Chef Grae Nonas's guide to the city.
Grae Nonas is the co–executive chef at Austin’s Olamaie, where he cooks fantastic modern Southern food. He was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015. Here, he gives us his guide to eating and drinking your way through Amsterdam.
I was invited to Amsterdam by the Waldorf Astoria to collaborate with their chef, Sidney Schutte, on a dinner series. I loved the history and culture of the city, the cobblestone streets, canals and little bridges. Everything is so dreamy. The best way to see the city is to take a canal cruise. The Nine Streets shopping district is cute and provides a classic look of Amsterdam with a wide array of stores. And I loved the ox sausage, cheese and beer bread. Any old bar that serves food will have these things. The perfect snack with a few pints of local ale.
Awesome Toro Tartare: Brasserie Goldfinch
After eating at Librije Zusje and Brasserie Goldfinch, chef Sidney Schutte’s restaurants in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, I was in love. Schutte is the masterful genius behind the multi-course tasting menu at Librijie and the whimsical yet fully-packed-with-a-punch menu at the brasserie. What appeared to be a tube of toothpaste was a delicious wasabi mayo to accompany a blue fin toro tartare with fried shiso chips, soy sauce gelée, tiny fried shrimp and avocado. A must-go if you are staying at the Waldorf Astoria or if you are looking for really delicious food in a relaxed comfortable setting. When you go to Librije, roll it out and get the wine pairing. Sascha the general manager will pour some of the most incredible wines you’ll ever drink. Herengracht 542-556
Meat Multiple Ways: Guts and Glory
This was one of my favorite meals of 2015. Guts & Glory offers a prix fixe menu that features special seasonal dishes that use a whole animal. The menu we sampled showcased beef. Every dish was perfectly executed and highlighted the beef—from whipped beef fat butter with fresh baked bread to a cold consommé of bone marrow and poached cod, to veal breast and sweetbreads with parsnips. The desserts were not made with beef, which was a good a choice in my opinion. Each was delicious and complex but simple to the eye. Utrechtsestraat 6
Celebrating Seasonal Produce: Restaurant De Kas
The restaurant and nursery is located in a set of greenhouses that date back to 1926. Their menu is a daily pre fix created by the seasonal produce that is grown on the property and supplemented by local farms. The simplicity and freshness of the ingredients are showcased well on the plate with as little manipulation as possible. Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3
Delectable Pickled Herring
Pickled Herring is a Dutch staple. You’ll find these stands all over Amsterdam. When the weather and season are right the herring is delectable. Brined herring is finished with chopped onions and some vinegar. A very fatty, delicious snack to eat while biking around Amsterdam. One thing to know: You need to pick it up by its tail and hang it above your mouth to eat it. That way you get the fillet and the onions. Not a good bite while on a first date.
Dreamy French Fries: Mannekin Pis
I love potatoes. I love fried food. I love mayonnaise. This is the stuff of dreams. Not to mention, fries are essential on any vacation. I ate more fries on this five-day trip than I’ve eaten in an entire year living in the U.S. This hot spot was recommended to me by chef Sidney Schutte of Librijie. It’s an incredible fry-focused shop just next door to his apartment. They are perfectly crispy and crunchy with soft, pillowy interiors. The shop offers an array of toppings. Get a large fry with picalilli (French’s mustard with pickle sauce) or mayo with chopped onion or, better yet, all of them. Damrak 41
Gin and a Horoscope: In de Olofspoort
This bar was built in 1618 just off the red light district. It’s a hidden gem and probably not known to most tourists. Before it was turned into a bar in the ’80s, it was a bakery in one of the most dangerous areas of Amsterdam. The woman who runs this joint (Riney Reiken) is incredible. Just go and talk to her and she will tell you more about yourself than you will want to admit. She will also pour you a classic Jenever with your horoscope attached to it. Nieuwebrugsteeg 13
Where to Stay
The hotel is beautiful. It’s located on this picturesque canal lined with cobblestone streets. The staff is so knowledgeable and helpful, and their attention to detail is impressive. Herengracht 542-556