Its dramatic mountain vistas are a world apart from the stubbornly sea-level Netherlands, but if there's one way to conjure the atmosphere of Switzerland in the Netherlands, it's the country's food traditions. Swiss food is renowned the world over, and it's particularly popular in Amsterdam, which has a handful of Swiss restaurants and even some dedicated fondue specialists. Find out where to try Swiss classics in and around Amsterdam in this list of recommended restaurants.
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(0)20 622 00 34
Kitchen open daily, 6pm to 11pm.
While fondue is claimed as one of the national dishes of Switzerland (an honor sometimes shared with rösti), the dish is closely associated with the city of Bern in particular. The aptly-named Café Bern is my pick for local fondue specialist - not only because it's conveniently located, on a far corner of the Nieuwmarkt, but also because their cheese fondue is easily one of the best in town. And fondue is pretty much all this cozy, dark restaurant serves, so sidle up to one of the communal tables and wait the caquelon of boozy cheese sauce to arrive.
There are a few other dishes, especially for kids, who - a server once told me - aren't particularly fond of the restaurant's alcohol-laced specialty. Salads and simple pasta dishes will sate anyone who's not in the mood to partake in fondue, but don't expect to find polenta or even raclette; Bern means fondue, first and foremost.
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Hendrik Jonkerplein 1
(0)20 623 87 21
Kitchen open daily, 6pm to 10pm.
't Blaauwhooft is actually not a Swiss restaurant at all - but it merits a spot on this list because of its superlative fondue.
Well off the beaten track, this typical bruin café is located on the secluded Bickers Island in the city's Western Docklands, north of the railroad tracks that form the northern boundary of the Haarlemmerbuurt. Tourists don't usually venture into this neck of the woods - unless they want what Dutch newspaper Het Parool has deemed the best fondue in Amsterdam. (Funnily, neither Café Maxwell, at #2 on their list, or Het Wapen van Diemen, at #3, are Swiss restaurants either; Café Bern, above, was demoted for poor service.)
Besides its acclaimed, kirsch-spiked fondue, the restaurant prides itself on its satay (or sate) - Indonesian skewered meat served with peanut sauce - and a daily menu that rotates seasonal dishes from mussels to ostrich steak.
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(0)20 612 91 04
Open daily, 6pm to 1am.
Fondue & Fondue - as the name implies - is a fondue specialist that opened due north of the Vondelpark in 2011. One of the most centrally-located restaurants on this list, it's ideally situated for dinner after a day at the Museumplein; it's a scenic 20-minute stroll across the park from square to restaurant.
Diners can choose from four varieties of fondue, plus a chocolate fondue for dessert. The meat fondue consists of veal, round steak, tenderloin and chicken breast; the fish fondue, a trio of salmon, tuna and shrimp. The cute, homey interior is a far cry from the bruin café atmosphere of favorites 't Blaauwhoofd and Café Bern, but with its exposed brick and subway tiles, it duly reflects the aesthetic sensibility of some of the city's hippest new restaurants.
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Julianaplein 53, 1949 AT Wijk aan Zee
(0)251 37 50 90
Open daily from 5pm.
Another Swiss enclave in an unexpected location, Restaurant Klein Zwitserland (Little Switzerland Restaurant) is the only one on this list outside the city borders - but it's also the only one where visitors will find Swiss classics like Züricher geschnetzeltes, thinly-sliced tenderloin bathed in a white wine and cream reduction and served with rösti. There's also classic fondue, and a variety of continental dishes with a clear emphasis on meat and seafood - don't trek out here on Meatless Monday.
Wijk aan Zee is a lovely coastal town on the North Sea. Visitors should take the Sprinter train (direction: Hoorn) to Beverwijk, then transfer to bus 78; the bus stops directly on Julianaplein.