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Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam East

April 29, 2017
Bar Botanique, Amsterdam East

Bar Botanique was another drinks/brunch/lunch place on my list, which I had been wanting to visit for a while.  Again, unsurprisingly, it was a little out of the way from where I was staying (West).  But ‘long’ distances in Amsterdam are all relative, and we happily cycled the 20 minutes to this tropical cafe in the East of Amsterdam (just past the Artis Zoo).

We got lucky because as we arrived the sun came out, and so we were first to grab a table on their spacious terrace (they have two).  But inside is also most definitely worth a look, and as its name reflects, it certainly is a bit like an oasis in the city.  I love the vibe here, laid back, buzzing and, of course, very green.  The huge windows let in all the light, so sitting inside is as nice as outside.

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam East

We were starving and craving some good Dutch carbs, so we went for two massive Croque Madames (with a fried egg on top, as you do), and Mol went for scrambled eggs with truffle and a side of trusty avocado.  Since it was Easter and we were in a good mood, we ordered a bottle of bubbles to accompany lunch, and enjoyed a few glasses in the sun.  The staff were super friendly and helpful too, which really added to our experience.

Bar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam EastBar Botanique, Amsterdam East

In short, Bar Botanique is not only a place to head to for a drink, but also for a long lazy lunch.  As the weather gets better I know the terrace will be the place to be in East.

If you’re in the area, it’s also worth visiting de Plantage, for beer lovers the Brouwerij t’Ij in an old windmill, and for another pretty cafe check out de Tropen Grand Cafe (part of the Tropen museum).

Bar Botanique

Eerste van Swindenstraat 581
Amsterdam, Netherlands 1093 LC

 

Amsterdam, Blog, Eat, Healthy, The Netherlands

Benji’s, Amsterdam East

April 17, 2017
Benji's, Amsterdam

Instagram has its uses, one of which is spotting good brunch places.  I’ve seen photos of the very pretty Benji’s come past quite a few times, so I decided to grab my chance and go and check it out myself.

Benji’s is in East Amsterdam on the Wibautstraat, very close to one of my favourite Amsterdam hotels the Volkshotel (it’s worth also having a drink on their roof terrace).  It’s not the most central of places (i.e you will need a bike to get here) but it’s worth the ride.  There have been quite a few cool openings on this street, like the Breakfast Club and roof terrace NEST, but Benji’s is the place that was top of my list.

Benji’s is very aesthetically pleasing, with huge ceiling to floor windows, and countless plants hanging from the ceiling and plant pots in every corner.  It feels a little like you’ve walked into a trendy greenhouse.

Benji's, AmsterdamBenji's, AmsterdamBenji's, Amsterdam

The guests here are as cool as the place itself, with bloggers typing away on their MacBooks and groups of gossiping friends sipping flat whites.  The staff are exceptionally friendly and helpful. All day breakfast/brunch/lunch is their thing, and their food has a definite health focus.  They are known for their yoghurt ‘bowls’ like the ‘Love Bowl’ I had (soy yoghurt, chia, berries and coconut) but they also offer incredible salads (Mol had the burrata salad) and great toasties.

Benji's, AmsterdamBenji's, AmsterdamBenji's, Amsterdam

The vibe is super laid back here, and very easy going, which makes it the perfect place to wake up.  I loved the coffee here too, which gives you that extra kick ready for a day of exploring Amsterdam.

Benji's, Amsterdam

Benji’s

Wibautstraat 196

1091 Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Restaurant Bureau, Slotervaart

April 17, 2017
Restaurant Bureau, Amsterdam

I’m not sure how when picking a restaurant I always pick them in the most obscure of places.  Restaurant Bureau is the perfect example.  Amsterdam has a host of restaurants on my list – most of which are central – but I chose Bureau.  Which meant an Uber rather than a bike ride, and even a stretch of motorway.  And then we arrived and it felt like we had been dumped in an industrial terrain, as far from the picturesque canals as you can get.  But that’s where the negatives stop.

