Back in 2013, Team Kompas came to Amsterdam to do a spot of freelance work. We commuted from the far west to the south-east every day. It would take about an hour to make the trip, and whilst that’s nothing exceptional if you’re based in a big city like London or Paris, it’s a relative expedition for locals of the big village that is Amsterdam, who hop on their bikes and go door to door in 25 minutes or less.
When our temporary co-workers would enquire about where we were staying, many an eyebrow would raise in shock at the kind of distances we were covering each day. Now we’re fully-fledged residents we see their point. The passing of time has realigned our perception of distance and indeed, 60 minutes to get anywhere now seems almost inhumane.
But it had its advantages. For instance, while we were trekking from one corner of the city to another, we were using the number 12 tram to wiggle our way through some interesting areas of the city. It gave us the opportunity to soak up some details and get orientated. Some obviously memorable things spring to mind, like passing the striking Stedelijk Museum with its bathtub canopy, for the first time.
Meanwhile, some landmarks are slightly stranger tidbits to recall, such as the shoe shop with the terrible kerning on its sign. But once seen, it just couldn’t be ignored. Team Kompas’ new HQ is actually equidistant from the museum and the shoe shop, so I can confirm that the shoe shop and its signage are still present.
The third kind of landmark memory we have from that visit is the one that just catches the eye in amongst the wonderful and the weird. These are places like The Seafood Bar which when looking back, are maybe a point of reference to something familiar-looking and desirable in an unfamiliar place. They’re a bit of a sweet spot between the extremes.
It’s marble tabletops, industrial lighting and gleaming white subway tiles were so inviting – even from the tram window 10 meters away – that we really craved the opportunity to eat there before flying back to london. We did get the opportunity to eat there but amazingly, it took close to two years to get around to it. And to this date we’ve still not actually sat down at the Van Baerlestraat restaurant we would pass whilst sat on that tram.
We have, however, enjoyed several delicious dinners at the brand’s second restaurant on Spui and at its newest ‘fast food’ concept The Seafood Market in de Pijp. The latter offers a more casual experience, accommodating walk-ins but not encouraging you to necessarily stick around.
The idea is to take a seat at the high tables, order at the bar and then pop off to whatever engagement you have next. It still has the marble tables, subway tiles and industrial lighting, but it’s designed to be an elegant way to eat high-quality, quickly. It’s a welcome concept (especially as it’s also in our neighbourhood!) and it works.
The other two branches are traditional restaurants. Book a table (really you must, walk-ins are almost impossible to win thanks to TSB’s reputation) and enjoy an elegant evening in classy, bustling surroundings. The waiters buzz about in crisp white aprons and the food is prepared freshly by chefs in the open kitchen pass. The produce itself is laid out before you as you walk the length of the restaurant on the way to your table and en route you can admire the abundance of lobster, oysters and king crab, arranged for maximum visual impact on chipped ice atop even more white marble.
Needless to say, the menu is geared up to seafood lovers but there’s a ton of choice regardless of how adventurous your fishy tastes may be. If you’re seeking opulence, choose a fruit de mer, or stick with a traditional fish and chips if it’s comfort food you crave. If its the sweet spot between the extremes you seek, then something from the griddle section of the menu will probably be for you.
So it might have taken a long time to get to The Seafood Bar, but the combination of good food and chic character has made it a great destination to toast some special moments with friends. A baby, a marriage and a new home have all been celebrated over TSB’s oysters and bubbles and we’re excitedly searching to find the next excuse to go back.
|Specialities||Erm, that’ll be the seafood|
|Booking||For the restaurants, absolutely. But you can walk in to the de Pijp branch|
|Groups||Up to five is no problem, but call the restaurant for anything larger||
The Seafood Bar – Van Baerlestraat
The Seafood Bar – Spui
The Seafood Market – Ferdinand Bolstraat