Not my cup of tea – Foodhallen, Amsterdam / Netherlands

Intro

I had already eaten for lunch. Bad idea when you want to visit the Amsterdam Foodhallen, kind of street food under a roof.

The Foodhallen are located in the heart of the city in De Hallen, a market hall type of complex with all kinds of little non-food stores. The Foodhallen are purely focused on eating on the spot, no produce is being sold.

(Street) Food trends

The New York Times once wrote about the US that “The Food Court Matures Into the Food Hall” indicating that there is a trend among developers to go away from fast food chains and to create food halls which are focusing on (local) artisan restaurants. This is exactly how I would describe the Amsterdam Foodhallen.

I have since some time welcomed and enjoyed street food as it adds new ideas and opportunities to eat quality food, basically always superior to the fast food chains and at a price level below a classic restaurant experience. And the duration of the meal is compatible with impatient teenagers, a relief for families.

But I have become a bit tired of the common street food offerings. I have seen enough burgers, pulled pork, burritos, pizza etc. on street food festivals, more often then necessary also of volatile quality. Saying that, I am still experiencing some great street food like the Bosnian Cevapcici in St. Louis / Missouri (they have opened a restaurant in the mean time), chicken curry at the Borough Market in London or from my perspective the best pizza in Bonn, Germany from PizzaPrinzip which have there base a few steps away from my home :-). But in general I have gotten a bit reserved about it.

What I see is that farmers’ markets and market halls are having more and more street food and less and less produce. As, in general, we want to spend less time for cooking, the street food phenomenon follows the trend of times.

As a fan of good produce I have mixed feelings with this trend. When I first visited the Borough Market in London a few years ago, I was amazed about the variety of products and the mix of very traditional butcher stalls and vegan entrepreneurs. Visiting it in 2019 I saw more street food than produce stalls. For me the charm of the market – its great diversity – got lost. Despite the great curry I ate there.

The foodhallen themselves

I have not counted the stalls there, but there are 21 or so. They are aligned on the sides of the hall, and in the middle there is a long row of tables and chairs to sit down and eat. A clean, pleasant ambiance with a dash of hipsterdom.

The offering did not provide a real surprise, I had the feeling that burgers, pulled pork, sushi, oysters, pizza, Asian style dumplings were dominating. But my eyes certainly overlooked one or two of the 21 food stalls. Independent of the quality of the food itself, it has a rather generic character representing somehow current trends found everywhere. I did not discover any local touch. This would turn this food hall into a distinguishable spot worth making a larger detour. Not to be misunderstood, I am not judging the quality of the individual stalls and their products, it is just that the offering is exchangeable.

The beer offering was wider than in many places I frequent, with a choice of well known craft beer brands. No surprises here as well, but I am already happy when I can spot beers which deserve to be drunk.

Unfortunately I did not discuss with any of the stall owners or staff about the lack of a local touch. Apparently it is just safer meaning more profitable to provide a low risk offering which caters for an international palate. I understand when local business people do not want to take financial risks. But it is a pity in such a creative city as Amsterdam that the demand for more local experiences seem to be so low.

The safe side has one advantage: kids and teenagers will feel comfortable and enjoy the food as the many visiting families I saw there indicated.

All in all: The Amsterdam Foodhallen are not my cup of tea as they lack a true local character, still they provide a much better choice than the usual fast food chains and kids will like it.

A little link list: