A weekend in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is popular for many reasons!. Direct flights from Northern Ireland makes it the perfect weekend break destination. As a team, The French Rooms restaurant in Bushmills has benefited greatly from our collective trips to Amsterdam, some of which have been purely provided entertainment factor and perhaps not appropriate for this blog, others have brought recipes ideas. There is something for everyone.

We are focusing on the food in this blog although we did enjoy galleries, the museums and the canal rides. There is no shortage of things to do, in fact you need to plan multiple trips to fully explore the city . A great site which covers 50 reasons why you should visit Amsterdam is I Am Amsterdam, check it out and start planning a trip, when it is safe to do so.

Reluctant romantics

We often recall holidays by the food we enjoyed and Amsterdam gave us many delicious memories. We somewhat reluctantly joined an evening River Cruise called Lovers Canal Cruises, they had tickets available!. We expected to cringe our way around the city’s canals, red faced and feeling awkward, but what a surprise, we enjoyed delicious food which included a platter of local delicacies and the best chocolate mousse we have tasted. Wines and beers were generously poured throughout and the crew managed the mix of tour information and the space to enjoy the food and drink superbly. The canal tours gives the opportunity to view the stunning historic canal houses up close . Highly recommended.

A couple of other stand-out eateries include ‘t Nieuwe Kafe, a licensed café housed in a historic building In the middle of Dam Square, in the heart of Amsterdam, overlooking the Royal Palace. We have been here a few times as the location is superb, and the menu is varied. Expect great brunch options and we reckon the owners have been to The French Rooms, as the menu includes Flammkuchen (Tart Flambee) and filled Croissants, two firm favourites with us. The stand-out dish here was a slice of apple pie, the Dutch version, which was just about perfect in its ratio of apples to pastry.

Dutch Apple pie – ‘t Nieuwe Kafe

Grand Cafe 1e Klass, Central station is another favourite. Named after the former first-class waiting room, this restaurant is a slice of 1880’s glam. With high ceilings, wood panelled walls and a noisy parrot in the most ornate cage – this is a must see. The brunch menu is sublime but we both went for the simple Uitsmijters, which is toast with ham, a lightly fried egg, topped off with cheese and grilled. We served a crepe version of this on our breakfast menu at The French Rooms which proved a popular variation.

Finally, we should mention one other stand out foodie experience for us, the Radisson hotel. We expected a contemporary hotel and chose it for its location and price but much to our surprise it housed an atmospheric bar and great bar snacks. This area was at one time a clandestine church, with many of the original features in tact. We remember drinking Irish Coffees (insisting on Bushmills whiskey of course) and eating snacks including bitterballen (see below for recipe) .It was hard to leave this cosy spot, with its dark panelled wood, a crackling fireplace and a crow’s nest seating area.

The Raddisson Blu, atmospheric bar with a crow’s nest adorned with chandeliers


A Dutch classic for snacking. Simple to make and delicious when accompanied with a chilled beer from Lacada brewery. This batch will make approx 20 substantial bitterballen.

  • 1 tbsp. Broighter Gold rapeseed oil
  • 500g minced beef from Apperley’s
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp.  butter
  • 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup  beef stock
  • 2 tbsp beer – Lacada ‘The Slab’ pale ale
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Optional – 125g Edam cheese, diced


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 free range Glenballyeamon eggs
  •  1 1/2 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
  • oil, for frying
  • wholegrain mustard & mayo, for serving


  1. Make the bitterballen – heat a large pan over medium-high. Add the oil, minced beef beef, and onion. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, stirring, until beef is browned, about 8 minutes. Scrape beef mixture onto a plate. 
  2. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add the butter and flour and cook, stirring, until combined and flour is lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
  3. While stirring, add the beef stock and beer. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until very thick, about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the beef mixture, onion, parsley, and nutmeg. Scrape the meat mixture into a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  5. Scoop and roll chilled meat mixture into balls, squeezing a piece of Edam cheese in the centre.
  6. Make the coating: Prepare breading station with three large mixing bowls: one bowl with flour, beat the eggs in another, and the third bowl with breadcrumbs. Coat each meatball in flour and shake off excess. Then, dip each into egg mixture and then into bread crumb mixture.
  7. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet until hot. Working in batches, carefully place breaded meatballs in hot oil. Cook, turning halfway through, until golden, about 4 minutes. Remove as done with a slotted spoon to a wire sieve or paper towel lined plate.
  8. Serve with wholegrain mustard, mayonnaise a chilled Lacada beer on the side.

Local food – We have used a number of local producers from the North Coast in Northern Ireland for this recipe. To find out more about the unrivalled food available to use, check out Taste Causeway , where you can purchase directly.

Street Food – Dutch Frites

As you stroll along the canals you will be seduced by the smells of the street food carts. ‘Chip eaters’ is a derogatory terms used here which I believe covers people from elsewhere , swarming around a picturesque area’s during high season and enjoying amongst other things, the delight of chips! Well, thankfully Amsterdam celebrates this phenomena, and what makes the Amsterdam version special is the mayonnaise topping.

We have the River, we have the bike, we have chips & a dollop of my homemade chilli mayonnaise!

Try this recipe for a decent mayonnaise. Honestly you will struggle to eat shop bought mayo, something to do with the eggs for sure!

What food reminds you of Amsterdam?

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Chef owner of The French Rooms restaurant in Bushmills which is a French inspired experience soon to be offering six luxury guest suites.

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