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We had dinner at Fifteen, which is a Jamie Oliver venture. Like the restaurant of the same name in London (to which I've yet to visit), the idea here is that they take a bunch of delinquent, criminal-minded, done-time-in-the-big-house kids and slap 'em around with a kitchen knife and an apron until they get their shit together. In theory, they either drop out and go back to stealing bags from little old ladies, or start to behave themselves and become good little citizens. Let's just say that this knowledge keeps you from pissing off the waiter.

View in front of the restaurant

The location is a waterfront converted warehouse, and I've been seeing more and more of these cropping up lately. It's a fun alternative to the standard restaurant location, but does require a taxi ride or intimate knowledge of the area to find it. At some point you usually wonder if the taxi driver is taking you to the docks to relieve you of your money and dump your lifeless body in the ocean, but inevitably you end up at a fantastic restaurant, lite only an expensive cab fare.

Graffiti "Jamie woz ere"

Fifteen sports a large bar, open kitchen and a terribly amusing bathroom sign (sorry no photo, but imaging your standard bathroom gender-notifier characters standing cross legged grabbing their crotch, and you get the idea). Graffiti on the corrugated steel walls lets you know you're not at Nobu, and the polished cement floor and 30 foot ceilings add to the warehouse feel. The service was superb, and everyone had a great time. The menu was prix fix; one just has to tell 'em if you don't or can't eat anything on the list, then just sit back and watch the food parade by.

Nibblers… divine

Opening course was a smattering of nibbles, some of which were simply divine. The cheese bread, made with Manchego, I believe, was to die for, and everyone kept cutting the last piece in half again and again until only crumbs remained. The mozzarella and pesto was delicious, with a really high quality cheese. Beets with a light horse-radish cream sauce was very entertaining, and quite a unique but successful flavor.

Stinky cheese risotto and fig… unspeakable goodness

Second course was a light pasta with a fish on it; OK but not remarkable. However the alternative dish was out of this world. A risotto, made with a 'stinky cheese', was utterly sublime. The stench of the cheese was overwhelming for many, but I usually love the flavors of these cheeses so dove in. It did not disappoint. In the center of the mix was a fig, absolutely unusual and yet a perfect match to the strength of the cheese. Easily the best dish to cross our table that evening. I'd go back just for this.

Main course, and the meal goes downhill

The main course, frankly, didn't work. A thick cut of lamb, slightly overcooked, was served surrounded by a squash or pumpkin puree. Pretty to look at, but the high rating ended there. The lamb or puree on their own tasted fine, but really the combination of the two simply didn't impress. No one else seemed too enchanted with it either. Back to the drawing board on that one I'm afraid, Jamie.

Dessert… have had better

Desert was some kind of very-creamy ice cream on a sponge cake surrounded by raspberries. There was some kind of fruit-thing embedded in the cream, which was a bit odd. Again not terribly impressive overall, almost a case of trying too hard. I'd be more descriptive but to be honest by this point so much wine had flowed that if it weren't for the photo above, I'd probably not remember having it at all. So this meal started off amazing but ended on a low note. It's a fun experience and worth going, but do expect some oddities on the table that may not suit your palette. The risotto however is entirely worth the price of entry.

Fifteen Jollemanhof 9

1019 GW Amsterdam

+31 900-343-8336

(the street name of Jollemanhof doesn't show up on this map, but it does on others. It's right around here) rating: 4 feet, with reservations… but I would go again verdict: go for the rissoto


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Casa di David

Ah, Casa di David – Italian food. One of my favorite restaurants in Amsterdam. Always stellar quality, creative and fresh ingredients and always, always a pleasure. I've never had a bad meal here. A couple of highlights…

This pasta dish (above) had a black pasta that was to-die-for. We thought perhaps made withs squid ink, but the waiter said seaweed. Whatever it was, it was amazing. I'm sure it helped tremendously that it was cooked perfectly, and everyone was stealing bites from the plate. Simply divine.

