From pillowy, sweet oliebollen to shots of genever and gourmet hotdogs, Amsterdam promises rich pickings for foodie visitors in the run-up to Christmas
1) Fine dining
One of the hottest restaurants in Amsterdam is Breda. Choose from
a range of tasting menus featuring seasonal ingredients prepared with creativity and flair. The Chinese greens with wild garlic and horseradish may sound simple but they’re served with an umami-rich jus that elevates the dish into something much more than the sum of its parts.
2) Alpine comfort
Locals’ favourite, the cosy Bistrot des Alpes, comes into its own in winter. Diners wait for their table in a former ski-lift gondola but the gimmickry stops there. The owners used to live in the Haut Savoie and produce highly accomplished cooking. Try hearty Alpine favourites like tartiflette and charcuterie platters, or more delicate dishes like pan-fried char with beurre noisette.
3) Spice it up
Indonesia was once a Dutch colony so it’s no big surprise that Amsterdam is well known for its Indonesian food. For some of the best – and spiciest – in town head to Blauw, on the city’s southern outskirts. Order the rijsttafel (literally rice table) and experience the full gamut of dishes.
4) Street food
Amsterdam’s Foodhallen opened in Oud-West two years ago and it’s still one of the city’s hottest food spots. Housed in a converted tram warehouse, it’s now a sophisticated indoor street food market selling everything from Vietnamese banh mi to gourmet hotdogs.
5) Christmas shopping
The monthly Neighbourfood food and flea market in the Westergasfabriek is a special treat in December: the Christmas edition of the market (17 & 18 Dec) features hot, spiced glühwein, gift stalls and festive street food.
6) Winter beer
Amsterdam has a beer for every season, and in autumn and winter that’s the herfstbok: a strong, dark beer with a hint of caramel. Taste it with a portion of ossenworst (cold-smoked beef sausage) at Café de Dokter, an atmospheric spot packed to the rafters with curios collected over more than two centuries of operation.
7) Up north
Amsterdam Noord has been transformed from industrial wasteland to hipster paradise over the past decade. Take one of the free ferries from behind Amsterdam CS and hop over to NDSM wharf. Then settle in with
a cortado at Pllek, a cavernous bar and restaurant made from shipping containers that has a gorgeous open fire in winter and a view over the IJ waterfront.
A distillery dating back to 1679, Wynand Fockink is still serving genever (the Dutch precursor to gin) in tulip-shaped glasses to thirsty patrons. Located just off Dam Square, it attracts tourists and locals with liqueurs and an atmospheric setting.
In winter sugar-scented oliebollen are as ubiquitous in Amsterdam as stamppot. Translated as oil balls, they’re essentially a Dutch take on the beignet, served dusted with icing sugar and sometimes studded with currants (in which case they’re called krentenbollen). You’ll find them served from stalls on almost every corner but, for something different, head to Hartog’s Bakery for an unusual wholewheat version.
10) True romance
Brazilian steak might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Amsterdam, but La Cacerola is an ideal spot for a cosy, romantic meal in winter. The chef specialises in churrasco de picanha, but also turns out incredible ceviche.
How to do it
Return train fares from London to Amsterdam cost from £92 (eurostar.com). Double rooms at the Hotel Not Hotel start at €120 per night, room-only (hotelnothotel.com). More info: iamsterdam.com