The restaurant is the 5th (top floor) of a fairly unattractive building (used to be the old IBM head office) called B. Amsterdam, which is an office space, co-working space and event space, focused on startups.  I think the official term is ‘an incubator’.  Anyway, it’s as trendy as these sorts of places tend to be, complete with gym (of course) and cinema.   But the real show stopper is when the lift doors open to the restaurant, a large, high-ceilinged space, divided in two by a very cool bar.  One half of it is the restaurant  and the other a lounge type space, with sofas and comfy chairs, and also some private dining rooms set slightly back.

Restaurant Bureau, AmsterdamRestaurant Bureau, AmsterdamRestaurant Bureau, Amsterdam

Before I talk about the food I should probably mention their pièce de la résistance: their roof terrace.  It’s so big they in fact call it a ‘roof park’, and rightly so, it being the largest roof terrace in Amsterdam.  Two companies, GrownDownTown and DakDokters have turned this space into a green oasis, not only pretty to walk through and enjoy, but also useful and ‘fruitful’.  Think a vegetable garden, fruit trees, chicken pens, the whole shebang.  This beautiful park is not just for those enjoying the restaurant – it is mainly for those working in the building to come and relax, meet and discuss ideas.  In the summer this will be the ultimate chill out place (there are even some hammocks), the perfect roof terrace to enjoy some drinks and some sunshine.  FYI my Instagram photos below do not do it justice, so I borrowed a photo from GrownDownTown to show how pretty it actually is.

Restaurant Bureau, AmsterdamRestaurant Bureau, AmsterdamRestaurant Bureau, Amsterdam

Back to inside, and the food.  Firstly, the staff are super friendly.  We were late but were still received with a warm handshake and welcome and were led to our table.  Our waitress was bubbly and enthusiastic.  We opted for their 3 course menu (a bargain at EUR31).  The chef used to cook at Choux, which is one of Amsterdam’s top restaurants, but also known for its more complicated food.  Here there’s none of that.  The food is excellent, beautifully presented and affordable.  My bavette steak was perfect. They have a good range of fish on the menu which I enjoyed (oysters, cod, perch), but also good options for vegetarians.

Restaurant Bureau, AmsterdamRestaurant Bureau, Amsterdam

Maybe steer clear of their organic prosecco unless you want to drink what effectively tastes like cider.  Their house red wine (EUR 21 per bottle) was very drinkable.  The coffees to finish were too.

Restaurant Bureau, Amsterdam

All in all, I left feeling somewhat elated.  Restaurant Bureau is an amazing, unique find, and for those who know Amsterdam well and want to try something different a place I highly recommend.   While yes, it’s unusual to get a taxi anywhere in Amsterdam, it’s only a 20 minute drive from the centre of the city (and you can also cycle here of course).  As the Netherlands is known for its start up culture I also think it’s worthwhile visiting B Amsterdam as a bonus.

Restaurant Bureau

B. Amsterdam – 5e etage
Johan Huizingalaan 763a (navigatie 761)
1066 VH Amsterdam

Note: They are usually only open on weekdays, but from 20 May they will also be open for dinner on Saturdays. 

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, Stay, The Netherlands

The Pulitzer Hotel, Amsterdam

March 18, 2017
The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

Amsterdam has changed hugely in the past few years when it comes to hotels.  The iconic Amstel and De L’Europe have been pushed aside with the openings of new, better, glitzier or more contemporary hotels like the Waldorf Astoria (stunning all round), the W (I love the bar here) and the Hoxton (great for brunch).

The Pulitzer Amsterdam has been around for years, but shut for a massive refurbishment.  It re-opened in August 2016 and wow, it’s a stunner.  I’d never been to it before the renovation, so I don’t have much to compare it to.  But I was impressed not only with the look and feel of the place (a little Soho House-esque in terms of design and quirky touches) but also by how despite the hotel having 225 rooms, it still feels like a boutique hotel.

The Pulitzer, Amsterdam

It looks small(ish) from the outside too, but it’s actually 25 (!) canal houses put together, and connected by wonderful gardens and terraces, which will, I’m sure, be very popular in the summer.  The lobby stands out upon entering, with lots of colour and art.  And I love their cafe Pause, where we had tea and a delicious banana cake.

