Amsterdam: Cafe De Reiger

It was while we were in what’s become our favourite nighttime cafe for a Genever before bedtime, Cafe Chris, late on Saturday, that we heard about Cafe De Reiger. It turns out that Cafe Chris, which we found by chance on the first night is the oldest brown cafe in Amsterdam, dating from 1624. Well we thought it had a great atmosphere. Talking good restaurants in the city with the guy behind the bar and another customer on Saturday night, they said we should go to De Reiger and it was near our hotel, in Nieuwe Leliestraat. It turned out you couldn’t book so we just turned up prepared to wait at the bar if necessary.

It looks like a very ordinary and typical bar-cafe from the outside but inside there’s a touch of sophistication and it turned out the food was sophisticated and absolutely brilliant. It was already quite busy but we were able to go straight to a table for two by a window – maybe it’s quieter on Sunday as we’d been warned we may have to queue. The menus were brought and some crostini with homemade tapenade. You could tell immediately it was homemade – it just had that ‘recently made by us’ quality to it.

The waiter was friendly and helpful in a way the Dutch excel at. It’s not over the top, brooking that balance between professional efficiency and friendliness in a perfect way so you feel comfortable but well looked after. It reflects that very laid back nature of the Dutch. We were debating between two wines so our waiter brought two glasses, two bottles and let us taste each. We ended up going for the Cabernet Sauvignon, which he’d suggested we might prefer. He explained the menu too and and told us what the specials of the day were. We decided on different starters but the same main course. Nicola chose a ‘cornetto’ of tuna tartare, avocado and a special dressing. It looked stunning. The cornetto was made from filo pastry the waiter told us. It tasted fantastic. It was really really good (luckily Nicola gave me a taste!).

I chose a salad of asparagus, artichokes and a cauliflower curd. There were wafer thin slices of old Dutch cheese too. It looked equally impressive and tasted just as wonderful.

Our main was rack of lamb with roasted sweet pepper, fresh peas and polenta – which was made into rissoles.

The lamb was perfectly medium to rare as we’d asked for. The whole dish came together into a gorgeous whole and was simply brilliant. This was such a fine dining experience we were definitely going to try their desserts! Nicola has Tarte Tatin with ice cream – special of the day.

It was very good. My orange tiramisu was gorgeous. I’m not always sure about messing around with a classic like tiramisu but this worked splendidly.

I had an espresso to finish and the waiter brought liqueurs for us both on the house. It had been a wonderful meal and such a great place to spend our last evening – very typical Amsterdam cafe-restaurant with a great atmosphere and fabulous food.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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