Amsterdam Finds

My first year in Amsterdam has come to an end today and I want to share my favorite restaurant finds. If you know of some more goodies, please leave a comment and share!

First up is pizza. The Dark Angel and I are big fans, and though none of our favorite places are close enough to our place for take out or delivery, they are good enough to rate a night out. My three way tie for pizza goes to De Pizza Bakkers, Yam Yam, and Le 4 Stagioni. Pizza Bakkers have real pepperoni which is hard to find in this town plus several pizzas with truffle oil, Yam Yam has incredible tira misu for dessert and truffle oil on a few of the pizzas, and Le 4 Stagioni has real Italians (though call ahead because we passed by a week ago and they appear to be under construction).

A Saturday wouldn’t be complete without lunch at De Soepwinkel. The things they can do with a ladle. From Mushroom Chickpea to Lamb Apricot to Chicken Tikka – we’ve not had a bad soup here. Paired with a quiche lorraine and chocolate cake or cherry cheesecake you may be moved to tears. This is what I imagine the food would be like if I lived in a commune.

If you like middle eastern food we’re lucky enough to live around the corner from a really delish place: Revan. Two things make this place special – first are the warm stuffed grape leaves (as opposed to cold – so much better warm) and for the Dark Angel real Knaffe which is a dessert made of warm cheese topped with angel hair pastry and a sugar syrup. It’s not my favorite but he goes nuts for it. Then all of the salads and kebabs are very tasty.

This may seem a strange pick when you walk in, but Wok to Home is hands down the best noodle place in the city. The Dark Angel used to live above this place and now that we’ve moved in together in a different neighborhood we’ve tried without success to replace it with something closer. Make sure to get the Chinese noodles with either the oyster sauce or the szechuan sauce (spicy). The place is a hole in the wall, but the people are friendly and you can eat there or the noodles stay hot if you pedal fast.

Next up is Cafe George. They have a really nice bistro atmosphere and in nicer weather the six two-tops out front over looking the canal are the place to be. They have a nice club sandwich and burger but the best thing about Cafe George is that it’s the only place (I know at least) that has seasoned curly fries.

I finally went to Door 74 recently. Really great atmosphere and excellent, creative cocktails. Because they work on a reservation system you actually get a place to sit. It’s not very well marked and the door next to it has a funny little sign that says “this is not Door 74, honest” which is amusing.

And last but not least is Kitsch on Utrechtstraat. I’ve only eaten here during restaurant week so it was a set menu but was very nice. What I like best about Kitsch are the sgroppinos. These are lemon gelato/vodka/sparkling wine concoctions that go down great with a group of friends in their animal print booth.

That’s all I have for now, but I’ve tried so many places and been disappointed so I’m hoping you have some other favorites to add to my list.

Want to work in Europe?

Seems a lot of people do because I’m getting a load of emails lately asking me how I got over here, if I have any advice and if I know any recruiters. So I thought I would share what I know.

Having an EU passport would make your wish a reality a lot faster. It does cost the company money to obtain a work permit and involves quite a few man hours to maneuver through bureaucracy. Plus, if you are fresh out of school legally it is not possible to prove to the government that no suitable candidate could be found in the country or EU.

Language skills are also very valuable, but you need to be totally fluent in order to operate “in country.” International work is done in English, so you’ve still got a shot if you are not multi-lingual. I speak some Spanish and know a few phrases in other lanuages but do not use this in my work other than building rapport. London is the largest English speaking/working market, but not the only place to go. Amsterdam for example has about 30 or so international (thus working-in-English) planners. I imagine that there are jobs like these in most major cities but there probably aren’t a lot – I’ve only met a handful. Having good agency experience and client experience will help. Having Crispin on my resume really helped DDB take the chance on me given I didn’t have much in the way of international experience before I moved.

I got really lucky and was asked to come over based on the exposure I had through the survey. But I was aiming to live over seas for 2-3 years before I came here. I was looking into the peace corps/foreign service and had thought I decided to take a year off and travel through South America. I was saving money for this plan, my boss at Crispin knew that’s what I wanted, and I had been aiming for May of 2010 to do it. But then the opportunity at DDB arose to come to Amsterdam and I had to jump on it. I am a big believer in leap and the net will appear. If you somehow get the opportunity, go for it.

I’m willing to connect people via LinkedIn who have taken the survey. If you and I are linked, you can look through my connections, craft your note and ask me to forward it – all in LinkedIn. I’m afraid I can’t do much more than push the “please forward” button.

*Update* – whenever people tell me about jobs and ask if I know anyone, I post it as a gig alert on Twitter. So if you want to know what I do, follow me (@hklefevre).

And last, here are a couple of recruiters who I have heard good things about.

Trevor Cook
TDA Digital
Office: +44 207 382 7483
Mobile: +44 7824 874 133

Nick Grime
LIZH, 61-63 Beak Street, London W1F 9SL

T: +44 (0)20 7437 7863

M:+ 44 (0)7968 695 350


I wish you lots of luck in reaching your dreams. It has been really satisfying for me – in fact, I’m not sure I will ever return to the States…