Dining in Amsterdam is rarely a spontaneous exercise. There might be an abundance of restaurants to choose from any night of the week, but your ability to get seated in one… a satisfying one… is limited because there’s also an abundance of people who want to use them. If you tend to wing it like we do, it usually means you develop a tolerance for disappointment and settling for second when your first choice is a full house. If you’re not like us and find that time is too precious for shopping around, then chances are you’ve co-ordinated your diary with your friends and booked ahead already. Kudos.
But if there’s one thing that unites chancers and the risk-averse, it’s their list of tried and tested places that guarantee good food in either circumstance. So we’re pleased to announce a new insider secret for the list, which should keep everyone happy. It’s called The Pool, and you’re welcome.
The Pool is a restaurant concept attached to The Student Hotel chain which is undergoing a huge revamp and expansion throughout the Netherlands and Europe. The branch we’re referring to today opened in spring opposite the Volkshotel on Wibautstraat. It’s the flagship for the reinvigorated brand and offers a laid-back and democratic hotel and dining experience.
The ethos of the chain is aimed at offering students and travellers a welcoming environment to sleep, socialise, work and eat – be it for a night, a week or a couple months. The interior design of the hotel and restaurant is unapologetically youth-orientated, and offers a ‘come one, come all’ ambience. Democratic is an unusual description for a hotel or restaurant, but we think it’s a smart way to summarise it.
Since it’s opening early in 2016, we’ve visited The Pool a couple of times and it’s strengths didn’t take long to materialise.
Firstly, the food is good. The dishes offer tasty and varied pan-mediterranean flavours that cater equally well for meat-lovers, seafood fans and vegetarians alike. The food is designed to be shared but most main plates are big enough to eat solo if you’re only peckish, or combined with a second if you really feel the hunger.
Secondly, The Pool is pretty huge. The hotel sits on an expanded footprint of the old Trouw building, so the restaurant can swallow a huge number of diners with relative ease. Of course you can book a table for two or a group of 12, but the restaurant is prepared for – and actively encourages – walk-ins.
Not long after opening, we caught up with the man behind the restaurant concept for The Student Hotel. Like Team Kompas, Bunmi is an import from the UK and sees the same areas for improvement when it comes to the food scene in Amsterdam (and wider). For starters, he understands that there’s often a lack of choice and imagination for people who need or just want the vegetarian plates.
Everything on a menu should taste great and be desirable, regardless of its meat content. On top of that, he’s working hard to put the right staff in the right places and train them well, so the customer gets friendly, attentive and consistent service each time they visit. Music to our ears.
Like its decor, the atmosphere in the restaurant is fun without being raucous. It’s informal and friendly, and offers an ideal location for catching up with a couple of close friends or grabbing a bite with your team when you’re trying to chat about anything but work. It’s the kind of place you only mean to spend an hour in, but lose your evening to.
So feel free to plan ahead… book your table and arrive an appropriate amount of time in advance, but we say life’s too short for online booking forms and phone calls. Turn up when you fancy and use those extra five minutes to entertain your friends while you split the brochetta de octopus and a carafe of wine.
Keep it your back pocket and The Pool will serve you well on many different occasions. You can thank us later. In the meantime, here’s to more spontaneity.
|Specialities||Pan-Mediterranean food that’s much better than it ought to be|
|Booking||If you want, but we dare you to walk in|
|Groups||Definitely. The more the merrier|