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No extra ten percent is needed here - most Amsterdammers simply round up the change in restaurants to the nearest five guilders for large bills and to the nearest guilder for smaller ones. A hearty Dutch breakfast consists of breads (wholemeal, nut, rye or even raisin), accompanied by wafer-thin slices of local cheeses and cold meats, appelstroop (a thick syrup made from concentrated apple juice), hagelslag (grated chocolate) or a combination of any of these. Dutch coffee is strong, while tea is usually weak and drunk without milk.

Lunch is likely to be a sandwich or, particularly in winter, erwtensoep, a thick broth of split peas and chunks of smoked sausage. Another possibility is uitsmijter, bread covered with sliced ham or roast beef, grated cheese and a couple of fried eggs. The main meal of the day is usually eaten in the early evening. Dutch food tends to err on the heavy side. A traditional dish is stamppot (mashing pot), made from boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed with fried bacon and served with smoked rookworst sausage. Potatoes are a Dutch staple and can be a meal in themselves; frites, served with mayonnaise, are popular.

Specialities include smoked eel, raw herring (usually eaten whole with chopped onions), bitterballen (deep fried meatballs) and stroopwafels (thin waffles sandwiched together with a cinnamon-spiced syrup, best eaten piping-hot from a street stall).

Indonesian food, thanks to Dutch colonial links, is almost considered to be part of the national cuisine. Rijsttafel is a delicious and colourful array of 20 spicy treats, including satays, which are served with rice and - most often - lots of Dutch beer.

As a point of etiquette, it is worth nothing that the Dutch tend to eat everything, including sandwiches, with a knife and fork. Drinking in Amsterdam is a centuries old tradition, so it is no surprise that the locals have an extensive vocabulary to order a glass of beer or genever (Dutch gin). The most common word for a glass of genever is borrel, but recht op en neer (straight up and down) and kamelenrug (camel's back) - used to indicate a glass of genever filled to the brim - are also popular terms. Beer, served with a modest head, in a small glass is known as kabouter pils (dwarf beer), while a large glass is known as a vaas (vase). There are more than a thousand restaurants in Amsterdam, so diners can be assured of plenty of choice, with French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Russian, Turkish, Irish and Japanese cuisine all represented.

There is a concentration of restaurants in the city centre (main areas/streets), but there are also small neighbourhood restaurants to be found, which serve high-quality food. The Dutch eat early, so restaurants tend to close earlier than in other countries - some kitchens close at 2130. Those wishing to pay by credit card should always check that they are accepted before sitting down. Smoking/non-smoking areas are not the norm.

All prices in the Netherlands include tax and tips by law. However, in restaurants, even though service charge is included, is normal to give an overtip of about 5% - of course only when you are happy with meal and service. Normal Dutch practice is to round up to the nearest guilder for small amounts, such as coffees, and up to the nearest five for larger amounts, such as a meal.

With more than a thousand restaurants to choose from in Amsterdam, you are spoiled for choice. Many have terraces on the side of the canals, or for the ultimate in romantic dining, choose a restaurant with a floating terrace. Dutch cuisine reflects contemporary international influences and restaurants often have a wide range of dishes on the menu.

La Rive (French)
Amstel Inter-Continental, Prof Tulpplein 1, 1018 GX Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 622 60 60 Fax: +31 20 622 58 08
Awarded two Michelin stars, La Rive's menu is a superb combination of French and Mediterranean cuisine.
Open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner and Saturday for dinner only.

Christophe (French)
Leliegracht 46, 1015 DH Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 625 08 07 Fax: +31 20 638 91 32
Classic French cuisine with a Mediterranean influence. The interior design is by William Katz, famous for his ballet scenery.
Closed Sunday and Monday for lunch. Jacket preferred.

Vermeer (European)
Hotel Barbizon Palace, Prins Hendrikkade 59-72, 1012 AD Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 556 48 85 Fax: +31 20 624 33 53
This magnificent dining room is vast with high ceilings, pillars, tall plants, crisp linen, wooden furniture and a conservatory ambience. Extremely light and airy with superb European cuisine and excellent, subtle service.

Restaurant Excelsior (French)
Hotel de l'Europe, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2 - 8, 1012 CP Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 531 17 05 Fax: +31 20 531 17 78
Commanding one of the best views in Amsterdam over the Amstel River, the majestic chandeliered dining room with its potted palms, candelabra and grand piano is the perfect setting for a relaxing meal. There is a choice of five fixed-price menus as well as а la carte from a variety of traditional French dishes. Awarded a Michelin star.
Open Sunday to Friday for lunch and dinner; Saturday dinner only. Jacket and tie.

Lucius (Seafood)
Spuistratt 247, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 624 18 31
Serving only seafood, Lucius is one of Amsterdam’s finest fish restaurants. Its dishes range from the simple to the adventurous, all prepared to the diner's taste. There is a good selection of wines including a Dutch wine.
Open Monday to Saturday for dinner only.

d’ Vijff Vlieghen (Local)
Spuistraat 294 - 302, 1012 VX Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 624 83 69 Fax: +31 20 623 64 04
Serves 'New Dutch' cuisine with fresh organically grown produce.

Cafe Roux (French)
The Grand Hotel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 197, 1012 EX Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 555 35 60 Fax: +31 20 555 32 22
European cuisine, predominantly French with a unique twist. Cafй Roux is very popular with the locals of Amsterdam who enjoy the relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Booking is therefore essential.

't Swarte Schaep (Local)
1st floor, Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 24, 1017 RC Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 622 30 21 Fax: +31 20 624 82 68
Intimate surroundings overlooking Amsterdam's Leidseplein. Low, beamed ceilings hung with copper cooking utensils and walls covered in Dutch art create a traditional setting for this superb restaurant that stays open unusually late. Food orders are taken up until eleven o' clock. Traditional French cuisine and contemporary creations are equally tempting.

De Silveren Spiegel (Local)
Kattengat 4-6, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 624 65 89
This cosy, crooked house dating back to the seventeenth century provides an intimate, warm environment in which diners can enjoy the finest quality local ingredients cooked with French overtones. Fresh 'game' is a speciality during the season whilst local lamb is always a highlight of the menu. It is necessary to book at least one day in advance. Closed on Sunday.

Lonny's (Indonesian
Rozengracht 46-48, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 623 89 50
Chef Lonny Gerungan's family hailed from Bali where they naturally embraced the flavours and cooking styles of Indonesia. Thankfully the tradition thrives in his Balinese restaurant where the walls are hung with silks and waiters wear sarongs. The speciality, 'selamatan puri gede' is a buffet, Bali style, entailing a large selection of meat, vegetable, fish and rice dishes.

Pier 10 (Local
De Ruyterkade Steiger 10, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 624 82 76
Originally a shipping office, Pier 10 sits on the edge of the pier behind Central Station. Chef, Steve Muzerie is particularly inventive, creating seemingly impossible concoctions that are invariably delicious. Special seating in the glass room to the rear of the restaurant allows a romantic view of the distant harbour.

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