Many years ago, before Israeli dining made waves around the world, I had dinner in a small restaurant in Tel Aviv’s, Neve Tzedek district, The area was already starting to make waves as a home to artists; live jazz bars; al fresco cafe’s and a tangible cultural buzz.
My dinner that night was hugely memorable, not just for the food which was a phenomenal take on Middle Eastern flavours, but even more for the buzz which I will never forget. The atmosphere was electric, friends came and went, new friends were made, the vibe was cool, the people beautiful the staff amazing. I could have stayed all night. And almost did.
The area has since exploded and in 2012 a new restaurant called Night Kitchen opened there to great acclaim. Their ethos was deceptively simple:
Let us host you. At Night Kitchen.
we’d love to curate a dinner with drinks without you having to worry about ordering from the menu and risk missing out on something great. While you are free to enjoy your night out and quality time with your friends, we work our magic and take you on a culinary journey.
Once you’re comfortable with a drink in-hand, we’ll ask you a few simple questions – What flavours do you like? Do you have any dietary requirements or restrictions? Then, our team will begin to build your perfect night’s menu around your preferences.
Soon, course upon course of carefully-curated plates begin to arrive. Each plate is placed in the CENTRE of your table and introduced to you. Now, all is left to do is toast your neighbours and enjoy your night together.
The formula worked. Night Kitchen became a local sensation and in 2017 they opened in Berlin – similar formula, great success.
Four years on. A world somewhere between mid and post-covid, following the hardest period hospitality has ever known,
Night Kitchen has arrived in Amsterdam.
The tag line on their website is
Dinner with Friends. Wednesday-Saturday from 6pm until the last friend standing.
Its a great concept for a city like Amsterdam, and the location on the buzzing Jan Pieter Heijestraat is a perfect match.
I was delighted to be invited to check it out, so on a typical dark and gusty Amsterdam October evening, I arranged to meet my lovely sister in law there for a catch up.
The name Night Kitchen is hugely evocative and the interior lived up to the promise. Cool and cosy, low lighting and candles, intimate corners and sharing tables for friends. Best of all we were seated at the end of the bar for our meal which, according to our host, is her favourite spot – I couldn’t agree with her more. There is something about sitting side to side, rather than face to face that feels more intimate. Looking in the same direction, watching the same people, listening in to the bar chat and taking in the scene.
As per the invitation, we decided to hand over the menu choice to the experts. It was a wise decision.
We ate like queens. I love when restaurants push you confidently a little beyond your boundaries. Looking at the menu I expressed ambivalence about the celeriac option. But our waitress nudged me to try it, promising me that it was one of the standout dishes. And she was right. It was the first celeriac dish I’d order again. Thinly shaved, served with feta crumble, za’atar vinaigrette, coriander, chilli and pistachio.
The food came in waves. Standouts for us were the Sea Bass Sashimi (served intriguingly with burnt nectarines, okra, parsley oil, labneh, and mizuna) and the Roasted Lamb with tabbouleh salad, tzatziki, pomegranate and mint.
We were further spoiled with Gnudi, Octopus, Sea Bass and two fabulous desserts.
I kind of love that my pictures from the evening are a bit dark and blurry. It was that kind of place – no one was there to waste time snapping pictures of the lovely looking food – indeed the best indication of it being food to taste rather than just look at, was that we kept forgetting to take photos and dived in each time a new plate arrived.
Pictures at Night Kitchen more likely to feature friends laughing raucously, sharing good times. Those pictures you look back on that remind you of the night you laughed until your sides hurt.
So, much like my evening in Neve Tzedek all those years ago, it wasn’t just the food that would draw me back to Night Kitchen, but that very Dutch “gezelligheid”. The intimate vibe almost guarantees “good times with friends” just as they promise.
Head to Night Kitchen with someone you really like. Maybe some people you haven’t seen for a while, and settle in for the evening, leaving the staff to host you expertly whilst you catch up and put the world to rights.
We were guests of Night Kitchen Amsterdam but as ever we only write up places we truly rate and recommend.
Book a table here and then leave the rest to them, I’m confident they will work their magic for you too.