Angle of Incidence - $19
Gin, Elderflower liqueur, Lime Juice, Apricot and Sparkling Wine
Black Kingfish Ceviche - $15
Daikon, dashi dressing, crunchy quinoa, finger lines
Pork Trotter and Ham Hock Nuggets - $14
with Burnt onion jam
BBQ Scallops - $16
Mango gazpacho, avocado, chilli
Baked Eggplant - $18
Grilled tofu, mushrooms, spiced yogurt
Slow Braised Lamb Neck - $21
Hand rolled spaghetti, turnips, manchego
New York Clam Chowder - $20
Leeks, bacon, potatoes, clam valoute
Dutch potato fries, spiced garlic mayo - $9
Pumpkin Donuts - $12
with Kentucky bourbon cream
I catch up with my friends, Dave and Lib a couple of times a year. I am glad to have met them through food blogging because they're such nice people and I always enjoy their company at the table. Word got around about Nieuw Amsterdam very, very quickly even though they've only been open for a couple of months. I always like the feeling of going to a restaurant not knowing anything about it as it lets me experience everything with a fresh and unadulterated frame of mind. This was one of those instances. In fact, I didn't even know what cuisine it was until I got there.
It wasn't as packed as I expected, which was a nice surprise. Granted, it was a weeknight. Besides that, I must say I quite liked what they've done with the fitout inside. A lot of dark accents in the furniture and light fittings, it felt quite mod. Soft and ambient lighting without being too dim. It was rather modern without feeling too overdone as it still had the laid back feel.
Upon looking at the menu, I was quite intrigued by the selection before me. It all looked really good, but I was still unsure as to what kind of food it was exactly. The waiter later explained that the food was described as "New American" and the restaurant was named after "New Amsterdam", which was what they called the Dutch settlement in New York back in the day (please correct me if I'm wrong). What a unique era in American history to pay homage to through food, I thought... Love it.
In general, the food here was quite delicious. The starters, especially, had a nice play of flavours and was done well. The ceviche was delicate, nuggets were as addictive as they sound and scallops with mango definitely won me over. As for the mains, the lamb was tender and had a pleasantly sweet note from the sauce it was coated in. Chowder was bang full of flavour. Although, I must say that the fries were rather soggy that night.
Winner for me was definitely the vegetarian dish of the night: which was the grilled eggplant with tofu. There were lots of flavours and textures in that dish and I found it to be quite an interactive dish to experience as I was going back for a little bit of this... Then a little bit of that. I really enjoyed it. In fact, I LOVE it when the best dish of a meal turns out to be a vego one. It's not that I don't love vego food (trust me, I do). It's just that when that happens, I find that it challenges my taste buds as it goes against what my narrow mind thinks I would enjoy most (usually meat or fish). Chefs that challenge carnivores like me to experience and appreciate vegetarian dishes to this extent by presenting them in a completely different light, I truly respect. Anyway, I'm not sure if other people would enjoy this dish as much as I did but it was delicious to me.
Oh, and those donuts that we had were pretty damn good too. I liked the crunch on the outside and notes of cinnamon with the pumpkin. Plus, the bourbon cream was seriously light in texture and tasty too. Thank God they didn't skimp on it, as you can see.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed our meal together at Nieuw Amsterdam and can see why this place is becoming increasingly popular. The food and cuisine is interesting and I honestly feel that there is no other restaurant that you can really compare them to, which is great. In terms of "American" cuisine, we have so many restaurants that serve their take on diner burgers or Southern style BBQ already. What the chef has done in creating this new style of food and calling it "New American" just stands out from the crowd. An exciting addition to the Melbourne food scene and I definitely look forward to coming here for a meal again. Congrats to the team for a strong opening, I hope they keep up the good work!