Simpel is a typical mid-sized Amsterdam restaurant in the south of the city, not far from the Rijksmuseum. It looks and feels like many others I’ve been to and some of my colleagues debated whether we’d been there before because it ‘felt’ so familiar. We were a party of five who’d booked a table for 8 people - the manager resisted the temptation to give us a hard time over being 10 minutes late and 3 people short. Not all would have been so friendly or understanding.
Service is typically Amsterdam-lethargic although we’re experienced enough to know that in this city if you don’t ask, you don’t get so we asked - for the menus, to place the orders, to get the bill. In some ways it’s nice that the staff aren’t hurrying you along, but after several years of Amsterdam dining that wears thin. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff to hurry things along.
They have a menu in Dutch or English. Sadly our waitress didn’t actually know the names of some of the things on the English menu which had plenty of potential to confuse. Some of the translations are not so good or precise and several dishes were not available, including the one I really wanted. It was early evening so I have to assume they hadn’t run out - they just hadn’t made any.
I had a salmon tartare and foolishly assumed it would be a ‘normal’ salmon tartare. The inclusion of chopped Dutch shrimps was quite a surprise and the salmon was minced very finely. I didn’t mind it but I know some would. My main course of seafood linguini was excellent but shockingly hot. When the menu says ‘garlic pepper oil’ you don’t expect vindaloo curry strength chilli. My French colleague couldn’t eat it. She also didn’t understand that ‘linguini nero’ would be black squid ink pasta. Restaurants need to realise that they make an English menu and use it with French, German, Spanish and other clients they may not get the subtleties of what’s on there. I also thought that the use of a seafood mix that was about 50% octopus was perfect for me, but would have horrified anyone expecting a more conventional blend.
The menu is quite small which is a good thing. Some of the dishes were very good - the Caesar salad scored on both size and quality but was pronounced a bit TOO big, the fish soup was very generously portioned, and the vitello tonnata was apparently very good. The seabass main courses were appreciated too. The steak was less of a success and the scallop portion was really mean. The bread served whilst we waited was excellent.
During our visit the place was far too cold and a bit too noisy. One colleague spent the whole evening with her shawl hugged around her, barely able to avoid shivering. They have one of those circular curtain arrangements at the entrance but it was not kept closed and it meant we were in a cold draft. This did spoil things slightly. I’ve been in colder and noisier Amsterdam restaurants but these problems could very easily be remedied. I guess when the staff are running around with hot plates, they don’t always spot their customers are cold and miserable.
Prices were pretty standard for Amsterdam - I believe the bill was around €35-40 per head including drinks (although we didn’t drink much) and we skipped puddings and coffees.