By Nick Nugent
Brunch Battle | Nick’s Nosh
Sit back and put on your bibs as our Nick dishes out the stars.
The search for an alternative option to Greenwoods continues. I have been to thee contenders with various levels of success: Breakfast club de Pijp, Beter & Leuk, and Drovers Dog.
Breakfast club de Pijp **
Tweede Jacob van Campenstraat 140,
1073 XZ Amsterdam
Tel: 020 362 2300
If you are going to call yourself the breakfast club, you either need to be full of cool teenagers on detention or serve a good breakfast. The name alone means you have something to live up to. At night the place turns into IT19 and Italian restaurant, but during the day it’s in its breakfast guise.
With what I’m about to say I run the risk of a mafia assignation. This place is clearly run by two Italian gentlemen who have been to the Dutch school of service. So the mix of the traditionally awful Dutch service, mixed with Italian laid back attitude is a recipe for, well let’s not make any bones about it, a disaster! I was sat at their bar area for my breakfast/brunch/lunch option and so saw everything first hand. At one point one of the girls who was serving actually said to one of these Italian gentlemen its chaos! And it was. When I arrived I estimate that two tables were eating and 5-7 others were waiting. I ordered within 15 minutes of sitting down and then promptly started writing the background, which should have made this article. Let me tell you after 30 minutes I deleted it. The table who was nearest me at the bar were waiting when I had arrived it took about 45 minutes to serve them. I normally check in on FB when I go to these places so I knew how long I had been there.
Oh let me tell you about the big, loud half Italian/Dutch guy who was probably one of the owners. This is where I feel the mafia hit squad will descend on me. It was pretty clear he was probably drunk at about 4pm. He kept turning up the music louder and louder. The staff had to occasionally turn it down a bit so people could think. When I arrived I sat at a perfectly normal spot at the bar. However, when this guy’s Italian mate arrived I literally got shoved unceremoniously to the end of the bar where they also sorted out the bill payments. To say I was in the way was an understatement. Also, as I was beginning to type up this review I had my iPad with integrated Bluetooth keyboard open. The guy was very taken by this and asked a lot questions about it and when I mentioned that the keyboard was about 60 euros, he offered to buy everything: iPad and all for 60 euros. Not funny. The food played a real second fiddle to this performance, and the Eggs Benedict was actually very nicely prepared. Maybe on a better day I could just review the food, but I got the feeling that it is always like this.
Beter & leuk***
1e Oosterparkstraat 73/91
1091 GW Amsterdam
I’m trying to buy a new kitchen at the moment and if any of you have had to do this in the Netherlands you will know what a palaver this can be. There is this thing at the Amsterdam Arena called Villa Arena, which has about seven kitchen places in it. Why am I telling you this? Well this is the prelude to the breakfast/brunch option I had on the way back from a very unsuccessful visit there. I was wondering how some of these kitchen places can justify the prices they are charging for what is essentially a wooden box with some electrical equipment, which they don’t make themselves. On this occasion, one such company is trying to justify a price that is double their competitors by saying it’s because it’s XXX quality you are paying for. Sorry I don’t see it myself. I might be proved wrong and then I will let you know the culprits. Anyway, once I have my new kitchen I intend to do some other things which may interest you such as some consumer testing—but that’s for the future. For now we can focus on the brunch venue.
We took the metro to Wibautstraat and then intended to take the number 3 tram to Omlegg. However, we missed the tram. Knowing how infrequent they are on a Sunday, we decided to walk the rest of the way. We didn’t make it to Omelegg. Which will be another review in the near future. As soon as we turned to head toward the direction of Omlegg I spotted Beter & Leuk, which is also on my brunch radar. We would not get a better opportunity, so we went in.
The place is giving the off the vibe that it’s doing good things to our bodies and the planet. Very hip hippy. You probably know the sort of thing I mean? The place was full of young ladies wearing baggy, knitted jumpers. Their conversation floating between global warming and human interest topics. In the back of the restaurant, there were a number of hippy clothes on sale. On the counter were environmentally-friendly, yet artery-clogging deserts. Since I’m in my 40s I can say two young waitresses, festooned with similar garb to their clientele, served us in a relaxed, professional way. Since this Greenpeace restaurant was close to being vegetarian, the only breakfast option that suited this Neanderthal was eggs en cocotte. It took about 20 minutes to cook, which gave us ample time to mull over the kitchen choice, and also observe the new people arriving. Two more gentlemen arrived, who were either architects or Greenpeace campaigners. Since our eggs took a long time, we had plenty of time to admire their choice of soup and salad, both of which looked amazing.
We had two nice platters of eggs en cocotte, which had a little curry spice and cream cheese served with some brown bread. The taste was great, and at least one of the eggs each had a runny-ish yolk. Something to dip your bread into. The cream cheese and the curry flavour gave interesting counter points to the rich egg. It was good. I don’t want to mention the scone we shared as dessert. Best left unsaid, otherwise I would have to look too closely at their three stars from me.
Try it, it’s something a bit different.
Drovers dog ***
Eerste Atjehstraat 62
Heemstedestraat 25 Amsterdam
After giving our New Zealand cousins a go at Bakers and Roasters, I thought it would be time to try the virtues of our other antipodean friends the Ozzies. No Worries mate! On this occasion, I was on my way to Amsterdam Science Park. I don’t get out to the east as often as I should, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to see if there was something out there. I had heard of Drovers dog before, as there is one over in the west too and knew it as another potential brunch place. Since I needed an early lunch before my meeting, I thought it would be good to test it for you to see if there needs to be any fuss made about it.
Inside, it’s designed like a surf lodge for any of you who have participated in that pastime. Lots of wood, cool art, mismatched chairs, tables and lots of plants. A selection of cool music plays in the background, making it a nice relaxing place to be. They have a great selection of teas and a pretty good brunch menu. As I was writing this I saw a very impressive wrap being served, which could have been either the Vege one or the Cajun Chicken… difficult to say. Subsequently, I have been to the other location and had the Cajun Wrap, which was awkward to eat, but very tasty.
I went for the eggs benedict in order give a good comparison to other places. There were about 17 tables and a high bench spaces in the windows. It was very light and airy inside. About one third of the tables were full when I arrived. My order was take pretty promptly, with tea and orange following shortly afterwards. The eggs followed after about eight minutes and it looked pretty good on the plate. The ham was really great quality and out of the two eggs one was perfect the other hard boiled. The bread was a bit too tough for me but ok, spinach reasonably well cooked and a decent hollandaise. If you are lucky enough to live in Indische buurt or around Hemestedestraat then you have a decent brunch place in your vicinity. It still does not beat Greenwoods, but if you live in those areas I think you would not be disappointed.
As mentioned, I have subsequently been to the Hemestedestraat location, which is also a lovely relaxed place and had the corn fritters which were good, but not outstanding. Definitely worth a try.
So on balance I think for being a bit different I liked Beter & Leuk out of these three, but an honorable mention for Drovers Dog, which I think is a nice place to be even if the food can be a bit average on occasion.
Greenwoods remains the place to beat!
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