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

While we only saw one room, I loved the look of it, under the beams, which is so quintessentially Dutch.  And it’s this mixture of classic Dutch design and a touch of the eclectic (and eccentric) which works so well here.   Some of the suites look amazing too.

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

My favourite part of the hotel was the Pulitzer Bar, so slick and beautiful and inviting and of course open to locals too.  I will be returning their for one of their signature cocktails.  Their restaurant Jansz also looks great, and can be accessed from the Reestraat (one of the nine ‘little streets’ / Negen Straatjes).

The Pulitzer, AmsterdamThe Pulitzer, Amsterdam

In short, all the Amsterdam old-timer hotels and even the new kids on the block need to watch out, as the Pulitzer provides a more affordable five star option, which will especially attract a younger, trendier crowd.

The Pulitzer

Prinsengracht 323,

1016 GZ Amsterdam

Rooms from EUR 275 a night

Photo credit: Pulitzer Hotel (apart from the photo of the bar)

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, The Netherlands

Tales & Spirits, Amsterdam

April 11, 2016
Tales & Spirits, Amsterdam

It’s no surprise this place is always busy.  We were nearly turned away on a Tuesday evening as they don’t allow people to stand, you must have a table.   So while the bar will be full, it will never be heaving, or too noisy.  It is the ultimate date place.  Dim lights, an excellent, inventive cocktail menu and a romantic ambience.

Tales & Spirits, Amsterdam

Upstairs they have a restaurant too, which I’ve heard good things about.

This is one of my favourite bars in Amsterdam, along with Hiding in Plain Sight (but Tales & Sprits has a better location).

Tales & Sprits

Lijnbaanssteeg 5-7
1012 TE Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Blog, Eat, Stay, The Netherlands

Hoxton, Amsterdam – the perfect brunch & coffee place

March 25, 2016
Hoxton, Amsterdam

I love the Hoxton in London (Hubbard & Bell is great for brunch), so I had high hopes when I heard that the Hoxton had opened in Amsterdam. A few years ago Amsterdam was severely lacking in good hotels.  Then the Waldorf Astoria opened, then the Hoxton, and the W Hotel, and soon even Soho House will be arriving in Amsterdam.

The Hoxton is five canal houses combined, and occupies prime location on the Herengracht.  Lotti’s is what they call their ‘neighbourhood restaurant’ (managed by Soho House), and it really has become a hub for locals; from businessmen having meetings over lunch, to bloggers and entrepreneurs typing away furiously on their Macbooks, sipping cappuccinos.  Amsterdam has needed a place like this, and the Hoxton has fitted in superbly.

Hoxton, AmsterdamHoxton, Amsterdam

Their design is what you’d expect from a Hoxton Hotel; sleek but homely, a combination of mustard yellows, muted blues and worn leather sofas.  The main eating space has a large retractable roof, which lets in the light in the winter, and the sun in the summer.  I came here with old friends, and we much enjoyed brunch here; a combination of avocado on toast, eggs and pastries.

While I didn’t see the bedrooms, they are stylish and comfortable, and not ridiculously priced (rooms from £110 per night).

Hoxton, AmsterdamHoxton, Amsterdam

The Hoxton

Herengracht 255,

1016 BJ Amsterdam

Photo credit: The Hoxton

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Stay, The Netherlands

W Lounge, Amsterdam

March 19, 2016
W-Amsterdam---W-Lounge---WET

I’m not really a W Hotel girl.  Yes, they are luxurious and super comfortable hotels.  But usually they are a bit flash, a bit loud and a bit ‘trendy’ for me.  But then I went up to the W Lounge (6th floor) for the new-ish W Hotel in Amsterdam and, while the interiors aren’t really my style, I could quite happily admit that this was a very cool place to come for a drink.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

Firstly, the views.  They are quite ridiculous, especially in a city which doesn’t have much of a cityscape.  With the W Hotel’s enviable location right in the centre of town, the views are directly of the Dam Palace and Amsterdam’s beautiful centre.

