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Amsterdam's dining scene was for a long time dominated by French and Italian cuisine. In recent years, however, chefs have rediscovered their own backyard, sourcing local ingredients and reinterpreting traditional recipes.
In Restaurant Greetje, for instance, you'll find Dutch ingredients appearing in unexpected places: pollock is poached in buttermilk, mustard becomes a crust for chicken, and licorice delicately flavors ice cream.
Location and ambience are inching up the list of priorities too. While these are no guarantee of good food of course, De Kas (situated in a greenhouse), Pont 13 (on a boat) and Open (occupying a section of railway bridge) have successfully combined all three.
As in other countries, an interest in small producers and seasonal foods is reflected in the growing number of farmers' markets. The two largest are held on Noordermarkt and Nieuwmarkt every Saturday. One Sunday a month, professional and amateur chefs showcase prepared foods—from Spanish pintxos to Chinese dumplings—at NeighbourFood Market in Westerpark.
Pop-ups are popping up everywhere. Transient and temporary by nature, they are energizing Amsterdam's dining scene and broadening diners' gastronomic horizons. Look out for My Table and Salotto Rosso, both of which use Facebook to advertise upcoming events.
LoveFood, which started out as a brunch pop-up, was so successful that the initiator quit his day job in marketing and opened a permanent restaurant. You can still order brunch at weekends (reservations are essential), but the menu has been expanded to include dinner and cocktails.
Amsterdam still lags behind other European capitals in culinary inventiveness and choice, but it is catching up fast. The dining scene is in flux, which makes it an exciting time to catch it.