Travel: A Hidden Gem in Amsterdam – Restaurant Gebr. Hartering

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I just came back from a two-week Europe trip with my boyfriend—it was one of the longer vacations we had this year, as we don’t get to take two-weeks off together very often. For the past few years, we chartered a sailboat to sail around the islands in the Mediterranean area and lived the salty marina life – it’s a nice change from the urban city life. This year, since we happened to have some meetings in London and Germany, we decided to make a road trip out of it and tour around different cities in Europe.

I, as usual, did my research on some of the cities that we were going, as for the rest of the cities, I thought we’d just figure things out as we go… it’s always nice to talk to the locals and try out some of the hidden gems in town.

When we made our way to Amsterdam, it was already late in the evening. By the time we checked in our hotel and got settled, we didn’t have much time left to look around our restaurant options before most of the places closed down. The hotel recommended a small local place for authentic Dutch cuisine; unfortunately the kitchen wouldn’t accept more guests when we got to the restaurant. Standing on the corner of the street, we were left with pretty much nothing besides this other restaurant a block away from us by the canal.

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The restaurant looked full in the romantically dimmed lights, a couple big parties chattering over the flickering candles between the dishes, and several two-top tables with young couples exchanging whispers as they take the occasional sips of wine. The atmosphere was cozy yet vibrant, and maybe just a touch too high-end for exhausting travelers like us. I was famished and I just wanted to reward myself with a nice meal after a long day, so I went ahead and asked if the kitchen was still open for one more table…. Luckily they said yes!

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We sat at a small table right off the counter, which gave me the perfect view of everything that was happening in the open kitchen. The server instantly came over and served us freshly cut warm baguettes and olives as he explain the menu to us. With a big chalk board in his arm, he explained that they have two sets of pre-fixe menu for us to choose from – if we’re very hungry, we can have the 7-course dinner with one meaty main entrée and a fish dish along with the five other dishes and desserts. Or we can opt for the 4-course “lighter” menu with a simplified selection. Both menus looks incredibly appetizing, but we were tired and couldn’t figure out how much food we really want, so the server suggested that we let the chef customize a menu just for us… so we don’t have to settle with the pre-fixe menu options. How can we turn down that offer? We told the chef to surprise us.

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We started our dinner with a plate of chef-selected charcuteries and seasonal oysters. I have never met a cured meat I didn’t like, though I still have my high expectations when it comes to charcuteries. Hearty and full of flavors, the meat selection was definitely beyond my usual standard. The oysters didn’t disappoint either, fresh and salty as if they were just picked from the ocean before they were served.

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Now they set the bar high with the appetizers, I was so excited to see the entrée. The chef prepared two entrée for us to share. The first one was a light fish dish that was pan-fried to perfection – crispy on the skin yet tender on the inside. It was served over sautéed mushrooms and a creamy root vegetable puree — the combination of the mixed textures in the whole dish was beautifully layered, and the flavors of the fish was simple yet delicate.

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The second dish was rib steak that was chargrilled with smoked rosemary and rock salt, it was served with a side of roasted bone marrow. The steak was medium rare with the center bright in pink and full of tenderness and jus; the rock salt brings the flavors forward and brightened up the rosemary aroma and the smokiness from the charcoal. The bone marrow was just as good, if not better, with the flavors bursting on the taste buds as each bite melts in the mouth.

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Chef Danny Verbraak and our lovely servers!

We had Crème Brûlee for dessert, because Crème Brulee is always a good choice. We also ordered a couple of digestives to bring the perfect meal to the end as we chatted with the chef and our amazing servers. Little did we know, we had tumbled into one of the best restaurants in Amsterdam. Restaurant Gebr. Hartering (Dutch for The Brothers Hartering) is a hospitable and cozy neighborhood restaurant located on beautiful Rapenburg. Inspired by the “table d’hôte” (or potluck, as we call it) concept, the restaurant offers a unique dining experience with daily menu made with fresh-picked seasonal produce. For those who are not willing to settled with the daily menu, there is a small selection of dishes à la carte. The chef is also more than happy to create something special to meet your liking, just like how he created something for us that was truly unforgettable.

I consider myself pretty lucky, we tumbled into this restaurant without knowing anything, and it ended up being one of the best meals we had during our Europe trip. If you find yourself in Amsterdam looking for a good restaurant, make a reservation here for dinner– it will bring your dinning experience to a new level.

Restaurant Gebr. Hartering:

Address: Peperstraat 10hs, Amsterdam
Neighborhood: centre
Website: gebrhartering.nl

Xo,

Alicia