1st Visit: Lunch Saturday 16th 2017 (19.25/ 20) Elegant and precise cooking with a real sense of place, set in a beautifully calm, light and informal dining room, though slightly let down by an oddly under par service. Food-wise it was one of the best meals we’ve eaten all year (and ever), but still I’m left with the distinct impression we’ve only scratched the surface of what delights can be found here. We can not wait to return. (Click on the score to see the rating system and why I write these reviews!) €€€€€ 6 course lunch €195 3 Michelin stars since 2011 Gault&Millau 19/20 OAD Best European Restaurants No. 25 Worlds 50 Best No. 61 Hertog Jan has been high on my restaurant wish list for longer than I care to remember. Widely recognised as one of the better restaurants in Europe, probably at the forefront of innovative fine dining coming out of Belgium, and one of only three 3 star Michelin establishments in the country, this place is ‘worth a special trip’ in the truest sense. …
(16 / 20) Business dinner favourite in transition to a new team. Well thought out and really beautifully presented dishes which still lack a little oompf but which show a lot of promise. Decent if slightly erratic service and all at a very sensible price point. Recommended already, I expect as the team settles in it will just get better and better, especially if they manage to transition the menu a little more back to concentrating on fish and a little less to hotel menu standards.
A comprehensively reviewed guide to the best fine dining and casual fine dining restaurants in Amsterdam
(17.75 / 20) An absolute gem of a restaurant housed in the beautiful Dylan hotel in the center of Amsterdam’s historic canal belt. Elegant, precise and deceptively simple classic French preparations are given a Dutch twist and sent out to the beautifully calm dining room where diners are taken care of by the current Gault&Millau Maitre D’ of the year. (They also have a Chefs Table which I can’t recommend enough). For me, Vinkeles is so far out in front of the pack of 1 star restaurants in town that I already assume it has 2 macarons – an oversight I should hope is rectified by Michelin sooner rather than later.
(15.75 / 20) One of the better casual fine dining spots in Amsterdam serving uncontroversial fare with the odd moment of brilliance. Despite now having a star, if you come here expecting Michelin-style food you may well be disappointed. Irrespective, it stays high on my list of recommendations in town, especially for those looking for good price/quality, in a very central location, and where it’s usually possible to get a table.
(17.5 / 20) A global smorgasbord of interesting and delicious plates infused with classic French technique and peppered with modernist influences. On a good day, which this certainly was, this is easily an 18. But the restaurant lacks consistency. And though I’d personally always prefer to eat somewhere inconsistent with a chance of brilliance than somewhere predictably mediocre, it would be inappropriate to think that that’s acceptable to everyone. Especially when paying this much to eat.
(17/20) Thoughtful dishes full of flavour, with a heavy focus on vegetables, presented in a calm and well proportioned dining room. This is a little oasis of fine dining right in the middle of one of the most raucous parts of central Amsterdam, and on this performance certainly in the top few of the one star restaurants in the city.
(18 / 20) A fortress of French fine dining left happily unscathed by widely shared but very silly review from a critic who should have known better. There are certainly things that one can find to criticise about Le Cinq, but the food is good, often great, and to my mind it gets the balance mostly right between respecting classic tradition and embracing modern techniques. The wonderful service here is the real star; It is attentive, warm and sincere, and that as much as anything else will bring us back.
(19 / 20) L’Arpège is the dining expression of Proust’s Madeleine moment. But it is also the manifestation of a memory that most of us never even had to start with – that of the taste of real food, cooked perfectly. It is the truest, most sincere demonstration of love in any food that I’ve come across at a fine dining restaurant.
(16.75 / 20) A relatively uninspiring menu in an extraordinarily over-the-top setting. The food is perfectly good, but overall lacks personality, and is disappointing for a two star – especially one that was once hoped to be Amsterdam’s first restaurant with 3 macarons. The vegetarian offering was simply not good enough, and we were left with the distinct feeling that the exorbitant cost of dinner went more towards the glamourous lighting and the luxurious carpet than what was actually on the plate. In fairness on previous visits it has been better, but Ciel Bleu needs to move with the times to keep up with the other top restaurants in town – and that will mean transforming more than just its dining room.