Secondly, the terrace.  Yes, it’s small and I can imagine it overflowing with people in the summer months.  We came on a sunny day in December and we had the whole place to ourselves.  There is a long pool, which you can swim in (guests only) and while it’s clearly not for children’s recreational use, I can’t think of a better wake up than a few laps in the pool with the view of the palace.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

And lastly, the vibe.  While I mentioned above that I find the W Hotels a bit too loud, that doesn’t mean that they’re not fun.  And the W Lounge is certainly a lively place to be in the late afternoon and evening.  Even if you’re not outside the huge windows mean you can still enjoy the views of the city, while fireplaces and comfy sofas mean it’s a great place to visit all year round.  The ideal place for a pre-dinner cocktail.

W Hotel, Amsterdam

W Hotel Amsterdam

Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN

Photo credit: W Hotel

Amsterdam, Argentina, Blog, Italy, Lisbon, London, Marrakech, Morocco, Portugal, Puglia, South Africa

Best of 2015: My favourites

December 29, 2015
city turtle

2015 has been a busy year in terms of travel, I’ve done numerous city weekend breaks in Europe (Amsterdam / Lisbon / Barcelona /Krakow), some relaxing, foodie holidays (Puglia / Bordeaux / Cyprus) and some serious ‘wow’ trips (Argentina / South Africa).

Here are my 2015 favourites: 

The Show Stopper: The Test Kitchen, Cape Town.

No wonder it’s been awarded South Africa’s number one restaurant for the 4th year in a row, as well as the best restaurant in Africa.  We were so lucky to have dinner here and try their incredible 10 course Tasting Menu.  We sat at the kitchen bar, which I highly recommend, as it is truly one of the best experiences watching these top chefs put together the most incredible food.

Runner up: La Colombe, the sophisticated and much-loved restaurant in Constantia, the exclusive suburb of Cape Town.  With beautiful views, delicate food and perfect service, I can completely understand why people rave about it (and why it was voted South Africa’s 2nd best restaurant).

Test Kitchen, Cape Town

Most spectacular Hotel: Eolo, Argentina.

I was completely blown away by this fantastic Relais & Chateaux, nestled in the Patagonian hills.  This is a simple, elegant and intimate boutique hotel – which is all about the views, the fantastic service, the beautiful Argentine design and the excellent food.  By far the best place I stayed in Argentina.

Runner up was Rattrays, Mala Mala in Sabi Sands.  The most beautiful colonial lodge, and the best base for wildlife viewing in South Africa. Runner up 2: Babylonstoren, South Africa, the most wonderful Cape Dutch farm and hotel in between Franschoek and Paarl.  I could not fault the design.

Eolo, Argentina

Favourite new discovery: Puglia, Italy.

Italy is, and will always be, my favourite country.  And I know it quite well.  But 2015 was the first time I traveled to ‘the heel’ of Italy, to Puglia, and I was taken aback by how much I adored it.  So different to the rest of the country, I loved its dark red earth, the hundred year old olive groves, turquoise seas, the white-washed hill top towns, the brilliant food and wine, and the incredible value for money.  Read all about my favourite places in Puglia here.

Runner up: Krakow, Poland.  Who knew Poland was quite so beautiful?  I absolutely loved this pretty and well-preserved Medieval city.  Wonderful architecture, great dining options, and super affordable.

Controcorrente, Ostuni

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Favourite new London restaurant: Shackfuyu, Soho.

Fans of the Bone Daddies restaurant group will not have missed their Soho pop up, which received such high acclaim (especially its Kinako french toast with green tea soft serve ice cream) that it has now thankfully become a permanent fixture.  My favourite dish was the aubergine with babu aruru, that alone is a reason to return.

Runner up: Taberna do Mercado.  While Nuno Mendes’ new Spittalfields restaurant has divided opinion, I loved this cosy, down to earth Portuguese restaurant, with hearty ‘grandma-style’ dishes.

Bone Daddies Shackfuyu, Soho

Favourite new London bar: The Gin Parlour at Mr Fogg’s Tavern, Soho.

I was already a fan of Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair, and so was delighted when Mr Fogg’s Tavern opened at the end of the year.  While the Tavern itself is often heaving, upstairs you’ll find a much quieter and more sophisticated Victorian Gin Parlour, with delicious (albeit expensive) cocktails.

