topped circular terrace tables will be my first point of call.
Inspired by the Goldfinch bird that used to flood the gardens of the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam (Side note: still the largest private garden in the whole city!), this restaurant is something quite spectacular. The service at the Waldorf in general, but particularly at the restaurants, was by far the best we received throughout the entire stay, in fact, it was utterly faultless without being even an inch overbearing, and the food sings from the same hymn sheet. With the current head chef having won ‘Best Vegetarian Chef’ *(Need to fact check) in Amsterdam, you’re in for quite a treat and one can’t help but feel that Goldfinch draws strong inspiration from the Waldorf’s own two Michelin Star Spectrum restaurant. It’s more than worth a visit! P.s the breakfast is equally as impressive, a very ‘Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s’ style affair!
I’ve saved the best till last because whilst the above are extremely strong contenders for my perfect meal, Daalder must win the gastronomic prize – their work is unquestionably brilliant. It’s food that takes you on a journey, making you question the mysterious ‘corn on the cob’ plate in front of you that is in-fact a meringue-inspired dessert, to the powerful flavours that shine through each and every dish both in smell and flavour … and don’t even get me started on the interiors! Flooded with natural light, a New York style marble-topped bar and spacious yet closely-packed tables of 2,4 and 6 running streamline along the windows. It’s simply brilliant and you must go!
Watch my 10 second round-up of my stay!