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zondag 28 februari 2016

TOP 15 of 2015 Amsterdam + Gent

1. Humus Botanical Gastronomy (Brussels)

Chef Nicolas De Cloedt (ex In de Wulf) is a smart cookie and a smart cook.
Nicolas invites 20 people to his beautiful home where he cooks a set 7 or 8 course diner. His partner Caroline, who's a dietitian, hosts the party and serves amazing organic wines. Strictly vegetarian, but don't worry meat lovers: you won't even think about meat once you're eating the delicious and creative dishes Nicholas produces.

Nicolas serves top vegetarian gastronomy in his Brussels home. He is very much into local produce and often uses herbs, plants and items he finds in his garden or around the Koekelberg Basilisk. Not only is the food amazing, and surprising, dining with 20 other people on one long table makes for interesting conversation  as well. All in all a sensational experience.

Extremely highly recommended.


2. BAK (Amsterdam)

Restaurant BAK is truly an experience. It's well hidden under the exposed beams roof in the Veem building lining the Oude Houthaven (Van Diemenstraat). They began as a pop up restaurant, but the pop remains up. They're here to stay. Hopefully for a very long time. You really feel like you're in a secret gastronomic hide out while dining in the BAK attic overlooking the Houthaven. 

The chef creates a daily menu. Very organic, a lot of vegetables. It's all seasonal, they grow their own vegetables in crates on the pier in the Houthaven. You can choose the number of courses you want to have. Order as many as possible, you'll love them all. Price/Quality you can't go wrong. I can recommend the wine pairing as well. You'll be dazzled. 


3. De Vitrine (Gent)

A restaurant owned by Kobe Desramault (in de wulf). It's small, cozy, good staff half open kitchen and a great place to be. Lots of clever local dishes, inspired by west flemish grandma's. The food is absolutely brilliant. 

There's a set menu but do yourself a favour and get the extra course in your meal. You won't be dissapointed. We always went with a matching wine formula, very handy with the surprise menu and peculiar flavours you'll experience.

Well priced as well. The place to go when visiting Gent.


4. Daalder (Amsterdam)

An old fashioned "brown" bar in Amsterdam aiming for a Michelin star. After dining here you'll know it's not such a crazy thought. Absolutely comfy setting, laid back atmosphere, friendly staff. You'll feel right at home.

Creative modern food, think organic local produced veggies and meat combined with the best the sea has to offer in a sustainable way.  

5. Aan de Amstel (Amsterdam)

For years I biked past Aan de Amstel at Weesperzijde on my way to work from Zuid to Oost. I always made a mental note "must go dine here soon". Then one day, my girlfriend decided we should go. It was an excellent idea. Since it closed 1 september 2015.

Apparently a new cool restaurant opened it's doors... will check it out of course.

6. Cochon de Luxe (Gent)

Moving to Gent was quite a disruption. The amount of good and affordable dining options where cool enough people are hanging out got slashed overnight. But lucky for us we live on De Vitrine + Cochon de Luxe side of town. We actually spotted Cochon de Luxe whilst smoking cigarettes outside of De Vitrine. We obviously had to try it out.

More expensive than De Vitrine, but not as expensive as Volta, Cochon de Luxe serves Belgian dishes in a glamourous way. Think of gold pighead appetizers, amazing Gent Ginderella Gin Tonics, unusual combinations and a lot of colour.

It's an amazing journey filled with surprises and gastronomic delight. Highly recommended!


7. Volta (Gent)

Top gastronomy in an old power plant. An amazing setting and spectacular interior design. Every bite is a sensation. It doesn't get any better than this.

Highlight of the evening was the sashimi/sushi creation that was served. Absolutely to die for. The wine pairing was pretty awesome too. You will definitely taste flavours you never tasted before. 

Staff is professional and fun. Don't come here when you're on a budget. It's not cheap, but you won't feel cheated. Highly recommended!


