Eating Out

Weeknight Dinner at Cafe Par Hasard in Hoofddorppleinbuurt

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Earlier today Bogdan and I found ourselves at the Cafe Par Hasard in Hoofddoorppleinbuurt (wow what a long name) by total happenstance. We were in the area viewing an apartment with our new real estate agent. A luminous turn of the century two bedroom with fresh oak floors, a bright white kitchen, original stained glass pocket doors, and the showstopper – a hydrangea lined garden with expansive views of sky and the bell tower of an old factory now converted to loft style apartments.

The apartment was off the Hoofddoorplein (literally translates as clog village square), at the end of Leimuidenstraat (slate street), a quiet street framed by old growth trees and four floor walk-ups with spacious second floor terraces overlooking the sidewalks below. And in case you’re wondering, the very long name of the neighbourhood – Hoofddoorppleinbuurt – means clog village square neighbourhood. So quaint.

After our viewing we walked back towards Hoofddoorplein, the main square and namesake of the neighbourhood. We took a seat for a debrief with our agent at the first place we saw – which happened to be Cafe Par Hasard situated squarely at Hoofddorpplein 1.

We ordered a bottle of sparkling water to share and talked shop for a bit. Amsterdam real estate trends, the home buying process, our general thoughts on the properties we viewed and so on. After we were finished and had shaken hands, our agent took off and left us sitting on the beautiful sun drenched patio primed to enjoy a nice dinner on the town – so that we did.

The menu is compact but varied featuring classics like beef carpaccio, roast chicken, cocktail shrimp, spare ribs and flank steak but also some regional and typical Dutch specialties like Limburg style zuurvlees (vinegar marinated beef), Indonesian style marinated chicken thighs, meat and cheese croquettes, fried cod, and of course double fried Belgian style fries. There’s also a decent selection of wines (and recommended pairings on the menu) as well as a number of Dutch beers on tap and by the bottle.

We learned from the menu and the enthusiastic inducements of our server that we had unwittingly sat down at the eatery with the best fries in Amsterdam – or so they claimed. In a city replete with double fried Belgian style fries – claiming to have the best fries of them all is a big deal.

When it came to ordering, Bogdan got the classic burger (cheddar, onion, lettuce, and house made sauce) and I got the fish and chips Dutch style (made with classic Dutch fish cod). I haven’t eaten good fried fish since the last time I ate kibbeling at The Seafood Shop and I’ve been craving fried fish for weeks so needless to say I was going into this with some very high expectations.

Bogdan’s burger and the famous ‘best fries in Amsterdam’ came out first. We both dove into the fries mid-sentence. I don’t know if they’re the best fries in Amsterdam but they are definitely up there. A very large basket full of perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside double fried Belgian style fries (with the skin on as I like it) with a tangy house made mayo sauce. What’s not to love?

A few minutes later the cod came out and Bogdan and I completely stopped talking and absorbed into our meals with single-minded focus. My fried cod was battered in a light and crisp coating reminiscent of tempura. The fish flesh itself was flaky, flavourful and very tender. It came hot, tasted fresh, and the portion size was generous. The first few bites were supremely satisfying but I have to admit that by the end it started to feel a little oily. Maybe that’s just the nature of fish and chips. It came with tartar sauce that seemed house made – a creamy base and large pieces of pickle and capers with a zingy acidic finish which certainly helped to balance out the richness of the fish. There was also a side salad that had a really good dressing – good enough to be on an entree salad. It provided another fresh counterpoint to the fish.

Bogdan’s burger was another story entirely. It was so good. So good in fact that I had to stop myself from eating it all when Bogdan offered a taste and so good that Bogdan told the server he would be recommending the burgers here to anyone who asks him where to get a good burger.

Forget best fries in Amsterdam, how about best burger in Amsterdam? Seriously I never thought I would move to Europe and miss American food – but I do! Finding a decent burger in Amsterdam isn’t easy – even some of the places known for their burgers don’t really measure up. But this burger. This burger was so close to perfect. Seriously if you’re in the neighbourhood and craving an honest to goodness, no-frills just-right burger – this is the one.

All in all it was a good experience. Service was a little slow and uncoordinated but at the end when our bill came the server told us they’d only been open at this location for 5 days and that’s why it might have seemed a little ‘chaotic’. Maybe that’s also why the fish was a little oily? In any case I’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt here – if this is them right out of the gate it can only get better. I’d definitely eat here again and maybe even stop into the other location in Amsterdam in De Pijp.

Prices for entrees are a little on the high side (€14.50 for the burger and €17.50 for the large portion of fish) but they come with very generous portions of the best fries in Amsterdam and the drinks (or the beers at least) are quite reasonably priced – just €3 for a frosty Brand on tap. In total our bill came to €42.50 for two entrees and three drinks. Not bad for a night on the town and a few hours of good atmosphere in the sun.

For more info on menus and locations of Cafe Par Hasard see the website.

Until next time,

Cristina

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