Tips from a local: Aaf in Watergraafsmeer

Aaf brandt corstiusAaf Brandt Corstius is a mother of two and a well-known Dutch writer and columnist. She lives in the once rural Watergraafsmeer, where many rich city merchants had their country seats in the 17th century. Nowadays, the rural character has all but disappeared and Watergraafsmeer is part of trendy East Amsterdam, where many hip and special places can be found. Aaf is always in the know about the best addresses for delicious food or cool fashion, so I’m really excited for her local tips below:

1. Best date night restaurant: The Lobby in Fizeaustraat. This restaurant (and hotel) opened a while ago and has since been the favorite haunt of myself and many neighbors. It has very good food, really nice service, a crackling fire and plenty of privacy while also being busy enough to be very cosy. You can also just hang at the bar or have breakfast there (quite special, still, in Amsterdam).

2. Favourite family-friendly dinner spot: Polder is situated in an old farmhouse, on a meadow, with actual chickens wandering around! Service is very family friendly and the menu has a lot of children’s options (like Dutch pancakes!). Let the kids play soccer outside while you have one of their lovely beers. Or the fondue!

3. Cosiest local cafe (or best place to grab a take-away!): The absolute best take away comes from Kediri, an Indonesian place. Every other Sunday evening or so, when we are tired of entertaining the kids and catering to everyone in the weekend, we call ahead to order a ‘rijsttafel Kediri’ and feast on the saté, veggies and baked bananas.
Bedford Stuyvesant has very good coffee and great sandwiches (my favorite is goat cheese with red beets), and they don’t mind at all if you bring the kids, in fact they have some little ‘roads’ to play with cars on the walls and lots of toys. It’s mini Brooklyn in the East of Amsterdam.

4. Trusted children’s shop: Lemonade on the Middenweg is nice, they have wonderful clothes and shoes, and they also do some gifts and home stuff. Many times, the shop dog is laying around, which is an extra attraction for the kids while shopping. They also have some typical Dutch brands like Imps & Elfs.

5. Favourite women’s shop: Biggles. Practically enough, it’s right across the road from Lemonade (the kids shop), with many Scandinavian and Dutch brands (Oh My Bag, Anecdote). Beautiful shoes and bags too, and a great sale every now and then. I go here whenever I need something special for work, but also for good shirts and jeans. Also, I recenly discovered Div, a very spacious, white, gallery-like clothing store in the Javastraat (a very up and coming street), with great sneakers and clothes. And cool jewelry too! The gentleman’s store (as they call it) is a bit further up the street.

6. Coolest local playground: Mariottenplein is one of the favorites of my kids and very close to our house. A full square filled with a playground, surrounded by nice houses. I joined the group of parents who make sure the little house on the playground is manned during summer weekend days, and we sell ice cream and coffee there. Nothing better than running your own ‘cafe’ so the kids love it when we have duty in the playground. Also, the playground in Frankendael Park is very idyllic, because there is an old factory with a stork nest right by it!

7. Favourite food shop: Daily Delis has the best fresh bread and a great cheese department (and wine and nuts and sweet goodies). Helal et Gida is my favorite greengrocer, they get the most wonderful fruit and vegetables. Cees de Bouter is our free range butcher shop, and you can also buy whole meals and soups there.

8. Best shop for homewares, fun finds, or special gifts: Java Book Shop is a great independent book shop to browse with very personable owners, and they also have a good children’s part where kids can sit down and read. En Klevering on Middenweg is my favorite for gifts, I can always find something there really quickly.

9. Local activity center or museum: I love the Tropenmuseum, a museum on other cultures and countries. My daughter Rifka and I especially love the craft corner there on weekends, recently we made a Moroccan lamp.

10. Favourite park or outdoor space: Park Frankendael is my absolute favorite. It’s not huge, but never crowded, it has two playgrounds, a very good restaurant in a greenhouse (De Kas, they also get their veggies from the greenhouse itself!), and Merkelbach, which is a beautiful cafe in an old manor, great to have lunch or dinner of sit outside on the most beautiful terrace of Amsterdam while your kids run around the park. Also cute are the ‘school gardens’ in the park, where kids of our and other schools tend totheir own little gardens.


Comments (1)

March 17, 2017

For top quality nuts and dried fruits, C’est Bon on Hogeweg (just a few minutes from Cees de Bouter) is wonderful. They give children fantastic big blue raisins that are so plump and juicy.

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