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Broodje Bert - Amsterdam Sandwich Shop Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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The Bottom Line

Amsterdam institution Broodje Bert is a local favorite thanks to its delicious overstuffed sandwiches, served in abundant portions in a cozy, no-frills lunchroom in a convenient, central location.

Pros

  • Fresh, hearty sandwiches a cut above other Amsterdam sandwich shops
  • Centrally located between the 9 Straatjes district and the retail street Kalverstraat
  • One of the best lunch deals in Amsterdam

Cons

  • Seats are limited, and the shop becomes quite crowded around lunchtime

Description

  • Address: Singel 321
    Phone: +31 (0)20 623 0382

  • Location: Western Canal Belt.

  • Directions: From Amsterdam Central Station, take tram 4, 9, 14, 16, 24 or 25 to the Spui stop; make a first right onto Watersteeg, then a second onto Kalverstraat. Continue north to Sint Luciënsteeg and make a left; the street will turn into Rosmarijnsteeg and then Raamsteeg in quick succession. Broodje Bert is on the corner of Raamsteeg and Singel.

  • Attire: Casual.

  • Decor: Simple, no-frills sandwich shop.

  • Payment: Cash only.

Guide Review - Broodje Bert - Amsterdam Restaurant Review

My expectations for sandwich shops in the Netherlands have been calibrated over the years to the typical Dutch standards, and not necessarily for the best - while there are some exceptionally fine bakeries in Amsterdam than churn out an impressive sandwich, such as De Bakkerswinkel in its multiple locations, Dutch sandwich culture is rather uninspired on the whole: monotonous-textured sliced bread or crusty rolls with a few lackluster slices of meat or cheese is par for the course in most establishments, to such an extent that I find I envy even the prewrapped sandwiches of popular UK cafe chains like Pret A Manger.

So it was with considerable surprise when I stopped into Broodje Bert for the first time, skeptical despite all the raves reviews of the sandwich shop, located on a corner between the 9 Straatjes and Kalverstraat. After all, places can be overhyped. Broodje Bert, I learned, isn't. Not only that, it's one of the most no-nonsense, unpretentious local haunts in Amsterdam - precisely why it's filled to the rafters. I squeezed into the narrow joint, with all of about a dozen seats at countertops that line the walls and sandwich bars (there's no room for tables); fortunately there was one seat free between diners. There's no WiFi and certainly no laptop squatters; Broodje Bert is a place where locals and tourists come to focus on food, conversation, and a newspaper at most. I followed suit, and studied the blackboard menu with its selection of cold and hot sandwiches - a standard assortment, none too fancy, which included roast beef, tuna salad, BLTs, and the like. The eponymous broodje Bert was clearly a popular choice with diners, a hot sandwich of lamb meatballs on Turkish bread - a nod to the business's Turkish ownership (also evidenced by the nazars above the counter, the traditional Turkish apotropaic amulet used to ward off the "evil eye") - as was the chicken filet sandwich, another warm option that a nearby diner tucked into with zest; I opted for the oven-warmed Brie and tomato sandwich, plus a slice of apple pie.

As I waited for my order, I studied the interior, which was as cozy as unpretentious as the clientele (and, I would soon learn, the food): a no-frills atmosphere dominated by the wooden sandwich bar, floor and countertops, and ample windows that provided the ideal set-up to people-watch on the typical canal street outside (except that, on this day, the canal street was overtaken with construction). The sandwich bar bustled with non-stop activity, and the staff had downtime on a Friday at 2pm, between eat-in and take-out orders. With a turnover like this, the food had to be fresh.

And it was. Despite the fact that I'd shamelessly eyed my fellow diners' choices, I was still startled by the sheer size of the dish: an open-faced, toasted roll laden with melty Brie and warm tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil that swam with zesty spices, next to an abundant and flavorfully dressed side salad of mixed lettuce, onions, tomatoes and corn. It was worlds apart from the typical Dutch broodje, and so it tasted as well. My enjoyment must have been evident; as the next customers, a Dutch man and woman, stumbled inside from the cold, the woman inquired, "Which sandwich do you have there?" Fully sated by only half a sandwich (small appetites take note: these are dishes best shared), I realized that the addition of the apple pie would be a stretch, but for the purpose of research, I found room for dessert. Served room-temperature, the apple pie was decent, but far less impressive on the whole than their trademark sandwiches - appropriately so, for a sandwich shop and not a bakery; the thick crust had a dense, dry crumb, but the apples inside bore the warm, wintry spices that a Dutch appeltaart should. The portion size was rather excessive, compared to the usual slices proffered at Dutch cafes - another dish best shared.

Come payment time, I discovered yet another of Broodje Bert's numerous pros: the € 7.50 lunch bill would have been cheap as chips in the first place by Dutch standards, let alone for a meal that could easily have sated two of me. Few of the sandwiches exceed the € 5 mark, which makes lunch at Broodje Bert one of the best deals in town. And with its convenient location, on the outskirts of the Western Canal Belt between two of the city's retail hotspots, this atypically stellar example of a Dutch sandwich shop is a place I'll be pleased to frequent in time to come.

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