Nieuw Amsterdam – it would be culinary blasphemy to place such a trendy / mid-range priced venue in the same arena as Ezard (a two hat classic spectacular). But it is fair to say that ,for the price range it is in, Nieuw Amsterdam is definitely one of my new faves.
The occasion was a friend’s engagement and the crew was the Dinner Club (we really must work on our name!) – a group of 5 people (which is now actually 6 after recruiting a wino on the night – vital in any Dinner Club situation) who try to get together once a month to try somewhere new.
The restaurant was Nieuw Amsterdam – a two story venue (a bar downstairs and a restaurant upstairs) which felt like a mix of somwhere you find in New Orleans and a home set from The Secret Life of Us.
After being led to our table by staff who were about as trendy as the restaurant, we started with a range of dishes: pimento cheese fritters ($14.50); chicken waffles ($15); pork trotter and ham hock nuggets ($15) and black kingfish ceviche ($18). To the unfortunate luck of the ceviche, I had been to Pastuso's the week before (by far has the best ceviche I've had in Melbourne) and in comparison, Nieuw Amsterdam's was slightly disappointing. Otherwise, the pimento cheese fritters were the dish of the day - a flavour sensation with each bite, the cheesiness being nicely balanced with the accompanying ravigote dressing.
For the main we had an assortment of meat: bbq lamb ribs ($20); smoky beef brisket ($25) and southern style pork belly chops ($24), as well as a range of sides: southern slaw (8$); dutch potato fries ($9); green beans with seaweed butter ($9.50) on the side. Each plate of meat was as tender as the last and, stacking our plates with all sorts (like we were at a Nonna's dinner), the flavours of all the dishes worked incredibly well together and gave the meal the sense of a family feast.
For desert we shared the chocolate delice ($13); pumpkin pie ($12.50) and berry split ($13). While I can't comment on the chocolate delice as I am allergic to cocoa (shocking but true) - the berry split with its layers of mouse and frozen sorbet was a textual surprise that I wasn't expecting. In terms of the pumpkin pie, with my family being from Texas, it really had no hope and didn’t quite compare to the many pumpkin pies I've had sitting on the sticky benches of American diners.
Verdict: The New Fave