Amsterdam offers a feast of culinary cuisines. Even so, I would have none other than traditional Dutch food on my first night in The Netherlands. For that, I went to Hap-HMM. This is not the place to go for fine-dining or culinary fireworks. Instead, it is a simple, no-frills locals' hangout. The restaurant is modest and quaint with small chandeliers and wood panelling. The service is fast and friendly. Locals come in and sit wherever a chair is available--even if that means sitting at your table. Conversations quickly rise between friends and strangers. Hap-Hmm is a true local experience.
Not knowing a lick of Dutch, I asked the server for the house's specialty. I received stewed beef that flaked apart with the touch of a fork, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots. It brought back a lot of fond memories of eating at my grandmother's house. For dessert, I had one of the best panna cotta with caramel sauce ever! To top it all off, one appetizer, two entrees, two desserts, a bottle of sparkling water and a carafe of house wine was had for under €40. Who does that anymore?
Of course, I can't go anywhere without having a good Italian meal. In Amsterdam, that required a trip to Koevoet. Run by two italians (thankfully, my Italian is far better than my Dutch!), a dinner will prove to be not only delicious, but entertaining. In true Italian fashion, a glass of prosecco was offered before a menu. By the time the meal rolled around, we had enjoyed a fabulous asparagus gratin, a killer spaghetti carbonara and scaloppini al fungi porcini.
The evening ended with lively conversations with the local Dutch diners beside us, hysterical imitations of Al Pacino (because our server looked like him), and many glasses of grappa and limoncello. Yes, another memorable evening!
Rarely do I seek out pizza at home or in travel. However, when I heard about a pizza place in Amsterdam that is so popular you have to have a reservation to get in, I had to try it. Sure enough, Yam Yam was packed with diners of all ages. Next to us were three families enjoying a meal together. On the other side were two well-dressed elderly couples getting together for dinner. Behind us was a young, fashionable couple on a date. The food that came out all looked and smelled delicious! My salad was incredibly fresh and tasty, as was the margherita pizza. Yam Yam was yum-yum!
Lastly, everyone knows that the Dutch are famous for their french fries. And, everyone who knows me, knows I will eat french fries any chance I get! Stopping for a mid-morning break, I discovered the BEST french fries in all of Amsterdam at Cafe Staalmeesters. The big, fat, hot, and well-seasoned fries (served with the creamiest home-made mayonaise) are to die for! So much so, hubs and I split two orders! The chef must have thought we were crazy since it was only 10:30 in the morning!!