Basic eats are the bedrock of the city's first Dutch pancake house.
While paging through an Amsterdam guidebook at this new Dutch pancake house, I read there are two reasons to travel to the Netherlands’ capital city: intimacy and accessibility. And these are the same reasons to eat at Pannenkoeken Café.
Seating only about 20 people, the eatery is certainly one of the city’s more quaint (read: smaller) breakfast-lunch nooks. (To the credit of mother-daughter owners Linda Ellis and Gina Salgado, it’s one of the more adorable ones, too.) On a weekday morning, size wasn’t an issue; we were seated, sipping coffee and perusing the menu in less than 20 minutes. But after waiting an hour on a busy Saturday for a squeezed-in table beside the entrance, the restaurant’s tight quarters suddenly felt not so much cozy as unnerving.
For a restaurant whose namesake is Dutch pancakes, it’s disappointing to find only three versions on offer. There are more eggs available, including two omelettes, which, while fluffy and packed with fresh veggies, aren’t singular enough to justify traveling outside your ’hood. The same goes for the solid but shrugworthy French toast and a run-of-the-mill Belgian waffle.
So skip the spate of breakfast basics and order the one savory pannenkoek. At a centimeter thick, almost a foot in diameter, and topped with baked-on slices of bacon and havarti cheese, it quickly prompted comparisons to an open-faced crêpe. First-time restaurateur and chef Ellis spent the past three summers in the Netherlands learning to make pannenkoeken, and her results are remarkably close to the real deal. The prodigious pancake’s crispy golden-brown perimeter hangs off the edge of the plate, while the interior serves as a spongy vehicle for its toppings, which make or break these pancakes. (Indeed, the chocolate-banana topping turned the pancake into a soggy, overly sweet mess.)
If only to slake a curiosity about Dutch pancakes, Pannenkoeken is certainly worthy of one visit. I’d return for a third, but just to flip through the guidebook for recommendations on where to eat during my next trip to Amsterdam.