Sympathetic newcomer has yet to learn to seduce

You may have noticed: since the summer we try to pay attention to the little ones. That’s how it is. In a very nice cafe in the city center we recently met a very nice lady who recognized us from the newspaper. She said she loves our bits, but the restaurants we discuss are quite pricey. “One hundred and fifty euros for two, that’s quite a lot of money,” she remarked. A little embarrassed, we checked our administration again at home. The lady was right.

So we made a list of cheaper newcomers, after all, almost everyone has to keep their hands on the cut in corona time. And that’s how we ended up at Kanteen25, a sympathetic project annex all day restaurant on the former Marineterrein. Sympathetic, because students and status holders work in the kitchen and are trained at the same time, thereby increasing their chances on the labor market. When it comes to 1,5 meters away, you’re in the right place. The business is spacious, there is a gigantic raised terrace on the water with a view of the Oosterdok and people take the triage seriously.

As for the cuisine, it’s kept simple: pizzas, salads, burgers and three serious main courses, everything is prepared on site from local ingredients and nothing is thrown away. There is a wide choice for vegetarians. Long story short: Kanteen25 is good from all sides.

Now we are sincere foodies and it’s not just about good intentions. Unfortunately, at Kanteen25 the food is a disappointing experience. The service is sweet and attentive, that’s not the issue, but what’s on the plate hardly causes any excitement. Because there are no starters, we immediately head for our main courses: the daily special (10,-) and lamb stew (17.50) and to get a good impression we also order a veggie burger (9,-). To start with the latter: the range of vegetarian burgers has greatly improved compared to, say, five years ago. If you were forced into a dry lentil burger then, now you can really look forward to something juicy and hearty. However, Kanteen25’s burger is made of quinoa, which is free-flowing, but almost falls apart and tastes like… nothing really. It’s average, not pronounced, the texture is downright dry, and it doesn’t come with a tasty sauce other than tasty yuzu mayonnaise. To be truly conquered as only a citizen can do, no, that will not work.

That also applies to the lamb, pulled lamb which indeed falls apart, but is dry. There is lemon couscous with dried fruit and there are tufts of carrot cream on it, fine, but no gravy or sauce. Only the lettuce has plenty of flavour, comes with beautifully cut ingredients and is excellently prepared. That dry prairie feeling also hits us with the chicken with roasted potatoes and a salad of arugula and bean sprouts. It’s a good plate of food and the salad is okay, but no reason to go to a restaurant yet.

With the desserts you can choose from a long list of patisserie and then the strong from Kanteen25. Not everything is in stock, but what we taste is good. The Homemade twix (2,-) does indeed look like Twix and tastes like biscuit and caramel, but cold as ice cream… delicious. The lemon meringue (5,-) is a refined pastry that is not inferior to the better baking of master patissiers. Also notable is the good selection of wines, especially natural wines. For a price that you hardly find in Amsterdam anymore, we drink white and red house wine (3.50) and a step higher excellent (but too warm!) Vignerons d’Estézargues (5.-), a blend of Grenache and Carignan, deep and so full.

We can live fine with a canteen-like interior and we don’t turn up our noses for simple dishes, because the master shows himself in simplicity. But we do want to be surprised and seduced by tastes and that is only moderately successful here.

Reviewer and journalist Rock Possel tests a restaurant in and around Amsterdam every week.