Honest. I’m a good girl. I would never use the work ‘fuck’ on social media. Imagine if I offended my followers, or worse, came across as overly enthusiastic. Just imagine.
Well, that happened yesterday, on Instagram. Or more precisely, after my lunch at the recently opened East57 — part restaurant, part wine bar, part café and part ‘make-you-salivate’ delicatessen. The establishment is housed in Casa400, a complex that serves as both hotel and student residence.
Perhaps I should start off by saying that we were originally planning on visiting another new restaurant, also in the Dutch capital. But alas. Upon arrival we encountered an almost ghostly joint. Dead and dismal with chefs that were slightly deaf and not really interested in intruders like us. Here’s a tip, Graceland Bar-B-Q (although granted, I should’ve probably called beforehand), don’t announce on your website that you’re open for lunch, when in fact, you’re not. Yet, anyway. Very uncool to have us drive to you, full of delicious anticipation (and hungry as hell) for nothing.
Not really complaining though. East57 was on my ‘to-try’ list, so it was just a matter of typing a new address into the navigation system and on y va! The drive through Amsterdam (which took us nearly 45 minutes thanks to traffic) would be quickly forgotten if the meal was good and the service pleasant.
We arrived at a spacious, bright location with high ceilings, nonchalantly set tables and attractive counters displaying crates of wine, stacked plates, bowls and cutting boards, and a little further on (on the delicatessen side) wooden vats of seasoned olives, oils, Dutch gourmet cheeses, breads, various charcuterie, fine chocolate and more. Products by respectable food companies such as Brandt & Levie, Vlaamsch Broodhuys, De Gouden Ton, and Tony’s Chocolonely, to name a few.
The menu included fashionable appetizers; soups; trendy salads (quinoa with fennel and roast vegetables; Peking duck with mushrooms, sesame, bean sprouts and goji berries; and sweet potato with olives, chorizo and caramelized onions, to give you an idea); sandwiches (pulled pork is their specialty); hearty mains such as sea bream with lemon, thyme and pearl barley; twelve different kinds of ‘bites’ to pair with your drinks; and five ‘platter’ dishes served on sturdy, wooden chopping boards. There was an equally interesting wine list, all from De Gouden Ton (a.k.a. “the best wine retailer in the Netherlands”), to satisfy the oenophiles among us.
Tempted by the variety of their enticing components, both of us decided on a platter. For hubby the meat and for me for the fish. While waiting we enjoyed a robust Malbec. Normally speaking, not exactly what I would order before a meal, but I needed something to warm me up (I get cold when I’m hungry).
Luckily, the platters arrived quickly, handsomely presented, and with a proper explanation of everything included. Even the wine and champagne were served with the same kind of courtesy and expertise as the food.
Hans had a platter with items such as a wedge of chunky pâté, pulled pork and black pudding (the only thing he wasn’t too thrilled about as he is simply not a fan of eating blood).
The seafood platter had a selection of classics and some of my personal favorites including perfectly grilled slices of tuna served on a bed of wakame, zesty and succulent giant prawns, a seared coquille in a shell lined with a sweet and sour cucumber salad, and an oyster which I bathed in shallots and red wine and gulped down with shamelessly primal pleasure.
My only complaint was a lack of a bowl of lemon water, or at least a wet cloth to clean my fingers. A must if you’re serving prawns, in my opinion.
After our traditional espresso, we walked around the establishment and chatted with some of the personnel. First we went to the wine bar, located on the top floor and serving nearly one hundred wines that can be paired with a variety of bites. Then the deli where we purchased the makings of an easy dinner (pâté, blue goat’s cheese, a loaf of bread and for dessert, a bar of licorice flavored chocolate). And finally the caffeine corner where you can also get your daily sugar in the form of cakes, pies, muffins and brownies.
Needless to say, I was so impressed with East57 that I used the ‘F’ word (in capital letters and after the word ‘holy’) in one of my Instagrammed photos. I should point out that the Palmer & Co Brut Réserve that accompanied my meal was equally worthy of using a profanity or two. Hats off to East57 for a kitchen and service that managed to bring out the sailor in me.