8. Citroen

Now if you're in for a surprise then you need to dine at Citroen. The location is perfect, it's on the second floor of the old Citroen garage and car dealership at Stadionplein in Oud Zuid. Don't forget to check out the garden/green house where the delicious veggies are grown. 
The setting is minimal, unused pink tables are removed, pink lighting and an open kitchen. Good staff and an amazing chef (ex Hotel Goudfazant) who knows what he's doing. Sustainable, unique, clever, delicous.

On top of all my restaurant lists! Highly highly recommended.


9. J.E.F

J.E.F. was on my 'to go' list for quite some time. Soon after moving back to Gent we decided to give it a try. Trying being the key word here. The place looks good, the vibe is good. The food is good, and maybe that's the thing that is off. The food is good, but not mind blowing. There's no spectacular journey. It's good food, that is it. It's not cheap. That's another thing. Highlight of our meal: the bone marrow.

Should you go? yes.
Should you go twice? nah.

A little bit recommended.


10. Revue (Gent)

This is probably one of the places I am most grateful for for just being in Gent. Why? It looks good. There's good food. Service is cosmopolitan. They're open 7/7. They don't close down between Xmas and new years. Good stuff in my book. You can share, you can eat tapas, there are Belgian classic dishes on the menu brought to you in a modern way. Decent plates, not too fussy. Is there a downside? Maybe, it might attract the wrong crowd. Should you care? No way josé!

Must tries: Pork belly lollypops and the meatballs. If you wish to feel like anywhere in the world: Revue.


11. Graceland Bar-B-Q

Whenever I'm craving good meat, Graceland pops into my head. So yes, I often go there. The explenation is not so hard. There's a Texan, a Texan barbecue installation and IPA's. The meat has been barbecued and smoked for hours and hours. You need to order the baby back ribs and pulled pork AND the refried black beans. Look around. I might be sitting at the table next to you.

Oh yes, it's very reasonably priced. You can't go wrong! Southern comfort on a plate.
A visit is in fact mandatory! (unless you're booking a flight to San Antonio TX as we speak)


12. Chix (Gent)

So yes Gent also hopped on the rotisserie train, new trends arrive in Belgium with a long lag time, but at least it's good Gent is the place to actually pick up this trend. Eat Love Tastings (with the amazing Nicholas Decloedt in charge of the kitchen) moved way for Belgium's first rotisserie restaurant and (also thanks to Nicholas) it's a good thing it did. The atmosphere is hip, casual, fun. The wines are absolutely fabulous. You need to get the Hungarian wine. I know, Hungarians are now making awesome wine... progress right. 

And the chicken. Succulent, tasty, plenty. Good side dishes, and the carrots for a starter are highly recommended.
Highly recommended.


13. Bar Breitner

Traditional fuss free French food in Amsterdam.
Good venue. Interesting location.
Tourist free.
Have the confit de canard, the way it should be done.

Highly recommended.


14. Morgan & Mees

My prefered hotel in Amsterdam at the moment. But they serve good food as well! Hip and suave interior, sexy hip succesful people, cosmopolitan vibe, good service, good food? Yes it's all there. Is the food mind blowing. Is it a good place to go and have dinner? Totally. It's a great night out! 

You can sip excellent cocktails with other cool people at the adjacent cocktail bar.



15. Michel-Inn

It was raining, played the bass all night, we were hungry, we passed Michel-Inn, pizzas came to mind, we parked our bikes. The welcome was memorable. Very enjoyable. Really great service. Rediscovered stout. And since we were being adventurous we decided to go for the tapas. We were/are so grateful we did. The food was totally amazing. On a surprise scale from 1 to 10 -> 10!

Michel-Inn isn't no where near fancy, hip, cool, look-how-sustainable-we-are...it's artisanal and there's love on your plate. It's a local spot. A hidden gem.


