Stephen Travels

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Haesje Claes

Haesje Claes (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

The warren of atmospheric rooms of Haesje Claes, extended through a series of interconnected buildings, were packed. Amid the exposed beams, eclectic light fixtures, oak wall paneling, colored glass on the ceiling, paintings, and Delft tiles, lots — and I mean lots — of happy diners (maximum seating of 300 seemed to have been achieved) were enjoying their evening meal in this charming and convivial restaurant. The personable wait staff, including the hilarious Venezuelan waitress of Italian and Croatian heritage, added to the friendly vibe. And the menu — a veritable encyclopedia of traditional Dutch offerings — most definitely contributed to everyone’s high spirits.

Fork and KnifeTry This: True to its motto, “Van Kaantjes tot Kaviaar” (From Pork Cracklings to Caviar), Haesje Claes offers something to suit everyone. Start with some creamy cheese croquettes alongside a salad, and pair it with a delicious white asparagus soup. Seafood lovers will enjoy the mussels boiled in white wine with sauces and chips for the main course, but I opted for the terrific Dutch beef steak with mushrooms in a Béarnaise sauce, with fries, zucchini, and yellow squash. Cinnamon ice cream with raisins in brandy is the sweetest way to end your meal.