There are certain pastimes in which all us Amsterdammers indulge, and no I’m not talking about that!
One of the most skills you need if you live here or are visiting and don’t want to stick out a mile as being a tourist, is how to pick a good ‘terrasje’ and how to behave when you have your spot.
First of all, what is a ‘terrasje’? Well, it’s that area outside a restaurant, bar or café with seating – a pavement café or my favourite Scottish word, a ‘sitooterie’.
The first variable which will effect your choice of terrasje is the weather. If it’s a bit chilly, you’ll want to be closer to the building, and of course you’ll be looking for nice big burning heaters. Some of you may wish to go for the terrasje that provides blankets, but that’s not my stlyle, I don’t want to share a blanket with a stranger – well, not any more.
Then, there’s all sorts of things you might want to consider, location, atmosphere, service and of course top of my list is coffee, food and drinks. And, for me I want a terrassje with some authenticity. Don’t get me wrong, I love my clients and tourists, but sometimes I want to feel like Amsterdam belongs to me (somebody wrote a song about Glasgow belonging … sorry, I digress). You know, somewhere that I can flop in my chair, order a drink (in Dutch) and a good ‘borrelhapje’ (traditional Dutch snacks to go with drinks – it’s a huge thing here). I don’t want to be served by someone who doesn’t speak Dutch, I don’t want to be presented with a list of snacks that include ‘nachos’ or some such other awful generic import. I live in Amsterdam, I chose to be here, I chose this culture, so, I want to enjoy it.
Once you’ve decided what you want from your ‘terrasje’, you’ll be wanting to get a good seat, pole position if you will. This might not be readily available, but that’s ok, the Dutch love to rearrange the furniture, so feel free to shift your chair out of the wind and into the sun. Then you sit, if you are a regular, you won’t even need the menu. When the waiter drifts by order your coffee, mint tea (a real Amsterdammer loves this) or ‘fluitje’ (smallest beer) or ‘vaasje’ (the next size up, almost a half pint). We’ll all know you’re an out of towner if you order a ‘big beer’. Then you need to decide what to eat – the classic is of course the ‘bitterballen’. Deep fried ragout balls that everybody (I mean everybody) loves. Or you can go with ‘ossesnworst’ – raw lightly spiced beef which you dip in Dutch mustard. Or even play safe with some aged Dutch cheese. And now, relax, enjoy the view, watch the people. Take your time, there is no rush now, enjoy your snacks, drinks and of course the company.
Right on the water’s edge, sophisticated and sophisticated.
If you want something a bit more upmarket.
At the edge of the canal – get chatting with the locals.
Warm and friendly – a great summer spot, but can get busy. During the day is best. See my blog post for more information.
Crème de la crème of terassjes. Local, quiet, good atmosphere.
A little gem at the back of the Hermitage museum. See my blog post for more information.
Great views of the Amstel and the bridge from which it gets its name.
Friendly, local, and a bit of local history too. See my blog post for more information.
Beautiful converted old farmhouse. See my blog post for more information.
Amsterdam Private Food Tours
If this has made you hungry for more, why not book one of my Private Amsterdam Food Tours? Just you and your own party with some of the very best food the city has to offer.