I’ve been hearing about BistrotNeuf lately as they have been on the “Recommended” list of Michelin inspectors for the last two years. The quality of their food deserves this praise but they need to work a bit more for a star. My instinct also tells me that the physical condition of the restaurant might be another reason why they may not get a star, but this is also a part of their charm. They have a pub in the front and an elegant restaurant at the back. In other words, they created a place for everyone. That’s the free spirit of the Netherlands!
My wife took me on a surprise trip for my birthday. We left the house to go to Antep (a city in the southeast of Turkey) but I found myself first in Paris, then in Amsterdam! On top of that, I also learned that she made a reservation at BistrotNeuf, a place I’ve been reading about for a long time, and I felt like a birthday boy indeed! I’m so glad that I married such a thoughtful, wonderful woman!
BistrotNeuf is five minutes from Amsterdam Train Station – a small, delightful place. From what I’ve read before, the most interesting feature of this place is that it has both luxurious and ordinary sections, and I found this to be true. In front of the room, there is a regular pub where young people hangs out, whereas a chic restaurant and high-quality service awaits you at the back room.
They Have a Rich Menu
Their menu can be called rich for a bistro. Their wine selection, in particular, surprised me. You can find good examples of wine from all around the world, not only Europe. Please note that French wine is really expensive in Europe, especially Bordeaux. Here, you can find Bourgogne wines that have a good balance of quality and price. These wines are made of Pinot Noir grapes and since they aren’t very well known, they are cheaper than other wines, whereas even when you open a not-so-great Bordeaux bottle, you need to be ready to pay more than what it deserves (with a few exceptions, of course).
Excellent Steak Tartare!
My wife and I tried steak tartare, cote du boeuf (rib steak), and crème caramel from the menu. The special that I loved the most was the steak tartare. Normally I avoid having this dish (because I don’t like the minced meat form of this food) but our server insisted on us trying it, and I’m glad we did. The steak tartare of BistrotNeuf is prepared with almost 10 ingredients. Some of which are: the meat, tabasco, onions, gherkin, mustard, parsley, sea salt, and a few other ingredients they keep secret. But it’s really hard to catch those flavors since all the other ingredients, especially mustard and tabasco, keeps your palate busy.
The best thing about this tartare was that instead of using standard machines to mince the meat, they make it by chopping the meat with knives for a long time. Thus, the meat keeps its juice and character, and integrates the ingredients better. The quality of the meat was also really good. Though it wasn’t cooked, it didn’t cause any digestive problems. And while eating, the texture felt as soft as cooked meat. On top of the tartare, there was a quail egg, which has a stronger taste than normal eggs. This was one of the rare occasions where I had steak tartare in Europe and I truly enjoyed every bit of it. It was an incredible experience.
Their Rib Steak Needs to Level Up
We order rib steak for two for the main course and they serve it with bones and fat just as it was in Madrid. The meat quality of the Netherlands is better than that of Turkey. It’s a country where farming is important and animals are well taken care of. Whenever I had a meat dish, the freshness and the flavor of the meat fascinated me, unlike the synthetic-tasting meat we often eat these days.
This dish was served with béarnaise sauce, which is a well-known sauce from the French cuisine. Lemon in this sauce brings acidity to the meat whereas tarragon improves the taste with a different flavor. The most important part of this sauce is the egg yolk in it. A lot of cooks and chefs over-cook this sauce and make it lose its taste but BistrotNeuf’s chef knows what he is doing. They served the meat with a successful sauce.
The quality of the meat and the sauce were all very good but the problem was that the meat was a bit too raw. My friends know me; I like my meat rare, but this particular dish tires one’s mouth since the meat itself was a bit tough. So it might be a good idea to ask them to cook it a bit more when you have this dish (only for this restaurant). If the meat was a bit more tender, it could have been a stunning experience with that wonderful sauce.
This Isn’t Crème Caramel!
We ordered the famous French dessert, Crème Caramel, for the last course of the meal. They brought us a vanilla-scented dessert with a beautiful color. But it isn’t even remotely close to crème caramel I’ve been eating for many years. This looks more like a yellow panna cotta. Crème caramel needs to have a softer consistency but this was thicker, with a dominant vanilla flavor. It was pretty delicious, as long as you don’t eat it as crème caramel!
The dishes I had here made me think of bistro food that is modified by the touch of fine-dining. I think they have a long way to a Michelin star. They need to add at least a few creative items to their menu, but their wine cellar and the quality of the service were already at a Michelin level. That being said, I don’t think a Michelin star is a necessity for this restaurant. While we were leaving, some of the workers there were drinking beer at the pub and cooking a meat and onion soup in a big pot. We were told that on Saturdays they continue to have fun among themselves after the closing hour. They locked the door after us, turned the music up, and started dancing. That is Amsterdam for you, the city of freedom!
We paid 12.5 euros for the steak tartare, 55 euros for the rib steak for two, and 12 euros for the dessert. Wine was 35 euros (which is quite reasonable for its quality). All in all, we paid 115 euros for two, which is a bit too expensive for a bistro. I don’t know what will happen to these prices if they do get a Michelin star at the end.
Address: Haarlemmerstraat 9, 1013 EH Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Telephone: +31 20 400 3210