Worth your while in Amsterdam and elsewhere:

16. Rauw (Amersfoort)
17. A little of what you fancy (London)
18. Viet View (De Foodhallen Amsterdam)
19. Q Grill (London)
20. Balls & Glory
21. De Hoftuin
22. Andrew Edmunds (London)
23. Cafe Panache
24. De Superette (Gent

- Clochard de luxe (Gent)
- Rokkebolle (Gent)
- De Raadkamer (Gent)

Smokin' Barrels
Americano Bar & Kitchen
Carter Bar & Kitchen
George Bistro
De Plantage
O Mai
Jacques Jour
Paper Planes
Van 't Spit
Mossel & Gin
Buurman & Buurman
Van de buurt
Hotel not hotel
Waldorf Astoria
Meat West
Halte 3
Eddy Spaghetti
Vrijmoed (Gent)
Publiek (Gent)
Oak (Gent)
Naturell (Gent)
Bodo (Gent)
Lof (Gent)
Het Gouden Hoofd (Gent)
Domestica (Gent)
Brasserie Ha (Gent)
Jour de fete (Gent)

donderdag 1 januari 2015

TOP 14 of 2014 in 020 (Amsterdam)

HAPPY 2015!

Let's start the year by compiling a list of 14 things in Amsterdam that were memorable.

1. BAK
Wonderful organic creative cuisine. In my top 3 of favorite Amsterdam restaurants.

2. Graceland Bar-B-Q
Authentic southern comfort food. A lot of meat, slow cooked in a massive made in USA BBQ by a very competent NYC chef.

3. De Foyer
Another restaurant from my Amsterdam top 3 list. Great location, great concept, amazing food, great service, a  lot of creativity.

4. Minimarkt
The first really cool store in my street. Creative kid stuff, play corner with a lot of toys, good coffee and cakes.

5. Headfirst Coffee Roasters
The best filter coffee in town.The Ethiopian coffee is to die for. Barista's who know what they're doing.

6. Le Coq
The white restaurant Open turned into the all black pop-up restaurant Le Coq. Delicious bites, great shared dining place.

7. Hotel de Goudfazant
A surreal venue, massive, buzzing, great views, fantastic food.

8. De Foodhallen
The best concept to immerse in Amsterdam. A food market with a wide variety of high quality food stands. A great place. Check it out before it makes the tourist guides.

 9. Marathonweg
The first cool restaurant in Oud Zuid with a great price/quality ratio. Great meat. Some kind of colonial/expat ambiance inside.

10. Citea
A wonderful cozy place serving a lot of delicious teas. A wonderful place to chill out.

11. Six & Sons
A very fun men's store, great coffee, a lot of beards. It can be that simple to make this list.

12. Tripel
Great service, improved music selection, a lot of nice Belgian beers.You'll often find me there.

13. Gekaapt
So Jan&Eef popped out, Gekaapt popped up. A very nice store, great gift ideas, realistic prices.

14. Walter Woodbury Bar
The best looking bar in Amsterdam, plain and simple. It's a cool  place.

vrijdag 19 december 2014


Here are 3 things I love about my favorite city Amsterdam:

1. Sightseeing on your own boat (sloep)

The nicest way to see this gorgeous city is from the water. But don't get on one of the heavily polluting sight seeing boats that race tourists through the canals. Rent your own little boat, bring some wine, bionades, lunch, snacks, portable bbq, speakers on board and cruise the many canals at your own pace. On warm sunny days, it seems that most of Amsterdam's social life happens on the water.

25% of Amsterdam's surface is water, so you have a lot to explore, stick to the historic canal belt, Amstel river, western and eastern islands, the IJ river and venture east past the Scheepvaartmuseum towards Brouwerij 't IJ and the windmill De Gooijer, drinking Brouwerij 't IJ beer on the jetties adjacent to Brouwerij 't IJ is THE thing to do on a sunny day.

2. Getting lost in Amsterdam by bike

The best way to get around town is by bike. However, if you're not comfortable on a bike, don't get on a bike. A very fun thing to do is to join rush hour traffic on a sunny week day. Since I manage 3 construction sites in the city (one in east, one in west, one in south) I often join rush hour traffic on my bike, it's the fastest way to reach any destination in the city. And the cheapest.

