Sleek Restaurants of Amsterdam: Balthazar's Keuken
[Assorted appetizers at Balthazar's Kitchen]
A fabulous girl I know from work, an accountant by day, is a serious kickboxer. Yup, think Million Dollar Baby. When it comes time for a match, she trains hard and consumes all the calories she needs. Lunching with her makes me feel like a wimp -- portions that throw any diet out of the window.
When it comes to food, Gabi is a connoisseur in the Amsterdam foodie scene. I "interviewed" her once on her favorite eateries in town and she was kind enough to list them all out on a piece of draft paper, along with a line explaining each place's key characteristic. Once, we've gone together to one of the places she'd recommended - Pata Negra, a lively tapas bar in Utrechtsetraat that has been faithful in serving latenight bites to merrymakers in search of the scarce working kitchen past 9.
Her favorite haunt in the list was this small Meditarranean place -- Balthazar's Keuken in the Jordaan. There's no menu. Instead, you get to choose a meat, fish or vegetarian set dinner that the chef would create for the evening. It comes with an assortment of appetizers and a dessert to complete the meal.
I made my reservation (open only for dinners from Wednesday to Friday), and showed up for the second seating at 8.30. There was a gathering crowd on stand-by for their reservations. The interesting thing was how the restaurant owners were able to control the traffic. They technically have a right to request the first seating guests to leave by that time.
We were completely pleased with the entire meal. I haven't been so excited about a particular food for a long time, but I remembered savoring every bit of the fried Indian-inspired appetizer with onions in a spice-loaded fritter-coating. The goat-cheese with olives went very well with the farm bread that was served and the server was more than happy to replenish the bread basket. We each had salmon on risotto and a duck with new potatoes as the main course, and was served a delightful coconut ice-cream to end the meal on a sweet note. Plenty to fill the tummy and lots to offer for a cosy dinner for two. This is truly a gem for Amsterdam.
In the know:
Elandsgracht 108, Amsterdam
Reservations in advance: +31 (0)20 420.21.14