Linschotenstraat, Amsterdam, January 11, 2013—
AN INTERESTING WALK down Harlemmerstraat this afternoon, intent on lunch at a bakery Kees likes, only to find it closed for vacation. You take your chances in January. So we dropped into the Bistro Neuf nearby, thinking of onion soup.
Alas, the soup on the three-language menu was Bouillabaisse, translated into both Dutch and English as fish soup in the Marseille style. Now I dearly love Provençal fish soup, with its rouille, Gruyere, and aïoli, but I'm wary of Bouillabaisse: too often it's shrimped up with lobster or crab, which I cannot eat. So I forbear, settling for a croque-monsieur.
I was right: Cynthia's Bouillabaisse smelled of lobster and included mussels and shrimp. My croque-monsieur was too buttery, I thought, and everything on my plate seemed a little sandy — a fault I'd noticed in the complimentary bigoudins, periwinkles we dug out of their shells with pins, reminding me of a long-ago meal off the Breton coast. Maybe their sand had stayed with me: Lindsey'd abstained from them, and found nothing wrong with her shrimp croquettes in cream sauce.
Cotes de Rhone, La Ferme du Mont, 2010
Bistrot Neuf, Haarlemmerstraat 9, Amsterdam; 020 400 32 10
RIJSEL IS THE FLEMISH name for the northern France city the French (and most of the rest of us) call Lille, today — from what I've heard — an up-to-date University center with a thriving hip energy, perhaps something like the Montpellier of the north, but in the past a grungy industrial-and-agriculture center.
That's the city Rijsel. The restaurant Rijsel is a high-energy brasserie, not expensive though offering a fine if small list of wines, in rather a Gorkylike worker's-cafeteria setting, where we sit at long tables shared with others, under the high ceilings and within the plain decor of a former public school.
Here You get a three-course dinner for €31.50, with three choices for each course. I had a poached egg (very beatifully poached, by the way) with watercress and mayonnaise; onglet in Bordelaise sauce; and — well, I drank my dessert.
This is one of my favorite spots now, certainly one of the Hundred Restaurants. Of course I may be slightly swayed by the delicious sequence of wines we had, starting with a complimentary glass of Champagne (Ch. de Passavant, bio) and ending with a decent Armagnac. Along the way,
Arbois, Melon le Rouge-Queue, 2008: beautiful color and body, fine aroma and deep flavor); Pommard, Clos des Epenaux, Comte Armind, 2007 (rich, reserved, fine)
•Rijsel Rotisserie, Marcusstraat 52, Amsterdam; 020-4632 142; closed Sunday