Amsterdam is very compact. The A10 beltway circumvents Amsterdam's area of interest. East-West is a 9km trip. North to South is a 10km trip. What I love to do is to venture out, to an unknown area and just bike random streets. What happens is that I always make new discoveries on such expeditions, shops, bars, restaurans, play grounds, parks, markets, galleries... Amsterdam has a lot of hidden gems, and the real Amsterdam experience is to be found outside the historic canal belt. Every little neighborhood in Amsterdam has it's own cool bars, shops, markets,....

3. The food scene

Holland is not famous for it's food. However, there's a lot of good food in Amsterdam, and a thriving food scene.

Sure you can dine at world class Michelin star restaurants. But in my humble opinion, they aren't better or more special than the ones you found in Belgium or France. Price/quality wise you're better off abroad if Michelin star restaurants is what you're after. BUT: exception to this is Yamazato, the Japanese 2 star restaurant in the Okura Hotel. The only Japanese restaurant with 2 stars outside of Japan. Highly recommended.

What is much more exciting are the various food concepts that emerge all over town. Often organic, biological infused ideas, often set in very cool locations, and quite often emerging as a pop-up concept. Think of Wilde Zwijnen, the boys of Repere and Foyer, BAK, Baut, Restaurant As, Rijsel, Speijkervet, Cafe Modern, Goudfazant.... More conceptual ideas emerged as well, Fier with Limburg food, Bar Brouw specialized in pulled pork, Rotisserie focusses on chicken, Julius is all about the BBQ. Shared dining was introduces and now counts 5&33, Bocinq, Mercat, Boca's. In addition to all that there's now a huge selections of bars and brasseries serving excellent food: Carters, Bar Moustache, American Bar & Kitchen, Hugo's Bar & Kitchen, Franklin Bar & Kitchen...

There's now also a serious breakfast and brunch scene, with G's as the pioneers, and Little Collins, Drover's Dog, Staring at Jacob seeing their stars rise. Flanked by hundreds of exciting coffee spots scattered all over town: Bedford Stuyvesant and Bru in East, Mem's in South, Quartier Putain in the red light district, White label coffee and Berry in West and Headfirst Coffee Roasters in the Jordaan.

All in all, no matter how you find your way across Amsterdam canals and streets, there's always exciting places to discover where you can find good food, good drinks, good people, and crazy moments!

Write your own article and win great prizes: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/content/tale-of-3-cities.shtml

maandag 15 december 2014

Fall Update 2014 - Amsterdam Restaurants & Bars

1. Restaurant As

Zuidas|Beatrixpark - Oud Zuid - Amsterdam

Hidden in the shadows of the Zuidas high rise and the Beatrix Park trees, Restaurant As is a 50ies church converted into a restaurant, with a kitchen outside. It's a great place to dine outside in summer. All organic, good ingredients, local produce... but Restaurant As lacks consistency. 

They're on the edge of the price/quality equation. Meals are served on big plates placed in the center of the table, when a lot of people in your party order the same meal, portions may turn out on the small side. That's a shame, because usually, the food is delicious and very well prepared.

Recommended, keep your fingers crossed and try it out yourself.


2. BAK

Westelijke Eilanden - Houthaven Amsterdam

Restaurant BAK is truly an experience. It's well hidden under the exposed beams roof in the Veem building lining the Oude Houthaven (Van Diemenstraat). They began as a pop up restaurant, but the pop remains up. They're here to stay. Hopefully for a very long time. You really feel like you're in a secret gastronomic hide out while dining in the BAK attic overlooking the Houthaven. 

The chef creates a daily menu. Very organic, a lot of vegetables. It's all seasonal, they grow their own vegetables in crates on the pier in the Houthaven. You can choose the number of courses you want to have. Order as many as possible, you'll love them all. Price/Quality you can't go wrong. I can recommend the wine pairing as well. You'll be dazzled. 

One of my favorite restaurants in Amsterdam.

Think Wilde Zwijnen but a bit funkier.
Highly highly recommended!