Runner upCahoots . While it’s a nightmare to get a booking, I thought the interiors and the Underground theme was incredible (and the cocktail prices reasonable).

Mr Fogg's Tavern, Soho

Best value hotel: The Capaldi, Marrakech.

If you’re looking for a sunny but short break away from London, then Marrakech is the perfect option.  Just a 3 hour flight, but where the weather is infinitely better and where there is an astonishing array of five star hotels.  While the likes of the Amanjena, the new Mandarin Oriental and Kasbah Tamadot are luxurious but very expensive options, the Capaldi offers the best of both worlds.  It’s a beautiful hotel, set in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, half an hour drive from Marrakech’s medina, and a complete paradise.  Best of all is that rooms are from £100 per night, so totally affordable.  I loved it.

Runner up: Hotel Ormes de Pez, in the Medoc area of Bordeaux. With only a few rooms, I loved staying at this very comfortable, traditional French Chateau boutique hotel, where you are beautifully looked after by Gilles.

Capaldi, Marrakech

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Favourite new London hotel: The Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone.

The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell is a London favourite, but the new Townhouse in West London is giving it a good run for its money.  With quirky interiors, a very cosy sitting room/bar/lounge and rooms with the comfiest looking beds I’ve seen – this is British design at its best.

Runner up: the very modern Mondrian Hotel at the Sea Containers on the South Bank, where I especially loved the views and the cocktail bar.

Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone

Favourite Amsterdam new-comer: Cafe Panache, Amsterdam.

This laid-back, stylish cafe-restaurant had such a fantastic vibe, I thought I was in New York.  The food is good, but the main reason to come is for the atmosphere, and the bar filled with locals, which stays open until late.

Runner up: The W Hotel, Amsterdam.  While I’m not a massive fan of the W group, I must say I completely adored the new W’s ‘Lounge’ bar on the top floor, where the views of the Dam Palace are out of this world, and where I’d pay good money to have a swim in their pool with a view.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

Most original bar: Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires.

It doesn’t get more original than when the entrance to a bar is a fully functioning flower shop.  This bar has been repeatedly voted one of the world’s best bars, and I can totally see why.

Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires

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Favourite healthy option: Pluk, Amsterdam.

Too pretty for words, this newcomer to Amsterdam’s beloved Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) is the perfect girlie health haven.  Pick a juice, a salad and a detox shot and you’re good to go.  I love their Instagram feed too.  If you’re looking for something more substantial for brunch, then their sister property Ree 7 (on the same street), is also worth checking out.

Runner up: Flax & Kale, Barcelona. I was really wowed by this healthy ‘flexitarian’ restaurant, which combined stunning interiors with a delicious, unique menu.

Pluk, Amsterdam

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Best bottomless brunch: Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell.

2015 was the year I fell in love with Exmouth Market, a new part of London I had shockingly never been to before.  B&H Buildings is around the corner, and it’s colonial, bright interiors makes it the ideal place for brunch (try and get a table in their green house).  Best of all is that they offer bottomless Bellinis (£16) or Bloody Mary’s (£15) for weekend brunch.

Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings, Clerkenwell

Favourite local: Hally’s and Little H, Parsons Green.

Fulham gets criticised for being slightly on the dull side when it comes to restaurants and bars, but one thing it can get right is brunch.  Hally’s remains one of my favourite Fulham locals, and with the arrival of its smaller and healthier sister property Little H (with a Cali twist), I couldn’t be happier.

Runner up: St Clements, toward Eelbrook Common, is also a great option if Hally’s is fully booked.  Manuka Kitchen also remains a firm favourite.

Hally's Parsons Green

Favourite City Break: Lisbon, Portugal.

It was my second time visiting the Portuguese capital this year, and I liked it even more than the first time I went.  Lisbon combines excellent weather with beautiful architecture, an innovative foodie scene and incredible value for money.   Take an extra day off work and give yourself a day on the beach to add some proper R&R to this city break, and you’ll feel like you’ve been on a proper holiday.  Read all about my Lisbon highlights here.

