Serendipity. For the travelling foodie there are few more delightful experiences than finding a great new place to eat by chance. I’d grazed quite a lot on the food tour today, although not actually eaten a meal and had mainly tasted rather than eaten what was put before me. But how hungry was I? What kind of supper did I fancy? I scoured my little Lonely Planet guide but couldn’t see anywhere I fancied nearby. Thus I set off deciding to just head up Prinsengracht towards Jordaan and look out for somewhere that took my fancy. If I didn’t see anywhere, then once I got as far as Westerkerk there’d be places I knew.
When on the lookout for somewhere to eat, a place that’s full is going to be a better bet than an empty one. Though of course they might not have a free table! Any stickers in the window showing they’re recommended by TripAdvisor, Hardens, Michelin or whatever means they’re worth a look too. On a dark night on an Amsterdam canal seeing anything much can be a challenge. One certainly can’t resort to a guide book as you won’t be able to read it – unless, unlike me, you’ve worked out how to use the torch on your iPhone.
Even though it was a very dark stretch of the Prinsengracht, something about Cafe Het Molenpad stopped me in my tracks. By this time I was halfway to Westerkerk. Yes there were a few stickers on the window but what attracted me was the warm inviting look inside. I read the menu displayed at the front. A set menu of 3 courses for €27.50. And it all looked great. I went inside and received a friendly welcome and was given a prime table by the window overlooking the pretty canal outside. It was perfect!
The menu was so inviting I found it hard to choose but finally settled on a starter of Chicory, Radicchio, Mackerel mousse and Pomegranate. While I waited for it to arrive, the waiter brought me a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and as I sipped it, I marvelled at the wonderful view from my window.
The starter was brilliant. I loved the bitter freshness of the salad leaves and the mackerel had a strong enough flavour to take it; all this was topped with sweet pomegranate seeds. For my main I’d chosen mussels. I love eating mussels here, or in Belgium or France, where they come with frites.
The frites came with mayonnaise – in UK you nearly always have to ask for it. There were two sauces to accompany the mussels – a curried one and tomato – but I like my mussels simple. If they are good – and these were wonderful: tender and sweet – they don’t need anything with them. There was a tempting choice for dessert and I went with Poached pears with Gorgonzola, walnuts, thyme and honey.
Of course I didn’t NEED a dessert, but it was a 3-course menu and how could I resist? And I had – according to the pedometer on my iPhone – walked 14km today! And I was so happy sitting there with the lovely food, warm and buzzing atmosphere, friendly service and a great view, that I wanted to stay as long as possible. Thus I odered a coffee and an oude genever – old gin – that I love to end the day with when in Amsterdam.
What a great way to end a lovely day. And Cafe Het Molenpad is now definitely on my list of favourite haunts in Amsterdam!