Breda is a place where two talented young chefs are given the freedom to surprise you with their creations. Come with an open mind and trust them, you won’t be disappointed!
If you were not paying attention, you could easily walk straight passed Breda. Nestled amongst the quaint Amsterdam buildings, it is not immediately obvious. We were determined to find it however, having decided specifically to search it out. After spotting the canal-side seating and clean marble table tops, we realized we had found the right place and eagerly asked to be seated.
We wanted to eat there because a few days earlier we had enjoyed an excellent meal at Breda’s sister restaurant Guts and Glory. As we sampled its delicious arancini balls and prosciutto with cantaloupe gelato, we became more and more sure that we were going to check out Breda. We had to see what else this talented team could offer.
Just like their other restaurant, Breda does not offer a normal menu. Instead, you can opt for either a ‘small selection of dishes’, a ‘wide selection of dishes’, or ‘all we’ve got’. What exactly these dishes consist of depends on what they've decided to create that day, and you won’t know what this is until it is placed in front of you. We knew we could trust the chefs though, after enjoying our previous meal so much. While waiting for our food we ordered some wine. They have an extensive list which will please connoisseurs, but we left the choice up to the sommelier – lets be honest he knew more than us and being part of the executive team, his selection is an integral part of the overall experience.
As we sampled the sommelier’s excellent pick, we had a look at our surroundings. The restaurant is quite dimly lit, but the white tablecloths and narrow Dutch windows make the space feel inviting and homely. On a hot summer’s day, I’m sure that outside by the canal would be a lovely place to dine. Breda is located in the heart of Amsterdam, on the Singel canal. It is easy to get to, being just a few minutes walk from Dam Square.
The owners, Guillaume de Beer, and Freek van Noortwijk split their time between here and Guts and Glory. They're both young and laid-back, bringing some relaxed friendliness to the often formal fine-dining scene. At Breda they are joined by Johanneke van Iwaarde, the sommelier. They were all happy to talk to us and share their love of food, cooking, and the Netherlands. They all possessed the Dutch habit of speaking plainly, and we got into a passionate discussion about where to find the best craft beer. This was friendly however, and we found ourselves liking them as people, and not just admiring them as chefs. Equally likable were the rest of the staff, who provided great service and made the whole experience comfortable and pleasant.
We were still in the dark about what the food would be like. The restaurant is named after the city of Breda in the south of the Netherlands where the team grew up. While the website states that they are ‘passionate about the city and the gourmet lifestyle of the Southern Netherlands’, this did not give us any clues as to what we could expect. We pressed Guillaume for details and he told us that their cuisine was French, with Asian influences. In reality though, although this proves to be no more than a basic guideline, the lack of a menu means that they can serve whatever they like. Their talent means that what they like, you probably will too! They are however, more than happy to prepare you something different if you don’t love what they bring.
By giving themselves the freedom to experiment with new dishes, instead of sticking to a set menu, they are able to maintain incredibly high levels of passion and excitement about cooking, and this really comes out in their dishes. By doing whatever they want, they ensure that they always enjoy their work rather than loosing their enthusiasm cooking the same thing day after day. The flavors are rich, but the food is generally light, so you will be able to sample all of the dishes you order, and won’t leave feeling too stuffed. Amongst the creations they made when we visited was tomato soup. They brought new life to this dish by serving it with deep fried Beignet style cracker and topping it with avocado and diced tomato. Another highlight was the raw haddock. This came with watercress puree, smoked cream cheese, and herring caviar. On top were some delicately arranged potato chips. Just like at their other restaurant, everything was artistically laid-out on beautiful crockery.
If you love food then Breda is probably somewhere you should go. They don’t freely give out much information however, and you have to be open minded and willing to trust in the skills of the chefs - the element of surprise is an essential part of the Breda experience. If you do, they won’t let you down. On top of this, it has a winning blend of high quality food, wine, and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere – created by its young and enthusiastic staff. Both here, and at Guts and Glory, these chefs are trying bold new things. In both places, it is working.
For more information about Breda, or for reservations follow the link below: