In the Scheepvaart Museum
In most places you drink in the sights but in Amsterdam you should plan to eat in them. If time is tight then instead of heading from museum to restaurant, dine at the museum. 'The restaurant at the Rijksmuseum currently has some of the best food in the city,' I was told recently by Felix Wilbrink, food columnist for De Telegraaf newspaper and one of the country's leading food writers.
In the last few years major museums including the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk and Van Gogh Museum have benefited from major renovations, and they have also taken the opportunity to update their eating options too. No longer are museum cafés and restaurants places to grab a quick bite, but many are now restaurants in their own right, aimed at attracting outside diners as well as museum visitors.
Here are six of the best eating options in Amsterdam's museums and other attractions:
Located in the museum's newly-refurbished Philips Wing, the RIJKS restaurant is attracting the city's diners by being open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner, until 11pm. Chef Joris Bijdendijk is not only serving his personal take on Dutch cuisine, using local ingredients as much as possible, he also invites guest chefs to prepare a menu to run alongside his own. The result is a delightful and exciting choice for diners, and a restaurant that gets talked about in the city. Definitely book ahead if you hope to eat dinner there.
Le Tambourin in the Van Gogh Museum
By contrast Le Tambourin at the Van Gogh Museum is limited to museum visitors, and while it has a conventional museum café menu - sandwiches, pastries, and several hot meal choices - the food is largely home-made and it does offer a nice view of the Museumplein. It's a light and airy space, named after one of the artist's favourite bars when he was living in Paris and which features in his work.
Not to be outdone by the Rijksmuseum, the Restaurant Stedelijk down the street at the modern art museum is open till midnight every day. It has an outdoor terrace and indoor seating with large windows to give a bright and spacious feel, and is also open to non-museum visitors. It has a good wine list with many available by the glass, and a menu that ranges from cheap snacks to oysters and steak béarnaise.
Dining in the Scheepvaart Museum
The Stalpaert restaurant at the Maritime Museum is bright, modern and relaxing, with huge windows providing lovely views out over the water. The food matches the feel - light and fresh, with soups of the day, a wonderful apple pie, and a choice of tasty salads and sandwiches, such as a dried smoked ham, tapenade and roasted peppers sandwich or a kipper salad with red beet, potato and horseradish. Like the museum, the restaurant is open daily 9am-5pm.
The Orangery in the Hortus Botanicus
The café at the Botanical Garden in the delightful Plantage district, slightly east of the city centre, has one great advantage. It's located in the Orangery, which was built in 1875 as a lecture hall and now makes for one of the best café locations in Amsterdam, whether you sit inside or out, surrounded by the garden's exotic plants. The menu is simple but uses all-organic ingredients, and there's a three-course fixed-price lunch option, which includes a glass of wine or other drink. The Orangery is open daily 10am-3pm.
The Plantage Restaurant at the Artis Zoo
The zoo has always had a choice of eating options in the grounds, which were aimed at families and safe but not very exciting. But these days the zoo is undergoing a major makeover under a new director, which resulted in it being named the best zoo in the Benelux countries in 2015. As part of this reinvigoration, an impressive new café-restaurant, De Plantage, is open to visitors and non-visitors alike. The décor is cool and modern, as is the menu (e.g. linguini with roasted octopus, clams, merguez, parsley and tomato), but the location is the eye-opener - it's a 19th-century conservatory, a listed historic building with numerous picture windows and opening out onto a terrace in summer. It's open daily till 1am, with the kitchen open till 10pm.
Mike Gerrard is an award-winning travel writer who has written widely about Amsterdam, including guidebooks for publishers such as Insight Guides, Thomas Cook and the AA. His own guide, Amsterdam and Beyond, is available from Amazon.
For more information on visiting Amsterdam see the Iamsterdam website.