Set on the edge of the Bickers suburbs, a promenade of treasures awaits where a fusion of Asian and Dutch cuisine come to life! Bickers aan de Werf, a married-Dutch-couple-owned restaurant, becomes our home for the afternoon.
Situated at the beautiful marina and promenade at Westerdok, this treasure still remains Bickers neighbourhood’s best-kept secret. Husband and wife Raymond and Danielle are a chef/management dream team, and it’s easy to see why!
Escape the busy streets of Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s sun is shining in all its glory as the lunchtime rush starts to slow down. Guests are still basking, wine glass in hand. And floating oh-so-coolly amongst them all is Danielle van IJken; one half of the dream team. She welcomes us with all the grace in the world and settles us nicely on the corner of the terrace. The location is stunning; boats of all shapes and sizes fill the marina like some sort of Dutch picturesque postcard. It’s hard to think that less than a kilometre away lies the busy streets of the main city of Amsterdam. However, it’s the faint echo of the local children playing at the floating kid’s playground that replace the “ding-ding” of the infamous Amsterdam trams, and the silent purr of motorboats passing that replace the hustle and bustle of crowded streets of the city centre. A well-appreciated change for those that are needing somewhat of an escape.
Feeling at home
Danielle is the perfect host, graciously taking our coffee order and yet apologising that the promenade is still so busy at this time. We don’t mind, our little location in the corner allows us to take in the ambience and the scenery to its full tilt. People watching cannot get better than this either! Within a few minutes, cappuccinos have arrived and Danielle sits next to us and we immediately feel like we're part of the community. Being at the forefront of the restaurant, Danielle has mastered the art of making her guests feel right at home!
But Danielle hasn’t always been in the restaurant sector, having been in the medical business. It seemed only natural for her hospitable instincts to go into this business. Her husband, Raymond, has had an extensive 37 years in the culinary industry. The next step seemed only obvious. And how glad we are that they did! “If you don’t like your job, then why do it?” is Danielle’s motto, and after 14 years of ownership of Bickers a/d Werf, Danielle and Raymond clearly love what they do.
Art on a plate
We get onto food next, as we see guests being served what can only be described as art on a plate. Danielle tells us that all their ingredients are locally sourced. The meat is from a local Jordaan neighbourhood butcher (who coincidently is there at the same time as us, delivering his crate-loads of fine meats in his butcher's jacket), as well as fresh cream and other fresh dairy products. Their fish (and lots of it we might add) is brought in fresh every day, a “sea to table” concept that Raymond is fanatical about. Their loyalty with their local suppliers stands firm, even vegetables and fruits are unearthed in local Dutch soils!
Raymond and Danielle come from a big family themselves, therefore they often have their own family gatherings at the restaurant. Bread and wine are shared, with a selection of wines from Germany, Asia, Austria, Argentina, Spain the South of France, Italy, and even the Dutch wine regions. Danielle, herself, is a whiskey lover and imports them from distilleries within the region. Raymond and Danielle have impeccable taste, and they often invite patrons over for their beer-, wine- and whiskey pairing evenings. With fountains of knowledge and 14 years in the restaurant game, they have mastered it.
Whilst we are talking, we are invited to watch Raymond in his element as he makes us his “Charlie's Heaven”, named after a guest who specifically asked for a meal that would suffice his diet. Thus, Charlie's Heaven was born! An odd combination that normally involves the Asian way of sticky rice. But Raymond has his own ideas, producing a dish that not only is a pleasure to all senses, but it makes sense; tuna sashimi on a bed of rocket with Raymond’s special dressing, topped with freshly grilled prawns. A dish so simple but effective, scouts honour we tried it and it was delicious!
Part of the community
Bickers a/d Werf is truly a hidden gem. A restaurant that is part of a community of café’s, restaurants and businesses and throughout their 14-year reign, they have yet to have a quiet season. Strange to think this when the Bickers neighbourhood is somewhat remote from the rest of Amsterdam, but you know it’s there, hiding away with its enticing smells and good nature. “We often have many visitors for Yays Zoutkeetsgracht and Yays Bickersgracht as both locations are so close by! Of course, we are featured in the Yays Neighbourhood guide so we welcome visitors with open arms!” says Danielle.
After a very satisfactory afternoon at the marina, it is now time for us to wave goodbye to Danielle and Raymond at the wonderful Bickers a/d Werf. It has been such an experience and we can only recommend this hospitable establishment over and over again. They are open five days a week, except Mondays and Tuesdays. For a glass of wine on the water, lunch, to a three-course Asian/Dutch fusion meal, you cannot go wrong!
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