Amsterdam: Pancakes! Amsterdam | Berenstraat

This is really strictly just pancakes.

I was in Holland, and I was determined to eat something Dutch. Before I left Singapore, I had already nailed down a list of places to go. Now, Dutch cuisine isn’t rich in variety nor is it a big thing even in the Netherlands. Whatever that’s popular came from the years of constant contact during the age of imperialism, like Surinamese and Indonesian. Beyond that, the choices were limited, so limited in fact, that it was down to a handful of spots in Amsterdam – most of which, were outside the city. There were three in the city: one, as my search last evening concluded, didn’t seem to be there anymore; the other two, pancake shops. En route to Leidseplein yesterday, I actually passed by and intended to visit, but it closes just before dinner.

Strategically located between the Hermitage Museum and Rembrandt House, and the Van Gogh Museum, Pancakes! Amsterdam became a natural rest stop, and a spot for lunch. When I reached Pancakes! Amsterdam, I was met with a snaking long queue. “Jackpot”, I thought. Overseas, I’ve learned that queues don’t develop outside a restaurant unless it’s really good, so I was really glad, despite needing to wait 45 minutes despite being third in line (when I joined it). Behind me was an amiable American family on vacation, brought to this spot by their Dutch host who reportedly “looked this place up on the internet”. 45 minutes is a long time, and with virtually nothing to do – the tourists had no 3G access, and besides, holding out your cellphone isn’t the wisest thing to do. So, verbal comments are politely agreed on, and soon, it’s a conversation. I find out from their Dutch host that the Dutch eat at home all the time (just simple fare like grilled fish drizzled with Bearnaise sauce, and steamed vegetables), and only go out to eat if they want to have something foreign. Maybe the quirky dressed lady had seen it all and is weary of her homeland as all locals feel after a while, but she painted a picture of a really dull nation. I was a little disappointed because the Netherlands, with its liberal attitudes and an exciting nightlife (at least that’s what I had read about back home) was a place I considered making a home in.

Pancakes! Amsterdam is a neat, homely little shack. It being Dutch, the furniture is naturally glazed in delftware, the iconic blue and white pottery. Contrasted with the delftware-topped tables, the interior is otherwise inviting, looking like a cross between a contemporary Nordic design, and the warmth of an Italian casa. The staff are friendly and always eager to serve – think of the image as a helpful older, albeit attractive sibling who’s popular with the Brady bunch and the indie kids.

The menu solely consisting of pancakes is unevenly split between the sweet, the savory, and the in-between, with the statistics skewed in favor of the latter. I however, head straight for the “Dutch pancakes” (typical) which are in fact, sweet but more or less plain pancakes which you can optionally add more sweet bits like roasted pear, or if you prefer, savory stuff like smoked salmon. I go for a completely sweet route, opting for Macadamia Nuts and Roasted Pear with Chocolate Sauce. Typically of Europe, water’s not served nor free or cheap, so I settle with an “organic Dutch produced Apple Juice”.

The pancake, when it comes to me, comes as a bit of a surprise. Unlike the American style ones, this looked absolutely pock faced with a consistency of a cross between a crepe, and a pancake. There was certainly a savory tinge to it, but no matter, I’ve got my handy chocolate sauce, and a host of sauces by the table ranging from honey and maple syrup, to more chocolate sauce, icing sugar and cinnamon sugar. I gotta admit, I didn’t like it at first, but you quickly got used to the consistency and difference, and just started enjoying the dish.

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