Witteveen opened in 2009 where a ‘grand café’ of the same name used to be. The child-friendly Amsterdam restaurant offers brasserie food and babies in its eatery-cum-crèche on Ceintuurbaan.
The premises are enormous, but the smart - in all senses of the word - design by architectural agency Concrete means it doesn't feel cavernous. A large bar dominates the centre of the room, and tables run down both sides of it. Also down one side, stretching for an incredible 16 metres, is a Chesterfield sofa.
There is more seating at the back of the restaurant, and a playroom for kids equipped with toys and colouring materials. The tiled mosaic floor throughout is a reference to the original Witteveen, which was famous for its tables covered in Persian rugs.
I had been meaning to go to Brasserie Witteveen for a while, but mixed reviews made me put it off. I was finally seduced by the promise of a €10 main course during DiningCity’s Eetweek ('eat week').
We made the mistake of booking for 7:30pm, which was right in the middle of family feeding time. Nevertheless, we squeezed in between the pushchairs, abandoned toys and scampering children.
The Eetweek dining deal meant that there was a 'choice' of only one main dish at the reduced price, and any other courses ordered were full price.
Witteveen’s menu is printed on the paper placemats on the tables and features plenty of brasserie classics, including mussels, steak and frites. We ordered the charcuterie plate to start, which came with a chunk of pâté, good home-made mayonnaise and excellent crusty, rustic bread.
The main dish was a thick beef stew heaped over mousseline mashed potatoes as smooth and creamy as toothpaste. The meat was tender, and the sauce, which was run through with tiny pickled onions, was rich and tasty. A scattering of crispy, julienne mixed vegetables prevented it from being overwhelming.
The wines - we ordered a Shiraz and a Grenache - were decidedly underwhelming, as was the service. Rather like the errant minors running around, the service didn’t seem to be fully formed. Our first waitress looked barely old enough to have a social security number and couldn’t remember the specials; our second waitress forgot to bring the wines we had ordered, and three drinks we hadn't ordered appeared on our final bill.
The child behind me, who was balanced on his mum’s lap at the bar, was so tired he could barely eat. Instead, he spent most of the meal throwing his chips at my feet. I had to skid through them to get to the toilet.
"You wouldn't want to have a first date here," was my tablemate's summation of the evening. Indeed, there was little romance in Brasserie Witteveen at that time of day, even though we were surrounded by the products of lots of (hopefully) loving relationships.
Nerves jangling, we skipped dessert at Brasserie Witteveen and instead finished our meal with strudel and chocolate-heavy tiramisu at the serenely child-free Italian restaurant l'Ozio.
Mon-Wed, Sun 09.00-22.00; Thur-Sat 09.00-23.00
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