Word on the straat is that Dutch food is on the up.
Outside Amsterdam's tired tourist thoroughfares like Haarlemmerstraat and Nieuwendijk with their over-supply of red-neon lit Argentinian steak houses, kebab shops and faux pubs, the Dutch, ever an enterprising bunch, are hard at work riding the resurgent wave of inspired western European cuisine.
Just north of Anne Frank's Haus you'll find modern Dutch brasserie Envy. It’s the jewel in the crown of Bert van der Leden’s IQ Creative group of restaurants and it has recently been gonged with a Michelin “Bib Gourmand” for a ninth consecutive year.
Envy the name implies sinful delights but initial impressions suggest a restaurant oozing plenty of another deadly sin – pride and self-love.
The narrow and understated glass entry with the kitchen up front opens into a long, narrow dining area. Inset tables line the left side of the venue while a single long, elevated wooden bar dominates the right side under spherical, low-hung steel lights.
Despite the mix of bright glass, steel and dark woods the feel is warm and inviting. Diners lean forward in intimate conversations accented by soft yellow light. The smells of grilled seafood and garlic fill the entryway.
The menu offers smallish-shared plates with a focus on seafood, which is nice to see considering Amsterdam's historically close ties to Dutch seafaring. To fully appreciate the variety available it's best to bring a few friends.
Head chef, Michael Wolf has just taken over, so there's some changeover and variation on the menu as a new vision replaces the old.
To start there's safe staples like deli meats, foie gras and steak tartar however it's the seafood dishes that impress.
A Carpaccio of roasted scallops with cream of peas and daikon pops with hints of citrus from the inclusion of a smooth lime jelly. The crunchiness of the daikon saves the dish from being gelatinous.
The fillet of plaice with antiboise, tomato foam and olive cream sits delicately in a blue ceramic bowl. The layering is expertly done, the antiboise and olive cream combine to provide a subtle earthiness while the tomato foam counters with bubbling zest and freshness. The combination conspires to place the subtle white flesh firmly in the centre of each bite.
Away from the seafood, the Garden of Eden dessert with aloë vera, eucalyptus, yogurt and elderflower impresses. The texture of frozen yogurt hemispheres with elderflower jelly, the cough drop hit of the eucalyptus praline and hints of kiwifruit jump about on the palate making it a refreshing and fun dish.
Apart from these highlights, Envy doesn’t really sing.
To live up to its name, Envy should let its focus on seafood and interesting flavour combinations flourish and do away with stock standard Euro fare. With a newish chef at the helm perhaps the venue will give the competition something to be truly envious of.
1016 HL Amsterdam
+31 20 344 64 07