Amsterdam’s Hotel Okura is home to some Michelin-starred restaurants including Ciel Bleu on the 23rd floor (which has the most amazing views of the city), Yamazato (kaiseki), and Sazanka (teppanyaki). However, it’s their Bib Gourmand awardee, Serre, that really captured my curiosity.
This informal fine-dining venue is located on the ground floor of the hotel, and there’s an al fresco area outside where punters can dine and stay whilst overlooking the river Amstel. It’s a no-fuss place where you can bring clients, family and friends for a sophisticated but chill type of time. It’s all just “very Amsterdam”.
The menu is inspired by Ciel Bleu’s two-starred menu, with a nod to seasonal produce.
It’s a little bit of fine-dining without overly wanting to be, and a little bit of casual dining without disrespecting quality and service.
The steak tartare starter is served at your table, something I’ve always adored and hoped for this dish. Simply because if I’m having chopped raw beef, I’d like to know what’s in it, too.
The end result fared well with just enough herbs and a good load of Tabasco. The beef itself was of good quality, and went through the night with none of that ridiculously carnivorous after taste.
The mackerel salad may have looked uninspiring…
But the taste was absolutely delicious. I think I now have a newfound respect for the versatility of this fish. I used to hate it but recently found it a very interesting choice for chefs. It’s wonderfully divine when cooked properly!
Now, I’m quite a bouillabaisse snob, simply because I’ve been eating this since my childhood. I love a good depth of shellfish in my bisque and a glorious texture of seafood in my bowl. Oh, and a really punchy aioli to top it with.
Serre’s bouillabaisse is a delightful bowl of fruits de mer, which I would have any given day…
…and the bisque, although thinner than I would have wanted, was quite yummy too. The only thing that let me down was the aioli – I thought it didn’t bring that vibrant, garlicky depth that I was hoping for.
Pesto parpadelle with prawns was also quite nice, although frankly, I didn’t think they needed radishes in there.
My dessert was a concoction of poached pear and apples and vanilla ice cream. Simple, but good enough. Although not as mind-blowing as it could have been.
One thing I liked about Serre is that the post-dinner coffee comes in some sort of bento box with post-meal biccies, petit fours and water. Thoughtful.
Verdict for Serre
I liked the atmosphere at Serre because, unlike its sister Ciel Bleu, it’s more relaxed and grounded (pun intended). Views of the Amstel are quite stunning, particularly because it’s closer to the quieter part of town and far away from the busyness of the canals. Food is inspired by the Michelin-starred sister on the 23rd floor, but it’s more straightforward and less complicated. Definitely well-deserved Bib Gourmand.
I think it’s a nice place to go with friends and family when you’re out in the Dam.
Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ave spend pp: €60