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Interior of Novi
Image from Lotte Bergman

New in Town (May 2024)

In May, it’s an all-day and all-night affair, with new restaurants, bars, and clubs opening across Amsterdam that will keep you fed, watered, and dancing from first light to witching hour.

Tom Flanagan
Digital Editor at covering culture online and print for the City Guide Magazine.
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Sunshine hours at Restobar Jacob

Oud-West’s Bilderdijkstraat has long been one of the neighbourhood’s most popular streets, a sunlit tree-lined avenue with some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. And on the corner of Bilderdijkstraat and Jacob van Lennepkade, Jacob Restobar has emerged – an all-day restaurant and café set to cater to the day birds and night owls that haunt this part of town. Run by siblings Lewis, Morris and Lynn van Breda – whose family owns several other bars, including Cafe Weber, Helmers and Lux – Jacob was thought up as somewhere that could pin down that elusive crowd of people who want a little bit of everything all in one place. 

“We wanted something that could be open the whole day, so we knew the food needed to be good,” says Lewis. “The idea is to cater to people who want snacks on the terrace but also a little more fine dining inside, so we’re there for every moment of the day.” The location was a big part of achieving that, bringing a little indoor-outdoor flow to the space, he explains. “We had our eyes on this location for years – it’s one of the best terraces in the city.” He’s not wrong. The corner Jacob hugs attracts sun (when it’s out) all day, a perfect compliment to the golden-orange awnings of the restaurant’s exterior and the warm wood interior that brings in much of the natural light.

Beyond the alfresco appeal, the menu has its own pull. Designed by the team behind ever-inventive Euro Pizza in Noord, it’s a modern European-inspired menu, which broadly means classic seasonal dishes whipped up into a little contemporary drama. Think raw hamachi (a type of yellowtail fish) with sea buckthorn and sweet potato, or yellow beetroot in beurre blanc, plus all your usual suspects like chicken wings and fritto misto (lightly battered food) for those terrace afternoons. It’s the range of easy food to polished plates that Lewis hopes will set Jacob apart. “What makes us different is that we’re a very good restaurant and a good bar. In this neighbourhood, you’re usually one or the other”. Only time will tell, but by the looks of the crowds already gathering at Jacob, they’re onto something.

Jacob Restobar | Bilderdijkstraat 217, Oud-West

Tuscan plates at Novi

It seems like almost everyone wants to live in Watergraafsmeer. Oost’s leafiest enclave has historically always been a desirable neighbourhood, much of that courtesy of the mercantile Middenweg – a long avenue stretching from the Ringdijk down past Frankendael Park – that is a major draw for shoppers and eaters. And a new Italian restaurant on the street, Novi, looks to entice even more visitors to this corner of town. Launched by the team behind Kop van Oost, Novi’s attitude towards food is quality, with a little bit of decadence thrown in there.

“We like our food to be easy and low-key,” explains Eshwin Boetting, one of Novi’s co-founders alongside Maarten Koelink. “Pure, simple, rustic. It’s slow food – think fresh pasta, fresh bread and focaccia.” The menu mostly looks to regions like Tuscany for inspiration, with a range of dishes (and wines) that are earthy, rich and comforting. Cacio e pepe bucatini is served up with Dutch prawns, slow-cooked beef is folded through fresh pappardelle, while elsewhere, veal, prosciutto and sage butter combine for a rich main of Saltimbocca, and aubergine, tomato and mozzarella team up for a luxurious melanzane

As far as space goes, Novi is self-anointed as the “Italian living room of Watergraafsmeer”—and that’s true if you’re dining in one of the many palatial villas of Tuscany. But by Amsterdam standards, it is grand, complete with stone walls, olive green and marigold decor, and a floor-to-ceiling Crittall window that looks out onto its own private garden. The decor is softly luxurious, a bit like the menu. For Watergraafsmeer, it might just be a winner.

Novi | Middenweg 35, Oost

Vietnamese coffee at Bonjour Càphê

Some things are touched by fate. That’s at least how Kevin Le (30) feels about his Vietnamese fusion cafe, Bonjour Càphê, which recently launched in the Jordaan. It started out as a pop-up for Vietnamese coffee – essentially coffee served over ice and condensed milk (it’s delicious) – and it was never meant to be more than that. But the pop-up’s popularity, coupled with Kevin’s impromptu ‘homecooked dinners’ that he organised for regulars, made it clear to him that people wanted something more. 

