Winter sports, that is not possible in the Netherlands. It hasn’t snowed really well for years and even if it did, there is very little to descend. However, we don’t have to travel far for the winter sports atmosphere and fun. We find it in the Utrechtsedwarsstraat in Amsterdam, at Bistrot des Alpes. Blank wooden floor, the same panelling, bread baskets with red and white checkered napkins, a plush moose on the wall, as well as a poster of The Laughing Cow, old wooden skis and poles, here and there a copper pot or milk can. In short: Bistrot des Alpes has the works.
To top it off the avalanche arrow, we can enjoy an aperitif or our coffee in a real ski lift. That all sounds like a big joke, but Bistrot des Alpes is genuinely a cozy place. Not least because of the very nice and very helpful service. It is immediately clear that they are well adapted to the theater audience that has to be around the corner from Carré at a quarter past eight: everything is going very smoothly.
Around eight the tent fills up again with less hurried guests. It is certainly not only the Dutch who find it funny, it turns out when a large group of French tourists arrives. The charming hostess turns out to speak fluent French.
On the plate
The story is as follows: chef Thibault Casasole trained in the French town of Thonon-les-Bains on Lake Geneva, then worked in Amsterdam under a number of great chefs and then went with his Dutch lover (that charming hostess) to the Haute-Savoie to open its own tent. Two years ago they brought that French Alpine cuisine to Amsterdam.
This makes Bistrot des Alpes the place to be for a good raclette (a quarter or half of cheese, from 24 euros pp) or cheese fondue (‘Savoyarde’ or ‘montagnarde’, both available with or without ceps, between 18 and 25 euros pp). Perhaps the best thing is to order a raclette for one person (22.90 euros). Then you get a very small charcoal grill next to the table with a slot underneath. A small frying pan can then be placed in which you can melt slices of cheese. The smoked raclette is especially tasty. With a wooden scraper you can drape it over a well-cooked potato (served in a cute wooden bucket) or a slice of traditional charcuterie. Fun and delicious.
Smooth and creamy
There are also ‘normal’ starters and main courses, the bistrot dishes. They are a little less spectacular. At least, the three we ate – a raclette like that really chops. The ‘cappuccino’ of pumpkin soup with chestnut foam and bacon (7.90 euros) is in theory a nice dish, only foam and soup are a bit pale, and the large blocks of smoked bacon on the bottom then again bream salt. The smoked trout rillette (7.90 euros) is surprisingly soft and creamy, but therefore a bit cowardly, the lettuce next to it (in a preserving jar) has barely been prepared. The ‘magret de canard à l’orange’ (21 euros) is okay, the duck breast not overcooked, the sauce sweet and sticky, great puree on the side – the bimi is a bit out of place, but it also has a good bite.
The beers are particularly tasty: Brasserie de Mont Blanc, made with melt water from the famous mountain. A really nice surprise. We also enjoy drinking the red house wine, a Gamay from Savoie, with the cheese board. Of course we expect French Alpine cheeses, but this shelf is very predictable: Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon and Blue de Gex. And not even the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. That’s a shame, they could have just made the difference here.
That does not alter the fact that Bistro des Alpes is a very nice place for a casual evening of raclettes. And especially drink a cup of coffee in the ski lift. The entourage is absolute over the top – but it works, it’s very cosy. If you really can’t get enough of it, you can spend the night in a ski hut party café a little further on at Rembrandtplein, but I really can’t recommend that to anyone.