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Archive for February, 2016

Nick’s ‘W’osh | Feb 2016

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By Nick Nugent

Mr Porter ***

W Hotel


Spuistraat 175,

1012 VN, Amsterdam

Tel:  020 811 3399

Open 7 days a week

Online reservations: 


The W hotel is the latest of a string of high-end hotels which have opened in Amsterdam recently and is one of the biggest at around 280 rooms, once finished.  It occupies two sites on either side of the Spui, one in the old Telephone Exchange building and the other in the old Kas Bank building, which contains a new fine dining establishment, The Duchess. The first thing you need to know is that Mr Porter and in fact the Duchess are not the W hotel’s restaurants. They are in fact part of the Entourage Group which seems to specialise in putting high-end restaurants in hotel groups.  The group consists of Amsterdam’s places to be, such as Momo, Izkaya, The Butcher and now The Duchess and Mr Porter.  I had been to Mr Porter for a drink one Sunday afternoon with some friends so I was aware of it. On this occasion I had some former Amsterdam mates coming from abroad for dinner and I had suggested this place.

The theme of the restaurant, as the name may convey, is meat and lots of it.  I was a very lucky boy this time as I was having dinner with 5 glamorous ladies, so I was a little concerned with the meat issue, but there was enough other stuff on the menu to keep eveyone happy.  I had also been given a tour of the whole W hotel complex the day before and had the concepts of the hotel and restaurant explained to me.  If you are interested you are welcome to contact me at and I can explain, but I don’t want to spoil the all the surprises.  I will say though that the whole menu is a sharing menu.  The servers explained that approximately one starter per person and one main per person, unless you went for the huge 1Kg steaks, would be about right.  I was also feeling a bit nervous about this as I felt sure that some of the ladies really did not want to share their dishes.

So for starters we ordered the whole baked cauliflower, spicy tomato salad, charcoal grilled foie gras, grilled baby squid and yellow tail spicy ceviche.  We also had Arabic bread with a dip of cream and chili salsa.  In fact everything was quite spicy.  The foie gras was excellent, the cauliflower, which I had had before, was great and the rest was ok, but the ceviche was really not to my taste as it looked and tasted rather clumsy.  I chose a very reasonably priced De Bortoli Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 from New South Wales, Australia at about 40 euros per bottle, which was very easy to drink.

A couple of the ladies opted for fish, one picking the lobster and the other the prawns in a spicy tomato sauce.  Myself and one other friend  picked the Hanger stank and one other picked the small ribeye.  So this is where the sharing concept really falls down for me. I am not the biggest fan of this concept in any case, as I have had too many experiences with bad tapas than I care to mention.  You may know the issue.  You order a dish you think you are going to like, only for it to be set at completely the opposite end of the table from you, where it is devoured in seconds as it tastes better than all the crappy patatas bravas which others have ordered. The food came out roughly in the order which I mentioned above and we had this awkward period where the ladies who had ordered the lobster and prawns sat there looking at it as no one else had food.  We ordered some sides as well but I will get on to that later.

 I suggested that the ladies who ordered the fish dishes should start to tuck in, which they did, but we were still left with this uncomfortable half eaten plate in the middle.  I tried a bit of the lobster and prawns, both of which I thought were somewhat overcooked.  Eventually a couple of hanger steaks and a ribeye turned up.  The hanger steak was perfectly cooked and even convinced the non-meat eaters to give it a go as it looked so good.  To be honest I cannot remember exactly what sides we ordered, but there was some salad stuff and fries which all turned up at various times during the meal.  A couple more bottles of the Ozzie red later and we were done, and then the Dauphinoise potatoes turn up!!  We sent them back.  This is where this concept really falls over for me.

A look at the dessert menu revealed nothing interesting for our guests.  It was crying out for a chocolate fondant or something like that.  We had the 18:30-21:00 shift and they were expecting other guests any minute, so our allocated time was over and we had to vacate our table.  What happened next was entirely inevitable, could have been foreseen, and should have been dealt with better.   The 21:15 sitting turned up, coinciding with the 21:00 shift wanting to leave and looking to get their coats.  No host or hostess was manning the reception as they were too busy seating people and there was no one to get coats.  This meant people took matters into their own hands and started rifling through the coats to find their own.  You could have taken any coat you wanted at this time.  I still have the coat check ticket!


I need to mention the music.  On our arrival it was sort of chill out Ibiza style stuff, very nice.  By the time we were finishing our mains it was full on big room, club tunes.  I can only imagine if you take the 21:00 sitting you are dancing on the seats by the end of your starters.  For the clubbers out there, it would get you in the mood, although possibly the food is a bit too heavy for full on clubbing afterwards.

The entourage group have created another destination restaurant for the hipsters and boys and girls about town, however this does not mask some of the problems with the format.  Some of the food is outstanding, but some is exceptionally ordinary. It is a lovely place to be with the view over the city, styling details and service quality all very good.  I just cannot get past the fact that my guests just wanted to have their own plate of food which they ordered, at the same time as everyone else.  I am not sure whether this sharing thing is to compensate for kitchen staff who cannot cook to order, but it does not work in this establishment for a group with disparate tastes like ours.  Maybe if a bunch of carnivores turn up it would be absolutely super, but for us it did not work.  Food, service and environment worth the 3 stars I gave, but concept is a big fat zero.