“This was an unexpected twist,” explains Kevin, a Vietnamese national whose background is in fashion and marketing. “I’d been missing Vietnamese coffee after going back home, so I opened this pop-up to fill that gap. Customers started asking for food, so I offered a ‘home-cooked’ option where people could come for dinner I made. And people kept coming back.” Since then, it’s taken off, and while Kevin still does the dinner menus, they’ve leased out the space for a year and made Bonjour Caphe a permanent venture. With a day deli menu serving crunchy bánh mì (a traditional Vietnamese baguette filled with meat, herbs and spicy sauce), all-day Vietnamese coffee and a variety of special experiences, including a secret Sunday brunch menu (customers need to request it if they’re in the know) with off-menu dishes, the café is thriving.

“A lot of what I make are dishes I grew up with that Vietnamese people like,” says Kevin. “Like my sticky rice bowl with coconut, which [Vietnamese] students from all over the country travel to us for. Or my favourite dish called ‘Love of My Life’, which is a rice paper salad.” It’s this love that makes Bonjour Càphê so appealing, both in its menu and decor, which is minimal and modern, more like your average Vietnamese home. “I wanted this space to feel like home as I know it. People see Vietnam in a particular way, and I wanted to deconstruct perceptions in the design by avoiding things like lanterns and filling it up with things I love.” The space is a bit like someone’s kitchen: clean lines, a tall wall shelf with goods and homewares and light wood tables. It’s minimal, but it wields its own kind of magic, and to Kevin, it’s a wish fulfilled. “It’s a dream. It’s like I’m finally awake.”

Bonjour Càphê | Eerste Lindendwarsstraat 1, City Centre

Wild meats at De Predetariër

An artisanal sandwich shop on De Pijp’s buzzing Gerard Doustraat, De Predetariër is more than just an excellent spot to grab lunch – it’s an ode to responsible meat consumption. The founders of De Predetarier, friends Kaj, James, and Philip, coined a new term for this way of eating: predetarianism. “People started asking us, what are you?” says Kaj, “We’re not carnivores, we’re not vegetarians. We’re predetarians. That name caught on for a lot of people.” A predetarian’s diet is mostly plant-based, with one exception: responsibly sourced game meat. Making a conscious choice to opt out of the harmful factory farming industry, De Predetariër’s meat is sourced from wild animals that roam freely across the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland.

The idea to start De Predetariër traces back to the trio’s love of nature. Fueled by their shared passion for the wild, these avid birdwatchers, fishers, and hunters left their corporate jobs and embarked on a journey to redefine meat consumption in the Netherlands. What started as three friends selling meat from their hunts directly from their fridge, quickly evolved into a successful webshop. Now, De Predetariër has a physical store, selling sandwiches with wild meats on fresh ciabattas, baked on location every day. 

The response to the menu has been overwhelmingly positive, Kaj explains. “Everyone has been really enthusiastic. You see customers take their first bite and hear them say, ‘Oh, that’s good’.” Their most popular sandwich, the ‘wilde pastrami’, is made from wild goose sourced from the Amsterdam area by partner Wild van Wild, another company dedicated to providing consumers with sustainable wild meat. Kaj’s own favourite sandwich is the deer rendang (slow-cooked spiced meat), which is braised in-house for hours to achieve that melt-in-your-mouth texture. With a line that’s out the door when the sun shines, this minimally furnished takeaway joint is a must for sandwich enthusiasts. 

De Predetariër | Gerard Doustraat 180, De Pijp

Day-to-night escapism at Tilla Tec

Amsterdam’s techno scene let out a collective groan when cult-favourite club De School closed earlier this year, but its old space is set for reinvention as new owners launch Tilla Tec. Recently opened (12 April) by the team behind LGBTQ+ bar PAMELA – including creative director Samuel King and head programmer Lola Edo – Tilla Tec is a total departure from the bunker darkness of De School and an embrace into the light. 

“Tilla Tec will be about our community,” says Passion Dzenga, the marketing director for Tilla Tec, in an interview with Het Parool. “We want to provide space for minorities – especially the queer community and people of colour – because the team itself also belongs to those [communities].” That means ensuring there’s a platform for diverse talent beyond the music. Expect pop-ups, a restaurant, a queer gym, tattoo artists and studio spaces for artists to exhibit their works. It’s more of a dynamic space (which holds up to 900 people) than before, but an important way of making sure that Tilla Tec isn’t living in the shadows of De School. 

Part of that means the legendary basement won’t be in use; instead, Tilla Tec’s setup will focus on the indoor/outdoor flow. One clubgoer who went to the club’s opening weekend said this was one of the best things about the space. “The outdoor space was really chill and it felt as much like a place you could go to have a drink with a mixed, alternative crowd as well as dance,” says the 39-year old. With a weekly programming of music and the weather finally settling, this could well be De Baarsjes’s summer destination. 

Tilla Tec | Doctor Jan van Breemenstraat 1, Bos en Lommer & De Baarsjes

Tom Flanagan
Digital Editor at covering culture online and print for the City Guide Magazine.
Follow Tom