Last evening we sat in the Dutch countryside, amidst sculpted hedges and blooms of lavender. Tables were set for dinner and little by little they filled with couples and families out for a country meal.
Yet, we were practically in the center of Amsterdam, at the Restaurant Merkelbach. The terrace and garden have been recently restored to a former elegance; the lovely manor house that includes the restaurant, called Huize Frankendael, was built around 1650. It and its gardens are a lovely, calm spot in a city that bustles all around.
The menu is Mediterranean, the ingredients are local. We started with a beautiful artichoke tapenade and Sardinian-style carta di musica, paper-thin flat bread also called pane carasau. We were a table of light eaters, starting with the restaurant’s signature salad of beets, hazelnuts and aged local cheese. Accompanied by beautiful crusty bread, it was delightful. We followed that with a richly flavored goat-filled pastry that was simple, satisfying, both delicate in flavor and hearty in satisfaction; one at our table had a richly flavored seafood soup. Desserts included a dense chocolate tart with mocha ice cream; pavlova with fresh berries and lemon custard, and tiny, sugar-dusted madeleines with berries.
As the evening grew chill, diners gradually moved into the contemporary, art-filled dining room, where candles flickered on the tables welcomed, along with the warm, friendly staff.
The experience, the food, and the gorgeous Nero D’Avola were exceptional.
Restaurant Merkelbach, Middenweg 72, 1097 BS Amsterdam. Tel +31(0)20 66 50 880