Fort Lauderdale, Florida
May 2, 2005
You will have trouble finding a better place to digest the day's or evening's Amsterdam experiences than at the Café Americain at the American Hotel. The brasserie’s terrace spills to the fountain fronting Leidsestraat and is adorned with faux granite tables and stainless steel framed canvas director style chairs. It provides chic juxtaposition against the backdrop of the original café’s almost 15-foot-tall stained-glass windows.
Inside one of the oldest grand cafes in the country (built in 1902), high Venetian arches, Tiffany chandeliers, and art-deco paintings of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream scenes land you in an era gone by. Outside, I noticed many local businesspeople joining friends and colleagues in midday lunch escapes under the café’s sun umbrellas. Writers push pens, tap laptops, sip lattes, and meet friends in one of the most relaxed settings in town.
My favorite dish, which can be ordered for breakfast, lunch, or dinner , is the Salmon Croq: finely sliced smoked salmon grilled between delicate slices of crusted toast, with a spread of creamy cheese, lemon, and garnishes. It became a daily addiction. Dutch fare met an American staple in the club sandwich and tantalized my palate in a way that just doesn’t happen at most diners State-side. The average price for any of the above, including a plate of cookies and a salad — those may serve better to accent your other food than to stand on their own merits — runs about 15 to 18 euros. Throw in a coffee and iced tea, and you are more in the 25-euro area. Remember: there are no such things as refills here.
There is a morning buffet station in the center of the café. Fifteen euros – 2004’s price; it is now eighteen, I am told - welcomes you to an abundantly scrumptious all-you-can-eat affair. Plenty of meats, eggs, fruits, cereals, and fish, especially herring, prepared in a variety of ways — schmaltz, creamed, kippered, and pickled — make it worth the price.
Located where Leidseklade meets the Singelgracht, adjacent to Leidseplein Square, bordering the Museum Quarter, shopping district and Vondelpark, Café American proves to be a great "refueling" station for the day’s activities. The high ratio of outdoor tables to amount of staff available may make service a game of patience during the breakfast and lunch rush hour. The ambience more than makes up for this. The suggestion I have is to enjoy a cup of cappuccino the minute you sit down to help soothe the appetite and pass that relaxing take-it-all-in type of time which Café Americain is perfect for.
From journal Amsterdam: A Week in the Summer