[Amsterdam] The Pantry

In spite of its English sounding name, the Pantry serves traditional Dutch dishes. And it’s very popular. Place was packed with a queue of people waiting to get in and others being turned away. It’s why we’d booked – it’s why we always book if a place takes reservations.

There was a shrimp cocktail to start. The tiny little brown shrimps (that the Dutch and French call grey), not the larger prawns. They’re a coastal catch on both sides of the North Sea and are always delicious. This was a classic preparation – lettuce, shrimps, Marie Rose sauce.

On the other starter plate, a trio of local sausages. Not the whole sausages, of course, but a couple of slices of each. There’s a cooked one, very meaty but fairly bland. And a smoked one that looked like it was going to be a fatty salami but was actually very soft and spreadable (tasted great – a favourite of the three). And the third, almost a pate in texture and taste. They come with bread, pickles and a dish of very poky grain mustard.

The centrepiece of one main course was mashed potato, mixed with very finely chopped kale, so that it’s bright green. As with a number of their potato based dishes, you can have this with a smoked sausage or a meatball. That’ll be the meatball, please. There’s just one. It’s big, very dense and very delicious, particularly when on the fork, with some of the mash and the gravy.

A much lighter affair across the table. Two whole sole, perfectly cooked with the flesh easily flaking from the bones. They come with salad, chips and a ravigote sauce (although I doubt the latter was a classic preparation tasting, as it did, of a tartare sauce). But it all worked well together.

There was room for desserts and an inclination to order them – something that we often pass on. For a spin on the traditional stroopwafel, there was a caramel ice cream, whipped cream and the thin waffle stuck into it for decoration and texture. The other dessert was more of a classic preparation – apple pie and whipped cream. What’s not to like?

This is a nice, well run, restaurant, with attentive staff who smile. Yes, it’s touristy but it’s in a touristy area and, hey, we were tourists.