With an ever-changing menu, Guts & Glory is Amsterdam's boldest new restaurant -- which is anything but traditional. Without guts however, there is no glory!
One of the best things about traveling is the opportunity it gives to sample the new and inventive things which chefs around the world are trying out. Increasingly, fixed menus of safe, well-known dishes are being replaced with fresh new ideas. Amsterdam is home to many restaurants which are boldly experimenting with new dining concepts, and one of these is Guts and Glory. I am not sure if the name was chosen to reflect this, but by having the guts to try something new, they have certainly won themselves some glory – it was in fact, my favorite restaurant in Amsterdam!
We discovered it when searching for restaurants online. The website offers no menu, just a list of ‘chapters’ and a price list that varies depending on the number of courses you choose. The current chapter was Italy, and previous ones had included chicken, fish, and vegetables. There was little or no information about the chef, his team, or anything else really. Intrigued, we decided to try it out.
The restaurant is hidden in plain sight. Squashed between in gritty hotel and a generic burger bar, it is conveniently located on Utrechtsestraat, just off Rembrandtplein. We were given a table on the patio outside, allowing us to enjoy the good weather and soak up the unique Amsterdam atmosphere. As the sun went down, the outdoor heaters made sure we stayed comfortable and warm. Bikes, trams, and cars rushed past, and the narrow Dutch buildings towered over us. The friendly staff quickly brought us over a menu which like the website, offered only a choice of five, six or seven courses.
Guts and Glory offers a surprise menu. The chapters (themes would be another way of describing them) change every three to six months and determines what food will be served. They began with chapters based around ingredients – so the chicken chapter contained many different chicken dishes, and we were told that they were not squeamish about using every part of the bird! They have now moved on to regions, and when we visited it was the Italian chapter. This is a brave business model. Traditional wisdom suggests that in the precarious restaurant business, you should choose a concept, create some popular dishes, and then stick with them, perhaps rotating a few specials for variety. To completely change not just your menu, but your entire theme so regularly takes real guts. It takes some more to not even tell your guests what they will be getting when they arrive, and it becomes almost ridiculously bold when you consider that for the two chefs behind it, this is their first restaurant.
Guillaurme de Beer and Freek de Noortwijk are both relatively young and have put together a talented kitchen team. Just as their restaurant concept does not follow the standard route, neither do their staff. Most of them do not have any formal training, and some are even completely self-taught. This does not translate into bad food however, quite the opposite! Their creations are excellent and are all presented with finesse. Every one of the courses we were served was delicious. Highlights included prosciutto with ice and pizza bites, tuna tartar with capers and caviar, and ossobuco with risotto a la Milanese. It all came on attractive crockery and stylish wooden boards. Despite the relaxed and unassuming feel of the restaurant, and the lack of tradition in both concept and staff, the quality of the food and its presentation was as good as that found in any high-end establishment. While bringing their own original take on dining, they have retained the things which matter most.
Alongside the choice of course number, you also have the option to go for ‘extra glory’ in the form of a cheese platter or serving of king crab. These would make great sharing dishes for large groups. To top it off, they have a long and well thought-out wine list as well as a great knowledge of which wines best compliment their current food selection. We let them pick out a bottle and were more than happy with their choice.
If you are a foodie visiting Amsterdam, you should without question stop by Guts and Glory. It would also make a great place to take a date or to get together with friends. While you cannot be sure what you will get until the moment it is placed in front of you, you can be certain that you will not leave disappointed! Currently they are doing Latin America, but they will soon be moving on to the next chapter – France. I for one would love to see what they come up with.
For more information about Guts & Glory, or to make a reservation, follow the link below