When Ron Blaauw announced the closure of his two Michelin-starred restaurant, the news spread like a wildfire. Saying that he had enough of the pressure and unwritten rules that come with the Michelin’s coveted stars, he then opened Ron Gastrobar. Some observers speculated Blaauw had run into financial problems and was therefore unable to continue operating at this level. Whatever the reasons, Ron Gastrobar is certainly very different to his former restaurant, and it feels like the chefs’ creativity has been let loose (in a good way!). Gone are the days when luxury products made up the bulk of the menu; Blaauw now serves a lot of vegetables and less expensive fish and meat. The results are often dishes that are unlike anything we have been served in Amsterdam before.
Looking at the cooking and concept of Ron Gastrobar it bears similarities with Geist in Copenhagen and other restaurants of this kind that serve quirky food in casual surroundings. What makes Ron Gastrobar stand out in Amsterdam is the fact that you can pretty much walk in at any point during the afternoon (or evening) and eat. This flexibility is great in a city, in which it is difficult to find good food outside of normal meal times. To make things easy for the customers, Blaauw’s menu is priced at €15/dish. Most dishes feature no more than four products, maximising flavour with relatively simple ingredients, such as barbequed cabbage comes filled with bone marrow. This is a magnificent combination, where the rich bone marrow adds extra depth to the subtly smoky, juicy, crunchy cabbage.
For those lusting after something more substantial, Blaauw offers a variety of cuts of dry-aged beef, grilled over charcoal and served with chips and béarnaise. The Holstein beef is spectacular, being juicy and brimming with flavour. The best thing to do if you come for a meal, is to order a couple of small plates, and have the beef as a main course, as you will otherwise be left with a fairly hefty bill and not all that much food.
Ron Gastrobar is a great addition to Amsterdam’s restaurant scene, not only is its food excellent, but the flexible opening times and simple menu structure make it unique in the city.