Trying to find a location to meet the in-laws for the first time is almost as daunting a prospect as the meeting itself, but Café Restaurant de Plantage in the eponymous, elegant district of Amsterdam Oost is the saviour for those needing to impress without any stress.
De Plantage had been on the Team Kompas radar for quite some time thanks to a flock of reliable recommendations but as per usual we hadn’t managed to find the reason (should one be needed) to go. Maybe we’re a bit old skool or just stuck in our ways, but certain places seem like special occasion destinations, so based on our sources, we’d filed de Plantage under ‘future event’. I’m happy to report that sooner-rather-than-later, the event presented itself: it was time to introduce that special someone to a set of visiting parents.
The criteria for such a milestone is extensive…
What do we need? Well, we need great food; it should be refined but filling and familiar – avant-garde is not de rigueur. We want to be relaxed; worlds are colliding so we don’t need an atmosphere to amplify any discomfort. It can’t be too loud; frankly, we’re working with OAPs and we’re not all used to each other so words and meanings could easily get lost in the thrum. But then it can’t be too quiet; we don’t want a gap in conversation to feel like a chasm – pins should not be heard dropping.
Price isn’t necessarily an issue when it’s a moment like this, but no-one should feel uncomfortable about choosing their food or wine, so let’s stay away from prices that widen the eyes. Also, it mustn’t be trendy; rather, it needs to be elegant in a timeless sort of way that everyone understands. And then logistically, it needs to be a single tram or Uber ride away; nothing involving a ferry or an interchange.
In summary, all the stars need to align to bring the best possible combination of elements at the moment you really need it; perfect but seemingly effortless. It’s not catastrophic if you don’t get it all, but if it pays off then you’ll look like the dream host/child/partner, all rolled into one.
Hashtag favourite. Hashtag marriage material.
When discussing the challenge and my proposed solution, those who knew de Plantage would nod with approval, ‘oh, yes. Yes. Very appropriate’ they’d say. And I’m pleased to announce that Team Kompas completely agree.
Now, we’re not superstitious enough or adequately knowledgeable in anything astronomical (or astrological) to give credit to the stars’ alignment that particular night, which means we can only attribute our evening’s success to the venue and its components. And happily so, because credit should be given where credit is due.
To start, our party of four shared a couple of very beautifully presented planks with artfully arranged and intriguing selections of charcuterie and vegetarian appetizers. A starter halved is an experience shared so there were plenty of discussions about mutual enjoyment. For mains, we shared again… it was the special slow-roasted leg of lamb that proved too tantalising to pass on, so we ordered a couple between the four of us. We were incredibly satisfied – our only complaint being that we were too full for dessert.
The service was attentive and friendly. As usual, no one was to be found when we wanted to ask for the bill, but those who live in this town will be familiar with that particular feature of the local hospitality industry.
More important to mention is the building itself. Café Restaurant de Plantage is actually just a few years old after the conservatory building was extensively renovated and became the space it is today. Its hangar-like ceilings and vast, pretty windows give it air, class and grandeur. Meanwhile its location on the public grounds of Amsterdam’s lovely zoo, Artis, provides a unique outlook onto a courtyard with soft white lights strung over head from sycamore trees, beyond which are enclosures housing flamingos and other bird species unbeknownst to us (in addition to astronomy and astrology, we apparently also know little about ornithology). Artis, Artisplein and the restaurant live together with the Micropia museum, around the corner from Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam’s botanical gardens.
When the bill eventually arrived, the overall impression was of good value even including wine. We plumped for the house bottles, but other options would of course start piling on the Euros.
So there’s absolutely no doubt about our ability to recommend the restaurant for a sophisticated dinner, but our sources tell us that it’s also a good spot for a spur-of-the-moment lunch or just a cup of coffee. No need to plan, no need to queue. Turn up, get a seat and eat.
So it would seem clear that de Plantage is a big hitter. It provided exactly the right levels of relaxation and ceremony to enable the moment itself to be as fluid and easy as possible. Essentially it was a perfect recipe, executed in exactly the right way. You certainly don’t need to keep it for such a ceremonious moment, but with these kind of events popping up once in while it’s certainly worth remembering that Café Restaurant de Plantage is at your service to help get the moment right.
|Specialities||Bistro-style food for brunch, lunch or dinner|
|Booking||Worth it to guarantee a spot at peak times, but certainly not compulsory|
|Groups||Come one, come all|