“ Address: Willem van Weldammelaan 4 / 1082 KV / Amsterdam „
~Another Day Another Dinner~
I go to Holland at least once a month, often more, because we have a monthly team meeting which we combine with another of the monthly meetings so that everyone has to stay over. That means we've tried a lot of different restaurants for our team dinners over the years. I'm pretty scathing about Dutch restaurants and my expectations are never very high. Delikeet was the latest of a long list we've tried and was far from the worst. I suspect we'll be using it again in the not too distant future.
Delikeet is not a place you're going to stumble across - in fact I am not sure I could find it again without a bunch of other people to follow or a Sat Nav. I'd long heard from another colleague about his favourite place in south Amsterdam and I suspect - since we found him walking along as we made our way there - that this was the place he'd been recommending for so long.
Delikeet is in an area that's mostly residential with a few shops but not many. If you know Amsterdam, it's just south of the E19/A10 also known as the Ringway Zuid. It's equidistant from the Amsterdam Zuid and RAI railway stations and about a 15-20 minute walk from either. The nearest Metro stop is A. J. Ernststraat and you can get there on Tram 5 or Tram 51. We stay at the Novotel close to the RAI station and walked from there on a chilly November evening.
The restaurant is nothing remarkable to look at from the outside especially in winter. Looking at their website it looks to have a vibrant and lively terrace in the summer months but all of that was well packed away at this time of year. We entered via a doorway with a typically Dutch heavy black curtain hanging on a circular rail. This is handy if one or two people enter together as it stops the cold air rushing in but it's pretty tricky to manage with ten people. Inside we found a dining area with tables for perhaps 30 to 40 people in total. Only two of these were already occupied when we rolled in at about 7.30 and aside from those people, I don't think more than another two to four people came in all evening.
The interior is decorated with some of the most spectacular flower displays and the ugliest portraits I've ever seen. I think one was supposed to be Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady. We had booked a table for eight but thanks to running into two other colleagues on the way there we needed a table for ten. The staff reorganised the layout of the tables without a fuss even though it meant we pretty much blocked the pathway through the restaurant. Perhaps they knew that nobody else was booked in that evening. One of our locally based colleagues had turned up early - or rather it's more correct to say she turned up on time and we were all late. She'd started on the wine so when we were offered a choice of three white wines, she made a strong case for the Pinot Grigio and we were easily persuaded. We ordered a bottle of the pinot and a bottle of red although I wasn't paying any attention to which type as I'm not a red wine drinker.
~Slow Slow Quick Quick Slow~
My biggest bug-bear about Amsterdam restaurants is slow and lousy service. It's not unusual to be sitting in a restaurant for an hour without even getting a drink or seeing a menu. Thankfully this didn't happen at Delikeet at all. I suspect that our group secretary had done a deal with the restaurant and agreed a very restricted menu in order to speed things up and possibly keep the price down. As a result each course offered a choice of only three dishes. Having checked the menus on line, it looks like you can get some amazing food if you're not on a special deal so I'd be interested to go back and try Delikeet again with a bit more freedom to choose what I want.
With drinks poured, the waitress (or for all I know she might have been the owner) came to tell us the menu. Yes, I said 'tell us'! Rather than hand out a list of our choices she stood at one end of the table and recited the options then moved to the other end and repeated them. Then back to the first end to take our orders. For starters and mains there were a choice of vegetarian, fish or meaty dishes. The starters were a goat cheese and mushroom 'thing', tuna and salmon sashimi, and steak tartar. Anyone spotted the weirdness of two RAW starters? I was amazed that any restaurant would apparently be so desperate to save on the electricity bill that they'd give you a choice of raw meat or raw fish. For mains the choices were a steak - I think it was tournedos but don't hold me to that, I've not had meat in 25 years - a sea bass dish and a vegetarian risotto. Predictably enough I went 'fish-fish' which seemed only slightly less bizarre than people going steak-steak.
