Nieuw Amsterdam, Melbourne CBD
Melbourne was taken over by foodie culture a few years ago when the MasterChef craze started turning chefs into the new rock stars, and it really hasn’t let up; if anything, it’s only intensified. Melbourne is now home to some of the hottest restaurants and best chefs in the world, so when a new place opens up that everyone is talking about, you pay attention. Melbourne foodies suffer from serious FOMO (fear of missing out) when there’s a new opening.
Nieuw Amsterdam, an American-style bistro-cum-cocktail bar, is the baby of Nick Stanton. Its a nondescript little front with no signage, occupying the space Pugg Mahones once filled. Upon entering, you have the option of heading down stairs for cocktails, or upstairs for food. My best friend and I were lucky enough to get a booking last night for dinner, and we were excited to see what the fuss was all about.
It lived up to the hype; the food was incredible.
We decided to share a few plates on the advice of the lovely lady behind the bar where we were seated – from left to right, we had:
1. Baked eggplant (Grilled tofu, mushrooms, spiced yogurt), $18.00
2. Dutch potato fries with spicy mayo, $9.00
3. Southern style pork belly chops (Sauerkraut, apple sauce, crackle), $21.00
The eggplant and tofu was surprisingly perfect. Yes, it was beautifully presented, that’s a given, but it tasted even better than it looks. Tofu gets a pretty bad wrap usually for being bland and boring, but whatever they did to this tofu was something special. The spiced yogurt was the extra special part though – you just have to taste it!
The pork belly & crackling was what I was most looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. The crackling was as crispy as you like, the sauerkraut was amazing (wasn’t expecting that), but the pork belly… it wasn’t really fatty like you might expect. These were choice cuts, cooked magnificently – I actually didn’t really need my knife, the meat just fell away when I put my fork into it. Definitely a dish worth returning for. We were told it was their signature dish; believe the hype.
Chips were a bit disappointing to be honest – I’m a crispy chip girl, and they just weren’t crispy. The mayo, however, for someone who detests all food spicy, was delicious!!
So yeah, the food there is as amazing as everyone says. Go there and eat – you’re gonna love it. However, the biggest draw card for me wasn’t necessarily the food, it was the service. It’s sad but true that Melbourne restaurants seem to be getting a bad reputation for shitty, rude, inattentive service lately. Not here. The staff attending to us were wonderful; they were super helpful when we asked for recommendations, were more than happy to have a chat and a laugh with us, and were very patient while we worked our way through our plates of food and bottle of wine. They made us feel like we were friends over for dinner, adapting to our personalities, taking stock of how we were interacting with each other, and then talking and laughing and joking with us in the same way, rather than treating us as inconvenient diners they had to put up with (which we probably were!). It was impressive because places like this, where the food is good enough to bring people in even if the service is terrible, they still all made an effort with us. Much appreciated and made all the difference to our night.
I’ll definitely be heading back again, and would suggest you do the same!