Runner up: Barcelona.  This Spanish city never fails to disappoint. With wonderful tapas bars, fantastic rooftop bars and the beach (with its brilliant beach bars), I could return again and again.

Lisbon

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Amsterdam, Blog, Eat, The Netherlands

Ted’s Place, Amsterdam

October 21, 2015
Ted's Amsterdam
Amsterdam West has slowly transformed itself into a haven of fantastic coffee bars and brunch places.  While I am usually loyal to places like Staring at Jacob when I’m in this neck of the wood, I’d heard good things about Ted’s, known for its brunches and high teas and so decided to give it a go.
Ted’s is located on a very pretty residential tree-lined street, where sitting outside on their terrace in the autumn sun is a real treat.  The interiors are very pretty, white and light and the perfect place for a girlie brunch or high tea.  It is clearly a neighbourhood cafe, pleasantly busy on a Saturday morning.
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Ted's Amsterdam
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As we may have consumed a little too much the night before, our main aim was to re-hydrate before ambling along Amsterdam’s famous canals and doing some window shopping in the Nine Streets.  At one point our table was filled with three glasses per person: a coffee, a juice and a glass of their excellent (and complimentary) flavoured (lemon/mint) water.  The perfect hangover cure.
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Ted's Amsterdam
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On the food side, I tucked into a French toast and bacon combo which totally sorted me out.  Two of the girls enjoyed sharing a pastrami sandwich and salmon omelette.  Amber was sadly a bit disgruntled as her eggs and solders didn’t quite make the cut, and the toast she asked for never appeared.
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Ted's Amsterdam
Ted's Amsterdam
Ted's Amsterdam
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That aside, if you’re in the area this is a very affordable and cosy neighbourhood hang out, and a lovely place to start the weekend.
Ted's Amsterdam
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Ted’s
Bosboom Toussaintstraat 60,
1054 AV Amsterdam
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Photo credit: Ted’s own
Instagram: my own
Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, Eat, The Netherlands

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

October 19, 2015
Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

I always thought the Dutch liked to have dinner early; that eating at 10 or 11pm like the Spanish was just not a done thing.  Until we arrived at – heaving – Cafe Panache, the new restaurant & bar in Amsterdam West that everyone seems to be talking about and loving.  We were late, having just been to the fantastic UNSEEN Photography Fair, but I thought that at 10pm we wouldn’t have a problem getting a table.  Wrong.  We were told to wait at the bar while we waited for a table to clear.  I was astounded.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

Cafe Panache has the feel of a buzzing warehouse restaurant in New York’s Meatpacking district.  The energy of the place, which was still in full flow when we left past midnight, is unlike any restaurant I’ve been to in Amsterdam.  This is where all the locals hang out – as the Dutch would say, it’s the new ‘hotspot’ in town.  And it’s a complete mix of people; hipster/posh/grungy/yummy mummy/student.  I loved it.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

Their menu tends to seem quite fish-heavy, but what I really recommend if you’re looking for value for money is their three course set menu.  For 30 Euros you get a starter (we had the gravlax), a main course (we had beef) and pudding (baked cheese cake).  The main course was the best of the lot, the beef cooked perfectly, with celeriac mash and chicory.  The gravlax was slightly on the dry side, and while the girls weren’t a massive fan of the cheesecake, I loved it.  We also ordered oysters on the side (3 euros a pop), as it seemed a shame not to try more of their seafood selection.

Cafe Panache, Amsterdam

If you don’t want a full on meal, then you can just enjoy the large bar area and order bar snacks (we saw some phenomenal sharing platters come by).  It seems a bit more casual there, and open until 1am.  While the location is a bit out of the way (in the less familiar part of the Ten Kate markt), you’re in the centre in less than 10 minutes (by bike) and there are a number of other pubs and bars you can head to in West if you prefer.

Really recommend it.

