For an amazing steak (and I consider myself a bit of an expert) in a wonderful setting, you simply have to try Loetje. It’s hard to recall an occasion on any of our frequent visits to Amsterdam over the last few years when we haven’t eaten here and as you can tell from our blog, that’s not for lack of choice!
There are now five branches in Amsterdam and another on the Amstel river at Ouderkerk which is no more than 20 minutes from town in an Uber and absolutely worth the trip for the gorgeous riverside village location which looks like something out of a Dutch painting (see picture above!). On a warm Summer evening sitting on the riverside terrace here is idyllic.
But make no mistake, Loetje is definitely no chain. Each branch has its own unique atmosphere – at the large and modern Loetje on the Ij guests regularly pull up at jetties by the terrace in their boats, if you want the ultimate “gezellig” experience make your way to the original Cafe Loetje in the Museum Quarter – to be clear this is not Loetje Centraal which is by Central Station and a lot less charming. Cafe Loetje is an Amsterdam institution – cosy, dark, authentic and intimate and despite tough competition, probably our favourite branch. After years of a no-bookings policy they have now conceded and you can book a table which is highly advisable as you’ll almost certainly have to wait at least half an hour if not substantially more even on a Monday night. That said, if you haven’t booked, give it a shot anyway – it’s the perfect place for putting the world to rights whilst sitting at the bar with a drink and some borrelhapjes people-watching and waiting for a table.
If you can’t get a spot and don’t want to head out of town, you could try Loetje Oost instead although the atmosphere isn’t the same. Most branches have seating inside and out and an awesome atmosphere best described as somewhere between buzzy, friendly, unpretentious and very Dutch and untouristy. Food-wise, there’s only one cut of steak on offer – biefstuuk ossenhaas – a kind of rare beef fillet which comes with a very delicate burnt-butter sauce/gravy. Order it and you you will be certain to start dreaming about your next visit, though others swear the “Bali” steak with spicy Indonesian sambal is the only thing to choose.
For sides there are melt in the mouth chips (with mayonnaise obviously!), sweet caramelised grilled onions, decent salads and naughtiest but yummiest of all, sliced white bread to mop up the amazing buttery gravy. Venture beyond steak and you could still be on to a winner. Our parents rave about the calves liver and have been known to come two nights in a row to get their fix and there are fish and vegetarian options too. Indescribably good and in Ouderkerk, a magical location. The website doesn’t even remotely do it justice – do not base your decision on it and PLEASE do us a favour and give the awful “Argentinian” steak houses like Cau and Gaucho around Dam Square a miss – they are not a fraction as good as this.