Back in 2010 Wilde Zwijnen opened its doors and quickly secured a reputation for being one of the least pretentious but hottest foodie destinations in the city. The name means “wild boar” but this cosy, rustic restaurant serving Dutch inspired seasonal food also caters to those who are more interested in fish or veg. The 3 or 4 course tasting menu which varies with the seasons inspired many of the city’s more recent culinary gems, and its locally sourced and highly rated food combined with its location in the hip eastern Javaplein has helped it to consolidate its position right at the top of the foodie charts ever since.
Hoping for a table for date-night or a chilled evening with friends? Booking is essential. One of the best things about it is that you’re pretty unlikely to be rubbing shoulders with other tourists. This is a place where the clientele speak Dutch – a real Amsterdam food-lovers’ spot for those very much in the know.
Following their success, they then opened an “Eetbar” next door best described as Wilde Zwijnen’s younger brother and now known as Bar Bachrach. Serving up tapas-style small plates inspired by French and Spanish cuisine, 5 days a week (its closed Sundays and Mondays) has, if anything, further enhanced Wilde Zwijnen’s reputation and it means securing a seat is usually only available to forward-planners. I’m not the biggest fan of Amsterdam’s endless tasting menus (I tend to know what I want to eat and prefer not to have surprises) so it was the Eetbar we headed to on our most recent trip to the city.
As with so many of Amsterdam’s best hotspots, a warm evening meant that tables had been moved to the terrace. Reservation names are chalked on table tops, and the place was packed.
The food was indescribably good. A seriously memorable meal. It was tempting to order everything off the small chalked menu although we resisted and selected a handful of favourite plates.
How do you begin to pick a standout winner? The octopus and chorizo was wonderful. The North Sea fish and charcoal piglet sublime. Even the dips and mayonnaise’s; the homemade crisps with whipped aioli brought to the table with the chilled glass of cava; the croquets and, astonishingly, the frikandel (something we would usually avoid at all costs) – everything was quite simply perfectly executed. At a push, if I really had to pick a favourite, I’d have to say the cod chips – delicately light crispy fried ribbons of cod skin served with brandade (saltcod emulsified with olive oil). I’m rhapsodising, but it was exceptional.
This is my insiders’ tip for a stunning evening out. As I’ve said, we have always avoided Amsterdam’s numerous 3, 5 or 7 course fixed menus. We are picky and like to choose what we order, but next time I’m in the city I’m going to make an exception and eat at Wilde Zwijnen because I can’t imagine them serving anything I wouldn’t like.
Go to Wilde Zwijnen or the lovely Eetbar. Avoid the tourists. This is what Amsterdam dining is really about.