On your first visit to Amsterdam, you’ll probably notice that there isn’t much in the way of local cuisine. And while the Dutch do have a few traditional foods, it’s true that most of the restaurants you’ll come across in the city serve international foods; traditional Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian restaurants are far more common than traditional Dutch.
However, if you’re looking for a restaurant that offers a “Dutch experience,” Haesje Claes Restaurant in Amsterdam may be a good choice. While it doesn’t offer the best value for your money, and may seem a little gimmicky or touristy to some, a meal at Haesje Claes is a lot of fun— and feels as Old Dutch as it gets.
Haesje Claes opened in 1974, and was name for Lady Haesje Claes, who founded the Amsterdam orphanage “Amsterdam Burgerweeshuis.” At the time of its opening, Haesje Claes Restaurant was made up of only one building. But its instant popularity and especially its appeal to tourists has turned Haesje Claes into an Amsterdam landmark; the restaurant currently extends over six entire buildings, all interconnected and with three separate entrances.
The interior of the restaurant is decorated with antique furniture and bric a brack, as well as scenes depicting Lady Haesje Claes’s famous orphanage. And while the restaurant itself is huge, the rustic interior and exposed beam ceilings give it a cozy, homey atmosphere.
Locals and tourists visit Haesje Claes more for the ambiance and the experience than the food. While the food here is good, it’s not necessarily a great value, and there are other places in the city where you’ll find better-prepared dishes for lower prices. What it does have is an authentic Dutch flavor and plenty of charm. The stampotten (dishes with mashed potato and vegetables or meats) are particularly good, and definitely warming on a cold winter night.
Dinner at Haesje Claes restaurant runs about €30 per person; you can choose from their three course menu (plus tea or coffee) for €28.50. So while a meal at Haesje Claes isn’t the best you’ll have while in Amsterdam, it’ll be more fun than most. As long as you don’t mind eating surrounded by 300 other tourists.