Whilst we waited for our orders we were offered thick slices of delicious, crusty granary bread with a choice of olive oil or butter. We polished these off and then a colleague asked for more. Due to the expectation of slow service we tend to do this because we're generally so hungry by the time food arrives that we could eat the table. However, I'd say at least half the time when we ask for more bread the staff just ignore us. Not this time, thankfully.
Starters arrived in good time - no doubt helped by two of the three options being uncooked. The mushroom and goat cheese dish was grilled and declared by those who had it to be very good. The steak tartar looked absolutely disgusting and rather too much like baby food. Obviously I've never eaten steak tartar but I've seen a lot of it, especially in the days when I used to go to eastern Europe in the mid 1990s when it seemed to be a particular favourite. I've always seen it as a dish you 'construct' yourself, mixing together the various components like raw egg and onion into coarsely minced beef. This was a pre-mixed steak tartar that was so finely mushed that it turned my stomach to look at it and one of the group said she'd been up half the night after eating it. Given that her main course was a veg risotto, it's hard to imagine it wasn't the steak tartar that got things moving.
In contrast to the icky-looking steak tartar, my sashimi was out of this world. I mentioned in a recent sushi restaurant review that I feared I'd lost my raw fish 'mojo' but this confirmed it was back with great force. A black slate was laid out with a row of five or six slabs of raw salmon and the same number of pieces of raw tuna. Wasabi and soy sauce were supplied for us to adjust to taste. I started with the salmon, saving the tuna as it's my favourite, and preferring not to mix the two flavours too much. I chomped through the salmon thinking how fabulously fresh and juicy it was and then the tuna blew my head off with its sheer excellence. I could happily have skipped my main course and asked for the same again. Checking the online menu, this dish would set you back Euro15.50 which is a lot for a starter, even one of this great quality. Steak tartar would cost Euro13.50 and I've not been able to find an indicative price for the goat cheese dish.
~The Main Event~
We'd got off to a great start and I was excited to see what the mains would bring. We didn't have too long to wait fortunately and the steaks arrived first each accompanied by a metal stand holding a paper cone of chips. The colleagues who's asked for steak had given a really diverse mixture of instructions on how they wanted it cooked and each said they got what they'd requested. Only one person went for the risotto and I was glad I'd skipped it as it just looked a bit boring. Our sea bass came with a mound of cous cous and two fillets of fish crossed on top. It wasn't the most memorable of flavour combinations or particularly striking presentation but the food quality was excellent and nobody left much uneaten. Of course, those of us with the cous cous got a little jealous and when we identified that there was an additional cone of chips on the table we shared them out and scoffed the lot. The Dutch make fantastic chips every time.
A week after the dinner I was struggling to remember what I'd had for pudding. Normally I don't feel much interested in pudding and give it a miss but I could remember I'd had something but not what it was and I had to interrogate my colleagues to see if they could remember. I recalled that there's been something chocolatey, a crème brulee and that some had managed to persuade the restaurant to give them some berries that weren't on the menu. I knew I'd not had any of these but I was reminded I'd had a cheesecake with lemon sorbet. No wonder I'd forgotten as the cheesecake had been deeply disappointing and totally forgettable.
~Payment and a few other details~
Coffees and mint teas were requested by a few of the group and then the boss paid up - my apologies, I didn't catch sight of the bill - and we headed back to the hotel. I would estimate that the three course menu was probably similar to the menu price I've seen on line which was Euro36,50 a head. With my starter at Euro15,50 and most of the mains at around Euro25 or more, I would guess the deal would equate to getting your pudding for free. However, of course, I can't confirm this. Equally I didn't see the prices on the wine list. I would recommend you budget for around Euro100 for dinner for two. It's not a bargain but the food and service were so much better than other places where we've paid similar prices that I'd go back again on the strength of the sashimi alone. It's worth knowing also that this restaurant DOES accept credit cards - Mastercard and Visa but not Amex. This is not something you can take for granted in Holland.
Willem van Weldammelaan 4, 1082 KV Amsterdam
Tel (020)66 13 730
Open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 11 pm