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