When you don’t live in the West side ‘hood’ of Amsterdam this venue is somewhat hidden. Our hidden gem for now, but we believe it will not take long until the rest of the neighborhood and foodie crowd discovers Bar Breitner.
From the day we’ve settled in this part of town, we see many venues come and go. Some have found the right formula and are here to stay, and some probably haven’t had what it takes to lure in the guests. In the case of this ‘brasserie’ (the French word for brewery-TD), they have all the elements to make it a success. The neighborhood residents being from different walks of life, are best served with a new venue where they feel at home and which reflects a hint of the city’s heritage.
The heritage part is an interesting story. One should ask Breitner’s co-owner Peter Janovitz ( who runs the brasserie with Bram de Vries) for these insights. Reading the book about Gerard Heineken -the grandfather of the famed Freddy Heineken- could be helpful, but Peter takes pleasure in sharing his knowledge about the subject, illustrated by two old prints in the doorway.
Not only old prints, also other authentic props such as vintage toys and bird cages were used to enhance the heritage feel of the place. The venue has a circular shape, which makes it spacious and suitable for the brasserie-vibe as we’ve often experienced in Paris. In the left back you’ll notice the decorative round mirrors; an almost indispensable brasserie-element. The bar -with the name ‘Breitner’ in the tiles- is the big eyecatcher, as well as the brass Heineken vessels behind glass on the right hand side of the bar.
The food is in line with the atmosphere. Rustic French cuisine which tastes wonderful with a cold beer or a glass of wine. A selection of the menu: Rilettes de Porc, Steak Tartare, Cassoulet, Canard Confit, Boeuf Bourguignon, Côte de Boeuf…Classic dishes for those who love a solid meal, and are -preferably- carnivores. But they haven’t forgotten the vegetarians or those who favor fish at Breitner, as the menu also includes some veggie starters and 3 meatless main dishes – a Quiche, Mille Feuille or Clafoutis with seasonal vegetables. We would have liked to see a few ‘Plateaus de Fruits de Mer’ on the menu, but we’ll settle with the Fines de Claire Oysters, Marinated Salmon, Bisque de Homard, Dorade Royale, Breitner Bouillabaisse and Coquilles for now.
We’re both meat- and fish lovers, and we’ve already dined twice at Breitner (don’t blame us, we live around the corner). The first round we had a selection of the starters and the desserts, and the coquilles as a main course. These were served on a mousseline of parsnip, thinly sliced fennel and a jus of shellfish. The coquilles (5 pieces) had the perfect cuisson, and that counts more for me than the garnish. My friend was not so fond of the parsnip mousseline, but that’s a matter of taste.
When it comes to desserts I have a soft spot for ‘Moeulleux au Chocolat’. The plain version, with a scoop of vanilla ice. Though the Tarte Tatin and Crêpes with Nutella made me quite happy too, the Tarte au Citron needs some refinement (less sugar, lighter structure?) One tip: these desserts can be a tad too heavy after a solid meal, so either take a starter and main, or main and dessert. Unless you believe you can handle 3 courses.
A journalist friend tipped me to try the cassoulet, because he claimed it was ‘formidable’! I wasn’t in the mood for that kind of dish the first time around, yet, on the second visit I couldn’t hold back the urge to try it, and oh boy, it was GOOD. The white beans soft and refined. Paired with tender pork and duck that melts on the tongue, plus, the savoury sausages by Brandt&Levie…If it’s comfort food you’re after, this is your dish! Especially on a cold Winter’s day. Since my table companion and I were on a roll, we decided to try the Steak Tartare as well. I rarely order it in restaurants (raw meat, raw egg yolk and all) but after the perfectly served cassoulet I couldn’t resist. Very nice and well seasoned, but -that’s also a matter of taste- I’ve added a little more spice.
Breitner opened a few days prior to our first visit so the staff had to warm up a little. Having journalists and critical food bloggers over to review your restaurant can cause jittery amongst the waiters, but we believe it’s part of the game, and the fact that the owners are attentive to what goes on, will only help improve the service, which results in satisfied guests. A lunch or dinner at a brasserie is meant for those who look for an unpretentious, relaxed setting and well prepared comfort food. Hence, that’s exactly where Breitner stands for. Don’t be surprised if you spot us there regularly.
Van der Palmkade 13
Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner:
Sunday-Thursday 8 am – 1 am
Friday, Saturday 8 am -3 am
For more information and reservations click here.
All images © The Digitalistas, except for image 8 and 9, courtesy of Breitner.