Dining in Amsterdam: Ron Gastrobar*

Chef Ron Blaauw gave up his restaurant with two Michelin stars (at which I never dined) and replaced it with a “gastrobar”, which after its first year received a single Michelin star. Ron Blaauw wanted to create a more accessible restaurant, and I think he has succeeded. At Ron Gastrobar you can order as many dishes as you like for 15 euros (about US$ 20) each. They are of an intermediate portion size: not as big as a main course, but not a small bite either. Three or four dishes are enough for a meal. The term  “gastrobar” also means that there are a lot of tables and quite close together. The restaurant is a bit like a “grand café”.  I was curious about this new restaurant, and so I went to check it out. (Photos taken with my iPhone in bad lighting conditions.)
On the menu are about 20 dishes to choose from: cold and warm, both meat and seafood (nothing completely vegetarian). You can also order expensive prime rib for two from premium beef and there are desserts (9 euros) and cheese. I decided to choose some of the less usual dishes I saw on the menu, and asked the waiter to bring matching wines with everything. (The waiter later explained that they do not really do wine pairings, she does select a wine from what is available but it is not something they research and sell actively.) There are no amuses bouche, only some pickled pearl onions that come with the good sourdough bread.

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The first dish I chose was a salad of chicken gizzards confit, celery, celeriac, crispy chicken skin and cream of foie gras. I enriced the dish with freshly grated white truffel for a surcharge of 10 euros. I shouldn’t have, because there was not enough truffle or it wasn’t fragrant enough, so I didn’t get a lot of truffle flavor for my 10 euros. The chicken gizzards confit was surprisingly nice. I don’t think you’d be able to tell it was chicken, let alone chicken gizzards. The combination of everything together worked really well, and it got better towards the bottom as I had not mixed in enough of the cream of foie gras in the beginning. The wine was a Grauburgunder (pinot gris) from Rheinessen. It worked quite well even though it was served a bit too cold. 8/10

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BBQ cabbage with crispy cavolo nero, bone marrow, and oyster cream. The BBQ white cabbage was really nice, quite sweet and not ‘cabbagey’ in a bad way at all. I liked the combination of everything together: the sweet cabbage slightly crunchy cabbage, the very crunchy cavolo nero, the velvety bone marrow, and the fresh oyster cream. I thought the amount of oyster cream was bit small compared to the substantial piece of cabbage and the marrow. The pairing with a white rioja was adequate. 8/10

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The star of the evening was BBQ spare ribs with homemade sambal oelek, smoked beetroot, horseradish, and deep-fried sauerkraut. The BBQ spare ribs were absolutely delicious. They were served without the bones, and it was a very adequate portion of meat (sufficient for a full main course I’d say). The meat had a great deep smoky flavor and good texture. The deep-fried sauerkraut was a nice touch, but flavorwise not so special. I liked the homemade sambal oelek because of its spicy but full and round flavor. The pairing with a merlot from Washington state was OK. The star of the night: 9/10.

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Hanger steak with lavas, patatas bravas, and seared foie gras (15 euros surchage for the foie gras). We shared this as we both had room for a little more and were curious about this dish. The hanger steak was the most tender I’ve ever had, although perhaps not as flavorsome. The red rioja was adequate. 8/10

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The baba au rhum I chose for dessert was served with a spicy mandarin sorbet. It worked quite well with a late-harvest chardonnay from Austria. Nice dessert. 8/10

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No petit fours with the tea, but we did get this complimentary cone of ice cream with peanut.

The food has great flavor and is presented nicely, 8.5/10. A wine pairing is not offered officially, but the wines by the glass that were offered to us were adequate and good value (around 6 euros per glass), 7/10. The service was friendly but just slightly sloppy here and there, 7/10. Ron Gastrobar is a very nice addition to what is available on the restaurant scene in Amsterdam, and I definitely recommend this place for it offers good value (especially if you don’t order surcharged options like truffle or foie gras).

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15 thoughts on “Dining in Amsterdam: Ron Gastrobar*

  1. I dined there last week and had a good experience too. What a coincidence (or not?), I chose the same dishes, except veal offal pita in stead of hanger steak. For foreigners: more than decent food, low prices, a Michelin star and a very Amsterdam experience (in terms of just how casual this place is)

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  2. Nice recommendation: must remember! Do like the imaginative look of the food ~ perhaps the chicken gizzard salad would have drawn most. The most eclectic pairing for me was that of sauerkraut and sambal oelek – I suppose being so used to using it/tasting it in SE Asian food it ‘looks’ unusual with European pickled cabbage!!

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    1. No need to remember — just drop me a line for updated suggestions when you are planning to come over 🙂
      Sambal is a very common ingredient in Holland as is sauerkraut, so for me it was not so strange to see them together. Some people put sambal on *everything* (just like Americans and ketchup), but in this case it worked very well with the ribs.

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      1. Interesting about the sambal: I have learned something again!! And thank you for the offer of info – may just take you up on that once upon a time 🙂 !

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  3. A great concept for a restaurant, particularly when the food is so thoughtfully prepared. I appreciate the serving sizes being small enough that more than one could be ordered and enjoyed while a person could just as easily order one and be happy. Those ribs that you described sound incredible, Stefan. That dish would have me returning again and again.

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