From the sleazy red-light district to the notorious coffee shops, Amsterdam often gets a bad rap. However, my experience of the Dutch city was a very different one. This is how I spent one of my favourite evenings…
A drink at Pulitzer’s Bar
Set within 25 linked canal houses dating back to the 17th century, the Pultizer Hotel is one of Amsterdam’s finest locations to spend the night. The recently refurbished bar is equally impressive. Made up of three different spaces, each comes complete with its own individual décor and style. On arrival just before 6pm, the main bar area was packed so we found a spot slightly away from the hustle and bustle in the open conservatory that connects the bar to the hotel.
The drinks menu delivers not only premium cocktails made with care but also a story behind each drink. Our knowledgeable waiter Valentine was kind and attentive despite the array of people to serve, and we tried a selection of cocktails between the two of us. Our favourite was the Jackie Rose – a sweet, tart and refreshing cocktail made with Apple Bulliet Rye, Pink Citrus and Grenadine.
Prinsengracht 323, 1016 GZ Amsterdam, Netherlands; +31 20 523 5235; pulitzeramsterdam.com
Dinner at Taiko
Set within the Conservatorium Hotel, Taiko is a hidden gem. Hotel restaurants are notoriously hit and miss but luckily this was a hit. The award-winning Asian-inspired dishes are created by Executive Chef Schilo van Coevorden and the atmosphere is elegant meets laidback.
Our welcome was atmospheric with a gentleman playing the Taiko drum as we entered through a walkway of overhanging trees. The aesthetic is classy – think exposed red brick, dark wood and bamboo palms. I was lucky to be seated facing the kitchen, visible through the floor to ceiling glass window.
A real mix when we visited. On one side there was a large family with well-behaved children who were clearly used to eating in nice establishments, while on the other there was a double date including an American lady not aware of her own volume. There were other couples and groups seated throughout the night just enjoying the great atmosphere and incredible food.
The A La Carte option was tempting but most people, including us, were there for the Progressive Omakase Menu ($115) and drink pairing experience ($65). Omakase is a Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose your order, and the Progressive Omakase Menu is a 13 part tasting menu.
Each dish had something new to offer and flavours were put together expertly. A couple of standouts were the Vietnamese Sea Banquet, a selection of mussels, clams and shrimp all with powerful and different tastes. The pigeon was cooked to perfection, we just wished there was more of it.
On arrival, we were offered a glass of champagne – the sort of welcome I like. The glass of Henri Giraud was beautifully light tasting and went down far too easily. After this, we sampled an espresso martini, and it did not disappoint.
Our beverage experience was equally as excellent as the food, and each wine complimented the accompanying dish perfectly. After our sixth or seventh glass (I lost count), we were suitably full on both food and wine.
Taiko Amsterdam, The Conservatorium,Van Baerlestraat 27, 1071 AN Amsterdam; +3120570000; taikorestaurant.nl