Nick’s Nosh | Feb 2016

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By Nick Nugent

Brasserie Ambassade ***

Herengracht 339
1016 AZ Amsterdam

Tel:  020 5550255

Open 7 days a week

Online reservations: 



I was recently asked by a friend of mine, who knows I love to eat out, where they could take a group of clients for a really nice French meal.  Let me tell you I was a bit stumped.  I have been to Flo, Sluizer, Bistro Neuf, Braque, De Compagnon and La Rive, but I really only rate La Rive and I am sure that a Michelin Star place was a bit too much for this business meal.  So I had a look at all the French-style restaurants on my list which are highly rated and saw that the only one I had not been to was Johannes. However, when I suggested it, my friends told me they thought it was just Dutch food with a French twist and not that good.  Barrique was suggested by one of my friends.  I have not been there so I could not comment and was left La Rive as my only recommendation.  This was not a position I enjoyed, not being able to recommend a restaurant and frankly I was embarrassed. So, queue some “Rocky” style music, and on to an evening of research over a bottle of wine.

From my research of French-style restaurants, the one that hit the brief was Brasserie Ambassade.  It is attached to the hotel of the same name and has been open, by the time this article has been written, for around 5 months.  The thing that stood out for me was how reasonable the prices were for a restaurant attached to the 4 star Hotel of the same name.  I also liked the look of the interior from the pictures on their website.

Looking at the menu it is full-on French classics.  Contrary to my initial comment I found that the starters are quite pricey, but the mains are entirely reasonable and the wine pricing was extremely reasonable.  On sitting down we took a nice glass of Bourgogne Cremant fizz.

For starters my partner went for the oysters and I asked for a starter portion of their mushroom risotto.  The oysters were well presented with the classic shallot vinaigrette and the risotto was beautifully presented with lots of well-cooked, winter vegetables.  We asked for a wine pairing with the starters and were offered a Grenache blend, Du Sud, Cotes de Thongue, Frankrijk, 2014 rosé which was light, but had enough body to stand up to the flavours.

For mains I chose the bavette steak and my partner had one of their specials which happened to be an entrecote with red wine sauce.If any of you have had a bavette steak before you will know that it has to be served almost blue.  They did ask me how I wanted it and I did say medium rare, but in the end it came rare to blue.  I knew it had to be like this and so I did not complain, but I did mention to them that if any other British person came and asked for it medium rare, they might have a problem. 

It was a great piece of steak.  We took a bottle of Lalande de Pomerol, Château Bourseau, Bordeaux, France, 2010.  It was great with the food, but it was not really a sipping wine due to the notorious amount of tannin in there. The entrecote was also very well cooked and the red wine sauce was great.  Both were served with a salad and fries.  The fries were very fresh and homemade, the salad was nicely dressed.  On the whole very reasonable brasserie style food.

We decided to share the Dessert au Chocolat which consisted of a chocolate fondant, which was a perfect accompaniment to the remaining red wine, and also the Assiette de Fromage which consisted of mostly local cheese apart from a very good Roquefort.  A decent end to the meal.

The décor inside is very smart and modern, but the abstract paintings on the walls were somewhat challenging for me.  After about 30 minutes they realised there was no music on and so this came a bit of surprise when it started, but it remained low and in the background.  The bench seats leave something to be desired for comfort as the their depth meant you could not rest your back against the wall, unless you are a very lanky Dutch person.  I think cushions need to be provided for those of us who are shorter in the pant department.  These guys should have and would have got 4 out of 5 but they committed one cardinal sin at the end.  I really hate it when you have finished and you have the dregs of wine left, but you still have to wave frantically to get some attention to pay the bill.  Maybe they think they are being very generous and giving you space to chat etc.  When I’m done I’m done and I want to move, so hanging around for 10 more minutes really did not appeal.  Apart from that the service was excellent all night.

They suggested we have a look at the bar downstairs called The Library.  The idea is that anyone who has written a book and stays in the hotel should leave a signed copy.  They have now got over 4000 volumes beautifully displayed.  It was a nice place to enjoy a digestif.

I don’t think I mentioned it before but the restaurant gives exceptional value for money on their Champagnes.  Of those I can remember they have Laurent Perrier, Pol Roger, Louis Roederer and, my personal favourite, Bollinger, all for € 69.50 per bottle.  I need to find something quick to celebrate as that is outstanding value.  On the whole I think if you fancy that brasserie experience you cannot go far wrong with this place.  I just hope they can keep it up and keep the prices down.



International Women’s Day – 8th March 2016

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By Dee Bodle

International Women’s Day – 8th March 2016

Do you know that on March 8th it is ‘International Women’s Day’ and people worldwide celebrate this wonderful day so that they can honour all women and their achievements.

It began during the Industrial Revolution!  Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland began International Women’s Day in 1911 during a time of great chaos, population growth, and the forefront of the women’s rights movement.  In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay and the right to vote. On March 8, 2011, there were 377 live events in 152 countries to celebrate 100 year anniversary. Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world. 

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress made, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. The Netherlands is changing into a very cosmopolitan place to live and work and we all need to expand our networks to flourish and becoming a serious player on the world stage. Every day people move to the Netherlands where new and exciting businesses are opening their doors, and communities are alive with activity.


If any International inspiring women would like to celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th March please  email Dee Bodle below to find out more.

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