There’s something endlessly romantic about European Grand Cafes. They hark back to days of intellectuals meeting for a coffee, venues serving good food well made, when cafes offered charming service and cosy corners perfect for discussing politics or romance.
De Ysbreeker is one of Amsterdam’s finest. A place for all seasons and all occasions. Built in 1702 – the date proudly stamped on the window, its named after the icebreaker ships that stopped along the Amstel river on their journey South. Much like its Viennese counterparts, prior to the war it was a hotspot for the artistic and political scene in the city as well as the home of billiards.
Sadly, like elsewhere in mittel-Europe, things changed dramatically during the war. The clientele had been overwhelmingly Jewish and cafes like De Ysbreeker emptied out rapidly as the city’s jews were systematically rounded up and deported during the occupation. Tragically 80% of the Jewish community perished during the war – the highest percentage of any European Jewish population. It was only about 70 years later when the vibrant cafe was brought back to its former glory that it returned to the all-day meeting place it has once again become.
These days its a wonderful spot throughout the year. Whilst it’s probably most famous for it’s gorgeous linden-tree-lined sunny terrace along the Amstel, those in the know still pedal-by in Winter and escape the icy chill, heading indoors for some serious gezelligheid. The billiards room with its fireplace and incredible carved ceiling is one of the city’s cosiest spots and the intimate dark booths hum with atmosphere.
Food-wise it plays to the crowd with top quality Dutch and International favourites. There’s colouring-in and high-chairs for kids, newspapers and magazines to occupy solo visitors and long tables for party-sized gatherings.
We love it here. The crowd can be quite International but you’ll be sure to find a good number of locals too kicking back and drinking up the atmosphere as well as the Amstel beer.