The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is more than worthy of its hotel pedigree. Six grand canalside houses from the city’s Golden Age are home to this exclusive, 5-star hotel.
A Place to Meet
At the centre of the richly furnished Peacock Alley lobby lounge of the stunning Bel Etage entrance floor of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam sits a beautiful armillary sphere of marble and metal. This is a sculptural reference to the armillary sphere used by Amsterdam’s explorers and traders, and is also depicted in the 1668 painting ‘The Astronomer’ by Johannes Vermeer. This striking feature relates of course to time as well and echoes the classic clocks one might find in a vintage Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
This isn’t the only contemporary interpretation of a classic. The hotel’s relaxed, yet elegant Goldfinch Brasserie is the place to dine in Amsterdam for a modern spin on favourite dishes.
The Goldfinch Brasserie
This autumn I was welcomed to dine at this cosy, smart and upscale restaurant. Found on the garden level of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, it combines the elegance of the luxury hotel, with the more informal setting of overlooking the property’s private garden.
The Goldfinch Brasserie menus are created by Executive Chef Sidney Schutte (renowned for his dishes at the hotel’s two-star Michelin restaurant Librije’s Zusje Amsterdam), and Sous-Chef Tomas Bron. They are the talent behind the modern, seasonal, a la carte menus, as well as the set 2, 3 & 4 course Chef’s Menus.
Many dishes use exotic spices and are evocative of faraway lands
These set menus are an ideal way to make sure you enjoy some of the signature dishes. Also, with prices from 36 euro for two course, up to 56 euro for the 4-course menu, these represent very good value; an opportunity to experience fine-dining from one of the city’s award-winning kitchens, without the usual expense. The restaurant also offers a business lunch served within an hour.
The style of menu reflects the Netherlands maritime past, with a fusion of Dutch and Asian influences. Many of the dishes use exotic spices and are evocative of faraway lands. (Executive Chef Sidney Schutte was executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong).
We were welcomed with a glass of champagne by the friendly and professional waitress. She helped us navigate the menu and discussed the options.
The accompanying wine menu (curated by the hotel’s sommelier, Pieter Vermij), is impressive. Having enjoyed a welcoming glass of champagne we ordered another with the starters, but with the main course I enjoyed a glass of the velvety Cairanne Rhone red wine.
Opening the elegant grey and gold embossed menu one finds starters such as Kabocha Squash with lobster; Gillardeau Oysters; Imperial Caviar; Sturgeon Shrimps; and Beef Tartar.
Toro tuna tartare creatively served in birchwood dishes
We chose the Toro tuna tartare creatively served in birchwood dishes, accompanied by crispy shiso leaves, super-tasty mini shrimps, wasabi, nori, avocado, soy & furikake crumble. A wonderful combination of textures and flavours – and a visual delight.
The Padouk Smoked Salmon also caught our attention; served with a soft poached egg, Vadouvan spice, caper leaves, and crispy chicken skin.
The Crispy Glazed Chicken, with tomato, sweet & sour leek, shiitake, parsley root, and spring onion came highly recommended, as did the Dutch Beef burger.
Grilled Octopus & deep-fried sepia
But we opted for the Grilled Octopus & deep-fried sepia, sour cream with garlic, sweet corn, lemon, and watercress – a beautifully presented plate, with the crispness of the sepia the tenderness of the octopus.
The Japanese style glazed Iberico pork ribs with ginger, daikon, sesame, ponzu, and bonito flakes was a must. Bringing together the sweet and exotic flavours of the orient with a taste of the sea – exceptional.
Try and keep space for puddings – there are some very tempting options. I almost always go for chocolate, and at the Goldfinch that’s a great choice – I tucked into light Chocolate Crêpes with warm cherries, crème Suisse, and vanilla ice cream with a sprinkling of chocolate flakes (I naughtily asked for extra of course).
As a lighter option my dining companion enjoyed the refreshing Coconut Sorbet, with lychee and lime, served in a coconut shell, with crispy rice, peanut, and cacao.
Service throughout was on-point. Not pretentious at all; a good balance between professional formality and friendliness. The pacing of the dishes was perfect, and although attentive, the service was not overbearing – we had plenty of time to enjoy the food, the ambiance and the company.
We enjoyed a nightcap in the hotel’s Vault bar, where originally there was a bank vault. The day’s special cocktails were detailed on ‘currency’ presented in a wallet, and the menu came with a vintage safety deposit box key. Behind the main bar are some of the original safety deposit boxes.
This festive season the Goldfinch Brasserie has created some very special Christmas menus (contemporary preparations of Langoustine; then North Sea sole; and festive pheasant). If you’re looking to see in the New Year in style the extravagant party menu includes poaches lobster; cod loin; beef tenderloin; and pan-fried fois gras.
The Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam is a spectacular hotel. Six of these very special townhouses on the Herengracht canal have been totally renovated and reimagined as a 93-room luxury hotel, with fabulous rooms, top-notch bathrooms and modern amenities and facilities including a ‘Guerlain spa’ – the first in the Benelux region.
The property is in the heart of the historic UNESCO Herengracht canal district and offers canal and garden.
Décor echoes not only the style of Waldorf Astoria, but echoes Amsterdam’s Golden Era. The colour palette of lapis lazuli and ochre used throughout hotel is said to reference Vermeer’s works such as ‘The Girl With a Pearl Earring’.
The Luxury Editor was a guest when it opened, you can read our review of the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam here.
Look out for some spectacular historical architectural features including the Daniel Marot designed staircase.
Address: Goldfinch Brasserie, Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, Herengracht 542-556, Amsterdam, 1017 CG, Netherlands
Tel:+31 (0)20 718 4643