Cafe Panache

Ten Katestraat 117,

1053 CC Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Blog, Drink, The Netherlands

Hiding in Plain Sight, Amsterdam

October 18, 2015
Hiding in Plain Sight, Amsterdam
I was always of the impression that Amsterdam lacked cocktail bars.  With three English girls over for the weekend, I wanted to start the night with a quiet cocktail, before heading to the more obvious bars (Cafe Cox, Weber Lux) where I always seem to end up when out late in Amsterdam.
Having been to Door 74 (a New York style speakeasy) I was in search of something similar.  A friend recommended the secret speakeasy at the Butcher, but it proved so difficult to get a ‘password’ and I didn’t want to risk not getting in, that I had two other options in mind: Hiding in Plain Sight (HPS) or Tales and Spirits.  In the end we opted for HPS, mainly because I liked the name so much.
Hiding in plain sight, Amsterdam
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It’s a bit of a bike ride if you’re staying in West, but if you’re close to the station (or staying on the grand canals) it’s very easy to get to.  It is not perhaps in the most bustling of areas, but it is very local. And local is good in a city which does get a bad rep for its touristy areas.  We arrived around midnight and the bar, which looks very unassuming from the outside, was close to empty.  I think it’s busier early in the evening, if you’re looking for more of a buzz, but it was perfect for us as we could chat and enjoy the (truly excellent) cocktails in peace.  It’s also open until 3am on the weekends, so ideal if you don’t feel like clubbing but want to stay out drinking.
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Hiding in plain sight, Amsterdam
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The bar is dark and ambient, with a small upstairs area with more seating (big sunken sofas, Chesterfield armchairs).  The bar men are skilled and concoct fabulous drinks.  We asked for ours to be fresh rather than sweet, and a bit spicy – and were then served a range of unique and original drinks.
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Hiding in Plain Sight, Amsterdam
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One word of warning, they are expensive (15 euros a cocktail); this is not your typical Dutch bar where you pay 3 euros for a beer.  That aside, this is a sophisticated, intimate place, where a pre or post dinner drink will go down very well.
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They also offer brunch.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Rapenburg 18,
1011 TX Amsterdam
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Photo credit: Hiding in Plain Sight, Instagram shot mine.
Amsterdam, Blog, Eat, Healthy

Pluk, Amsterdam – for the perfect healthy brunch

September 26, 2015
Pluk, Amsterdam

Pluk is one of those places which draws you in off the street.  A place so photogenic it will send the most expert of Instagrammers into a tizzy.  It looks good from every angle, with huge windows allowing lots of light in, bright white walls, vases spilling with beautiful flowers, and huge crates and baskets laden with fruit and vegetables.  It’s feminine and pretty, and makes you want to recreate the whole place at home.  It is exactly my kind of place, and possibly – dare I say it – one of my favourite cafes in Amsterdam.

Pluk, Amsterdam

So what is it?  It’s the place to come for a healthy brunch, but it’s also ideal for a take away sandwich, salad, coffee or juice (they have so many options).  Having been going through a health craze for close to two years, I’ve visited as many healthy cafes and restaurants in London as possible, and have always thought Amsterdam was fairly disappointing on that front.  But slowly but surely the health craze has reached Amsterdam, which is now reflected in the cafes, juice bars and restaurants which have opened in the past few year or two.  I love places like Lavinia’s, Dr Blend, Vinnie’s Deli and now Pluk.

Pluk, AmsterdamPluk, Amsterdam

Pluk seems to have really nailed it though.  With seating upstairs on the mezzanine level overlooking the cafe, you can easily spend your whole morning here, watching people come in and out.  Have an energy booster shot to start, and work your way though salmon salads, cold-pressed juices and delicious coffees.

Pluk, AmsterdamPluk, Amsterdam

It also sells pottery and trinkets, reminding me a little of Anthropologie.  And apart from that, it is in the heart of the ‘Nine Streets’, Amsterdam’s cutest little streets crossing the main ‘royal’ canals in the centre of town.  These streets are perfect for a weekend stroll, with so many great shops and other cafes and bars.  Pluk’s sister property Ree7, is a few doors down and looks just as inviting, with perhaps a slightly trendier, more masculine feel to it.  It’s another one of Amsterdam’s most popular brunch hangouts though, and is most definitely next on my list.

Pluk, Amsterdam

Pluk Amsterdam

Reestraat 19

1016 DM Amsterdam

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