Grilled lamb chops, delicious. Cooked nice and rare, as I like them. Naturally I had to pick them up with my fingers and gnaw on the bones… not very European, but whatever. Too good not to. (apologies for the crap photos… I forgot my camera and these are low-light iPhone shots)

Casa di David

Singel 426 1017 AV


+31 20-624-5093

View Larger Map rating: 5 feet verdict: make a reservation and go!

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Feduzzi, Mercato Italiano

This little Italian deli is one of my favorite treasures in Amsterdam. The quality is phenomenal, the deli counter gorgeous to look at, and the prices are more than fair.

Just a few Euro for a panini that will melt your mind. Lovely, lovely food. Their mozzarella waltzes across your tongue in bedroom slippers, the picante salami tango's in stiletto heels.

Feduzi, Mercato Italiano

Scheldestraat 63

1078 GH Amsterdam

+31 20-664-6365

View Larger Map rating: 5 feet verdict: sell your children to get there if you have to

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Puri Mas

Went to a big group dinner for Indonesian Rijsttafel (Reistafel; Rice Table) at a place called Puri Mas. It was good enough, but nothing stellar. It's off the Leidseplein, which is a heavily touristed area, so it's pretty much expected that anything around there will be only mediocre. I wouldn't go out of my way to go there again, and having been there before would prefer to see out something else. But if dragged there again, I wouldn't kick and scream too loud.

Puri Mas Indonesian Restaurant Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37-41 (first floor) 1017 NG Amsterdam

View Larger Map rating: 2 feet verdict: go only if asked


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Teppanyaki Nippon

Finally went out for a proper dinner last night for the first time. We were both in the mood for sushi, so we asked at the Concierge for a recommendation. They said that Teppanyaki Nippon, which is a teppanyaki house upstairs and sushi downstairs was good. So we went, and it was only mediocre. The sushi bar was the right height for a 5-year old (surprising since the average height in Holland is about 7'3"), so we had to sit at a table (boring!). The fish was fresh enough but too cold, and rather bland. Nothing terribly interesting about the presentation or the decor. I had to order most of my dishes in English as the waitress didn't recognize Japanese names (ok maybe it's my accent). The sake was good, but in typical Dutch fashion we were told they didn't have something when they did – a larger bottle of sake. They had no sake menu (bad sign), and only offered "hot or cold". We asked for cold, got a small bottle which disappeared in about 30 seconds. We finally got offered the larger bottle when they saw how quickly that one disappeared. Unfortunately my companion got really sick that night. On the floor, clutching her stomach, wondering if her will was up-to-date kind of sick. The house doctor was useless, "probably not food poisoning… if you have painkillers take those" - click. Since I had zero effect and we ate exactly the same thing (shared every plate that came), it's hard to imagine how it could be the food… but maybe she got that one slice of bad fish. I dunno… but I do know we won't be going back there again.

Teppanyaki Nippon Reguliersdwarsstraat 18-20 1017 BM Amsterdam

View Larger Map rating: 1 foot verdict: don't bother

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Next stop; city of water and weed

Immediately following the upcoming holiday weekend (Labor day), I pop onto a plane across the pond to one of my favorite European cities… go on then, do you recognize it, from the fan of canals and the rising smell of the leafy green rising off your screen?

That's right boys and girls, it's Amsterdam. A city I love for its mind-numbing maze of streets and canals (which I'm happy to say I know very well), a smattering of excellent restaurants where my face is still known (and occasionally still let in the front door), and the red light district (of which I have no knowledge what-so-ever. Nope, none), and their distinct rigidity in following the rules ("no sir, you can NOT have syrup and powdered sugar with your pancakes… it's one or the other, NOT BOTH!") I can't wait!



A Month in Europe

I spent basically all of September '06 in Europe. Starting in Amsterdam for IBC, and ending in Cologne for Photokina, with a bit of Berlin and Munich in the middle. Business is business, but who says you can't have a little fun along the way. The unique site is here