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Dept Agencies Agency Culture

Going Dutch: Dept shares the best business lunch spots in Amsterdam


By Sam Bradley, Journalist

February 9, 2024 | 18 min read

Eating is serious business. We continue our series on business, food and drink with a stopover in the Dutch capital.


Dept’s creatives talk us through the best places to meet and eat in Amsterdam / Unsplash

Amsterdam’s not all bicycles and beer. In fact, given the Dutch East India Company had one of the earliest corporate logos, the city has got a pretty good claim to be one of the birthplaces of modern marketing. It’s one of its contemporary centers, too, with a growing agency scene and proximity to the headquarters of several global brands, including beermaker Heineken and airline KLM.

So, picture the scene: you’ve flown into Schiphol for a meeting with a major Dutch client headquartered in the city. They’ve asked where you’d like to go for a getting-to-know-you meeting, perhaps over a coffee and a bite to eat. Where do you suggest?

To help you answer that question, Dept account director Sanne-Fleur Frencken and creative director Ramin Bahari shared a quick list of their favorite places with The Drum.

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Gentrifying influences have changed the city’s menus in recent years, Bahari says, but there are still plenty of places to go to taste the real Amsterdam. For a decent sandwich, coffee or beer, he suggests Broodje Daan.

“You can get a sandwich for €2 and you can have a typical Amsterdam conversation about what is going on in the city. You can read the local newspaper and there’s a line that always has at least 20 people waiting,” he says. For a local delicacy, Bahari and Frencken recommend Van Dobben, a local landmark that serves kroketten, Dutch breadcrumb croquettes, either as a side dish or as a sandwich filling, as well as steak tartare and pea soup.

“A small sandwich with a kroket and mustard is a really typical Dutch thing to eat,” says Frencken. Bahari says the atmosphere alone is worth a trip. “There’s always a huge line and, when you do get in, it’s always chaos. Everyone’s screaming and shouting and running with plates. It’s a really nice place to take agency folks.”

For a bigger meal, Frencken and Bahari suggest Café-Restaurant Amsterdam, a bistro-style eatery in an old factory space. It’s good for coffee, cake or a glass of wine, says Frencken. “It’s really big. It’s just near the city center. It’s easy to go with friends or colleagues or a big group. And they have steak-frites or sandwiches. It’s super easygoing.”

“Be sure to book a place,” adds Bahari. “It can be busy for a week or even two sometimes.” He also adds a word of warning for agency staffers used to fawning treatment from servers – a mild culture shock might be in store. “Don’t be shy if the service staff are very direct to you. It’s a very Amsterdam thing. People often sound very direct, almost rude, but it’s just the way service works here.”

For drinks – alcoholic and non – the pair have a range of suggestions. Brouwerij ’t IJ, a specialist brewery in the east of the city, is top of the list, its taproom located beneath the city’s biggest windmill.

“It’s really nice, it’s cosy and they have a lot of beer options – from super sweet and soft to really dark, super-manly beers – and a lot of non-alcoholic options to have with snacks,” says Frencken. Bahari notes that most Amsterdam bars will have 20 to 25 different beers available, with several non-alcoholic options among them. Amsterdam locals tend to default to Brouwerij ’t IJ, if you’re looking to fit in.

At Café de Pels, meanwhile, you can quietly try a few of those in a central, historic bar located just off the Keizersgracht canal. A literary café first established back in the 70s, Bahari says you’re likely to bump into “some famous journalists, some writer or some other creative genius that is just having a morning coffee or a beer while reading the paper. It’s iconic – a traditional, traditional bar. It’s quite a special place.”

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For those looking to celebrate an account win or agency business success, Amsterdam has no lack of nightspots. Frencken and Bahari recommend a pub from the city’s “pre-techno” days, Ruk & Pluk.

“If it’s 1am, you have work the next day and you think, ‘Only one beer at Ruk & Pluk,’ then you won’t leave before 4am,” says Frencken.

Bahari adds: “If you’re out with a client, it’s a place to have your last drink before sending them home with a small hangover in the morning.”

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