3. De Foyer

Keizersgracht | 9 Straatjes Amsterdam

From the same crew that amazed the Amsterdam food scene Répéré. The concept remains the same, another pop up restaurant, in the Felix Meritus building, together with FOAM. This time the building and interior is even more gorgeous. All biological wines, old fashioned food served in a modern way. It's all about the taste. Definitely try the cheesecake for desert, it's to die for!

You must try this cake!

Service is impeccable, the atmosphere is relaxed but has something elegant and glamorous. Prices are low, quality very very high!

Highly recommended.

4. De Goudfazant

Noord | Via Oosterpont

Nowadays I find myself crossing the IJ by pondje quite often. Noord is on fire. This is the first venture of the guys who run Cafe Modern. This old garage is an impressive venue. Check out the crazy bottle chandelier! Don't be shy, the place is huge, there's a lot of staff, and a lot of waiters racing past you with dishes when you head from the cloak racks to the bar, find a waiter and soon you'll be seated among hundreds of other patrons, hipsters, advertising people, business men (there's easy car parking). 

Eating here is a bargain. 30+ euros for a 3 course meal, you can't go wrong here. They have a very interesting wine list, and the staff is very able to guide you through it, in order to find that right bottle. The food leans towards traditional French, prepared to perfection. Great poussin chicken, hanger steak. 


5. Anna

Red Light District | Warmoesstraat | Touristic Center

I will be honest with you. I shun Warmoesstraat and the Red Light District. Too many English stag parties, too many 10 € Argentinian steak houses, too many tourist traps. But it's true, the Red Light District contains a few gems, definitely for coffee and shopping (Koko Coffee & Design, Quartier Putain, ...) but there's a very fine restaurant hidden in Warmoesstraat: Anna.

It looks completely the opposite of the surrounding hell holes and oozes class, elegance and tranquility. The latter is not easy to accomplish in this area. The back faces the square behind the Oude Kerk. I must admit, I had one of the best meals all year in this restaurant. The combination of the interior, the staff, the food, the wine. Speaking of wine: if they have the Sterhuis, go for it.

You will be served little pieces of art. They taste as good as they look. Great combinations, inventive creations, generous portions, local produce, cooked to perfection. Traditional dishes, produced by Lindenhoff in Baambrugge, but the chef doesn't shun eastern influences. That is exciting. Some more trivia: they serve excellent bread.

Highly recommended.

6. Remise 47

Oud West - Foodhallen

The Bellamy square area has been the hottest place to be in Amsterdam during the fall. The old "tram remise" (tram work shop) has been converted to a posh hotel, fine restaurants, upscale real estate and a food market. First to open its doors was Remise 47 in Hotel De Hallen. Followed by Halte 3, Meat West and the foodhallen. 

The setting is wonderful, with a very nice outdoors area. The food was promising but not the end of the world. The scallops were well prepared, and the meat was alright but not memorable. Since we tried it out after they just switched concepts and were short in staff we are confident they will be up to par in no time.


7. Ree 7

9 Straatjes - Western Canal Belt

The 9 straatjes are fun to shop. There are some nice bars, and some good restaurants. One of the best places in this area to have lunch is Ree7. It's small but cozy. This gastro bar definitely has a hipster flair to it, but the crowd is very varied. The main thing is: they serve healthy looking and very taste food. Very nice and creative salads, not very common to find those kinds of salads on Amsterdam menus. 


8. De Foodhallen

The hippest place in town this fall without a doubt. Go there before it looses it's flair and is in every tourist guide possible. (And thus swarmed by Amsterdam tourists and stag parties on beerbikes).

Try the Vietnamese stand and the sausages. There's also a nice wine bar. At the east side there's a non-food market, with make up, craft beers and artsy stuff hipsters love.

Highly recommended.


On the list to check out:

Le Coq
Smokin' Barrels
Americano Bar & Kitchen
Carter Bar & Kitchen
George Bistro
De Plantage
Aan de Amstel
O Mai
Graceland Bar-B-Q

Jacques Jour
Paper Planes
Van 't Spit
Mossel & Gin
Buurman & Buurman
Van de buurt
Hotel not hotel
Waldorf Astoria
Meat West
Halte 3
Eddy Spaghetti