lifestyle / raw / review / vegan cafe

Amsterdam Review: Zest for Life

We peered into the kitchen through the service window and were met with a cheery greeting from the chef inside who questioned ‘where did you come from?’, we told him of the show at the Stedelijk Museum we had so enjoyed and he immediately responded excitedly ‘Yes, I really want to go see the machines!’, the art of the infamous swizz artist Tinguely we had just been lit up by. I was pleased our food would be prepared by such an enthusiastic being, as for me, the energy of the kitchen is key to the experience you receive through the food, the love and care being paramount to the goodness passed through to the body.

We eagerly perused the menu and choose a wrap with a homemade spicy pumpkin ‘tortilla’ and a zucchini noodle pad Thai Our berry blast smoothie arrived in a glass carafe that we shared in squat little glasses. Sweetened with dates it was tart and very thick with fruit.

The main dishes arrived in good time and I was actually pleasantly surprised by the portion sizes. This being a raw place they were both served at room temperature which is pretty much perfect for the body to assimilate although it takes some getting used to psychologically for someone who’s more used to hot steamy plates of food. For me, being in the warm space was enough and I felt more and more satisfied and nourished at each bite, our conversation mostly consisting of moans of appreciation. The pad thai was creamy, slightly lemony and the noodles had been well marinated in the peanut sauce, it was generously filled with hunks of soft avocado and crunchy cashew pieces. The wrap was well filled with its various veg and a well-dressed salad, the dehydrated casing living up to its name and keeping it all together nicely.

Then came my favourite part of a raw vegan feast; desert! As per usual, a lot were made with pecans and walnuts, which I have an allergy to, but luckily the cheesecake base was almond and date. We started with the lemon, which was served on a cute vintage plate and drizzled with a berry sauce. It was truly decadent, creamy but firm, with a subtle lemon bite. I was pretty well sated at this point but Nathanael was aching to try the chocolate version so I took one for the team. The chocolate version was even better with a base of avocado and perfectly sweet balanced with the dark cacao, it felt a little less rich and so we finished it off easily with relish, not leaving a scrape on the plate.


We finished up right when they were closing; the place still had a few loiterers so we didn’t feel rushed to exit. The whole time there had been a nice buzzy atmosphere. We had a nice parting conversation with the chef, thanking him for his work and he recommending us a visit into Slovenia, his home country. I’m sure he is quite the anomaly out there in what I would think of as a pretty traditional country eating wise. Perhaps that is why we find him performing his magic in this wonderful eccentric melting pot of culture that is The Dam.

Van Baerlestraat, 45, AmsterdamNetherlands,1071 AP

Vegan and raw food cafe. Open Tue-Fri 8:00am-6:00pm, Sat-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm

Zest for Life website


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