I’m back in Amsterdam for the third January running. Yes in January the weather is uncertain but when you’re heading to a favourite city then really anytime is good. For me it’s all about getting away for a break to somewhere familiar and where I can relax immediately. And there is no place like Amsterdam for being chilled out.
Being ‘chilled out’ has taken on a whole new meaning this January. This year it’s much colder than previous years but the bonus has been the most beautiful sunny day since I arrived late morning.
I spent the early part of the day revisiting old favourite haunts for snacks but when I saw a very old favourite – dating back more than 20 years ago to when I spent a lot of time here – was almost opposite my hotel, then I knew that was where I wanted to go for dinner.
Lucius is a restaurant on Spuistraat that’s been serving great seafood for 41 years. I went in mid afternoon when it was closed to book a table and it looked just the same as I remembered. It combines a lovely simplicity with its tiled walls that are traditional in fish restaurants with a welcoming coziness. Well it was certainly cozy when I went back in the evening.
The welcome was so friendly. I was shown a table and asked if it was OK. I said yes, but I’d like to sit the other way round so my back wasn’t to the door as it was so cold outside. The waitress immediately offered to take me to another – warmer – table further back. I ordered a prosecco to drink while I chose my food. Just across from me sat a friendly Japanese couple. The woman was wearing a beautiful kimono. When I asked if I could take a photo of their wonderful looking platter of fruits de mer, she kindly said I should share some!
I said thank you, but I’d already ordered some food. They continued to talk to me on and off throughout the meal, which made the experience all the more delightful.
I love fish and would have happily eaten anything on the menu but decided to go for the set menu at €39.50 for 3 courses. There was a good choice and I chose Monkfish Skewer with Peanut Sauce and Thai Salad to start. This was partly because I like monkfish but rarely have it and also because it sounded very Indonesian – despite the Thai salad. Indonesian food is very popular in Amsterdam and a cuisine to definitely try to eat while here.
It was delicious. Beautifully moist monkfish; fantastic flavours from the peanut sauce and fragrant salad.
For my main course I chose Tomato Bisque with Lobster, Scallop, Mussels, King Prawns and Basil-potato Mash.
I was aware that the purist wouldn’t necessarily think the two courses matched well – one Asian influenced, one French. But I could resist neither! They appealed most to me. And I was so pleased I went with what I fancied. The bisque was sublime; one of the best things I’ve eaten recently with a glorious flavour; the kind of dish you eat slowly to properly savour the taste. Each piece of fish was perfectly cooked. It came with a very nice salad that I ate after.
There was a very good selection of desserts and I took the cheat’s route of not choosing by having a Cafe Gourmand.
What a great way to end a fantastic meal. I should also mention my wonderful waiter who was so friendly and helpful. He told me he was a true local who’d been brought up in the immediate area. This is one of the benefits of eating alone, that strangers can be so friendly and you end up having conversations you might otherwise not have had.
I’m so glad I went back to Lucius. It was as good as I remembered and is another favourite to return to on future trips to Amsterdam.