Amsterdam is almost unique in hiding so many of its top restaurants within hotels. But exquisite canalside locations must be fully exploited, especially the loveliest of them, Prinsengracht, and are bound to inspire the kind of rarefied culinary experience Bluespoon delivers on the ground floor of the Andaz Amsterdam.
No reception desk stands between the entrance and diners,so the restaurant is reached by wandering into the hotel past a slightly alarming set of undersized doors to nowhere inspired by Alice in Wonderland – the hotel’s decor theme – towards the garden the restaurant overlooks.
Bluespoon is a curious name, suggesting a Chinese dining implement, possibly by way of Delft. That does appear on the logo, but it’s a somewhat stranger, iridescent blue spoon with which a signature seafood stew(undersold as seafood “soup” on the menu) is served. The official explanation is that pairing a fish with a spoon is a non-sequitur worthy of Lewis Carroll, connecting normally unconnected people and ideas in a way that may only happen in quirky, open-minded Amsterdam
Whatever the origin of the name, the menu is distinctly Dutch, all food being organic and locally-sourced. So the herringa in the utterly delicious tartare may well have been fished out of a nearby canal that morning; they tasted super-fresh, and were chopped with julienned gherkins, charred onions and creme fraiche and garnished with tobiko roe. Herring re-surfaced in the roe and pate garnishing another fabulous cold starter of beef tongue.
Accomplished among the mains was a roast chicken ballotine stuffed with a light mousse of the bird, spinach and morel foam, managing to be both light but unctuous. However, that seafood soup was sorely tempting, likewise a serious cote de boeuf for two. Vegetarians are catered for with some thought in dishes which include salt-baked beetroot with Jerusalem artichoke and a roast carrot “extravaganza” among the starters and cauliflower steak with garlic tofu puree and black rice featured in the mains.
Good choices from a wine list with plenty by the glass included a gruner veltliner, the suggested pairing with the herring and a perfect match – and a pinot noir llight enough to complement the chicken. Desserts include an oversized tarte tatin for sharing and that charmingly retro offering, crepes suzette, but a cheeseboard by Kef, Amsterdam’s greatest fromager, is never to be overlooked by those who can find the room.