fa. speijkervet.

Above: one of the few upsides of insomnia, winter sunrise.


Continuing in the vein of "Hey you're leaving town for a month let's have dinner", I finally got to go to "nose-to-tail" eatery Fa. Speijkervet last night, and yes of course I forgot my camera. And I forgot to bring carnivores.

Some would say that this means we didn't order to their strengths, which would ostensibly be meat, specifically pig, but a) I'm a firm believer that if you put something on your menu it should be good, and b) we were a mostly vegetarian party and ordering a something like a pig testicle milkshake (not actually on the menu) or whatever didn't feel right, plus if everyone orders vegetarian then everyone gets to share everything etc, unless one of your vegetarians goes rogue and orders meat but whatever I win either way ha.

We started with mussels, beet ravioli, and an artichoke, mushroom + blue cheese tart to share. All homey and comforting in the best way, well-executed, tasty, the mussels being the least wow-ish just because well they weren't anything really out of the ordinary. But they were still mussels, so, good.

Our next course involved some slightly confusing things with vegetables we'd never heard of, and that our server couldn't even explain to the Dutch member of our party, and the names of which at this moment I myself can't remember: I surprised myself by ordering an entree whose main ingredient was parsnip puree (not one of the unfamiliar vegetables); the rest of it included some kind of well-cooked red or possibly black cabbage, teeny tiny Brussels sprouts, and fontina beignets, which were lovely little tempura-esque blobs of fried cheese. It was pretty great, and it pretty much all disappeared.

Noops went rogue and ordered ongelet, hanger steak to you and me, which was perfectly cooked from a tenderness perspective, which ongelet has to be, ongelet ongelet ongelet, I can't stop saying it, but in the end I think I enjoyed my bites of it more than Noops did, probably because he's a sucka vegetarian and I'm an actual carnivore. The (yis) ongelet also came with a mystery vegetable described to us beforehand as "something like asparagus", but in reality it was scorzonera, black salsify, a very local vegetable which I'd never tasted before and we all decided was "something more like parsnip than asparagus". Pretty good I thought.

And then hmmm...HBF had griet, which is brill in English, like a turbot, subtle and pleasing, but it came with another one of these mystery vegetables, possibly rutabaga, soesterknollen, again a very local vegetable, and this was the only wrong note of the meal: as prepared, their aggressive wineyness (sp?) rendered them not so appropriate for accompanying such a delicate-tasting fish. It seemed easy to imagine more complementary options, like maybe roasting them with winter herbs would've made more sense but hey what do I know. The griet also came with a cup of Hollandaise sauce that no one could determine the purpose of, and when we mentioned this at the end of the meal, our waitress just kind of giggled and said "Yeah..." and took our plates away (this would be her only real slip into Amsterdam-style customer service, otherwise she was totally on the ball).

That said, I'd happily go back in two seconds. Here's an unorganized list of things I liked about it. The inside is surprisingly spacious and pretty, I guess "fancy-seeming", but in reality chilled out enough to where it doesn't feel as uptight or stuffy as it seems it might. Good sentence. The beer selection could've been a wee bit more interesting but there were one or two unboring choices (I drank La Chouffe Bok). Everyone there was very "friendly" and helpful, and again it feels like a nice place to linger, despite its kind of upscale look...the tables are, or at least our kind of isolated table was, far enough away from everyone else that you could easily hear each other's horribly off-color comments but other tables couldn't hear you. Important.

Maybe most importantly: the price/deliciousness/sophistication ratios of the food were pretty significantly above Amsterdam averages and this is hopefully indicative of the recent upward trend in our local restaurant cooking: it's getting easier and easier to find laid-back restaurants with affordable food that's almost as good as what you can cook at home.

Add to that the fact that there's a pleasant, welcoming bar down the street (also, like Speijkervet, very mustard-colored inside, but in a surprisingly OK way) with a beer selection that's highly out of character for this hood (beers from Brewdog, 7 deugden; Brouwerij 't IJ) and you have yourself a nice little evening in the exotic land of Jan Evertsenstraat.


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