painting the town red.

Apparently many other people in Europe enjoyed the lunar eclipse last night. I myself did not, because during the fun part (pictured above), la luna became obscured by clouds.

Or maybe it went out for a glass of red. It seems that I'm not the only person in town who is wondering where the hell I can find a nice glass of red wine in a dark cozy environment. Free local rag nl20 has an article this month about wine bars in Amsterdam, saying that with the growing appreciation for wine in Holland and the proliferation of wine bars around town, Amsterdam is "finally beginning to act like an international city" (insert cynical dog poop joke here).

Maybe I shouldn't be skeptical. Maybe we haven't heard this before. Actually, we have. Back in 2002 or so, several similar articles popped up around the introduction of several winebars to the city's landscape. As far as I can tell, only one of those is still around, Boelen & Boelen. Back when those articles came out, I went by a couple of these places (whose names escape me at the moment), and...they just seemed soul-less and designed to attract the eye in a way I associate with flash-in-the-pan desperation. Understandably: opening a restaurant of any sort is a terribly risky proposition that usually fails expensively, at least that's what my dad told me when he talked me out of opening a restaurant back in the 90s.

So, back in the early days of the winebar rush, Boelen & Boelen seemed more physically approachable than the others, but mostly I just remember being knocked out by their high prices. Of course, now that Euro-inflation is an accepted fact and the U.S. dollar's implosion has made everything expensive for us expatriates, Boelen & Boelen's prices are looking downright average.

Bubbles & Wines, which is already on my list of places to check out, still looks interesting and not quite as self-congratulatory as some of the others. I think it helps that, in the photos I see of B & W, the people behind the bar seem to be friendly-faced, with welcoming, open smiles. I'm such a sucker for crafty marketing!

The other names mentioned in the article are:
  1. Vyne. Good name. Really cute website that doesn't play vapid smooth lounge-jazz beats when it starts up. Huge points for that. Unfortch, the photos on the website make the place look a bit like a museum shop. It's definitely not a relaxed, comfortable-looking bar, it looks like a place to go out and fetishize something. The IENS reviews are rather terrible and suggest that this place suffers from the now unsurprising Amsterdam problem of unqualified, disinterested, perhaps even rude waitstaff. O, it's laughable, up to a point, isn't it.

    I'm just about beyond that point...I've been really reluctant to reach this conclusion, but I think that this inability to really understand the concept of "customer service" might well say something significant about the culture here (across the Internet, a chorus of unpleasant, whiny voices cries out in unison, "oh, ya think???"). I definitely don't want the robotic Stepford Waiters or the fawning/bratty customer-is-always-right relationships of the U.S. to take root over here, but...fuck. Just try a little.

    Which reminds me: our friend Andy, who is not a needy person while dining, finally ate at this Dos place off the Marnixstraat (maybe an offshoot of Duende?), and said that while the food was good, there was a woman working there who was the most unpleasant person he's been served by in a long time. It would've been a total bust if he hadn't struck up a rapport with the chef, after which everything was smooth sailing and generally very good. So...there you go. Avoid the blonde woman at Dos. IENS reviews suggest that she's either new or a fill-in.

  2. Rosarium. Looks like a beautifully designed place, but the website is not too forthcoming about the food or drink options. The IENS reviews are uniformly excellent, which is unusual and more than likely indicative of something out of the ordinary, exactly what I'm not sure. A negative point: it's out in Oost Bumblefuck.

  3. Silex. It's not immediately obvious what this restaurant is doing in an article about winebars, based on their website menus. Their 2 red by-the-glass choices are uninspired, while the bottles are very heavily weighted towards French and Italian standards. The menu is very "European". Looks expensive and disappointing...but: the IENS reviews are very positive. Not that that means anything. Maybe worth seeing what the bar area is like. I need a scout. Or an intern.
So....more places to check out. Too bad I'm on the wagon for a few weeks as part of my new "month-on/oh shit: another month-on/thank god, finally a few weeks off" drinking regimen.

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