Amsterdam’s newest culinary hotspot
TEXT: PAOLA WESTBEEK | PHOTOS © THE FOOD DEPARTMENT
The sumptuous Magna Plaza, one of the top 100 Dutch UNESCO monuments, is now home to The Food Department. With 14 diverse food stands and three drinks bars, the Dutch capital’s newest culinary hotspot promises to tempt locals and tourists with everything from freshly shucked oysters to Amsterdam’s best burgers.
The location alone couldn’t have been more spectacular. Situated in one of Amsterdam’s most iconic buildings, is a gourmet wonderland where some of the city’s finest food entrepreneurs have gathered in a space that’s as pleasing to the eye as their creations are to the palate. It’s hard to believe that the windows of the second floor in the Magna Plaza (an imposing shopping mall on the back of Dam Square and originally Amsterdam’s main post office) had remained closed for years, blocking off some of the most spectacular views over the heart of the city. After a complete renovation, however, the area is now flooded with light and the perfect spot to enjoy great food while admiring panoramic vistas.
Photo: Dennis Bouman
Behind this exciting food hub are Laurens van Rooijen and Edwin Spier. According to Van Rooijen, The Food Department should not be confused with a food court, which is complementary to shops. “We are a food hall, and therefore, a destination in itself. Though we are located in a shopping centre, we do not only focus on people who go there to shop. This is a place where you can head to for dinner on a Friday night. Our focus is foodies.”
Catering to the millions who pass by annually, The Food Department aims to appeal to both travellers and city dwellers. Especially important, says Van Rooijen, was to find “a small selection of Amsterdam’s finest food concepts”. Though the kitchens are very diverse (you’ll find tacos, sushi, French pastries, seafood and more), they are all representative of the best that Amsterdam has to offer. “It’s high-quality food at reasonable prices,” adds Van Rooijen.
The Food Department’s three attractive bars serve everything from a good cup of coffee to a zesty smoothie or refreshing cocktail, making it a great place to meet friends for drinks or stop for a break while shopping or sightseeing. The Food Department is, in fact, a miniature version of Amsterdam condensed into 1,100 square metres. Passion for refined cuisine, an invitingly casual ambiance and awesome views make this a must-see for anyone visiting the Dutch capital.
Edwin Spier (left) and Laurens van Rooijen.