When I travel somewhere new, especially now we have children, I like to spend a little bit of time before I go checking out potential places to eat. Nowadays we don’t just have our rumbling stomachs to worry about, we need to factor in child friendly eateries, fussy children not particularly wanting to sample the local cuisine and whether a place has high chairs or space for our buggy. But just because we do have small people in tow, doesn’t mean we want to eat at an overpriced tourist restaurant or run of the mill chain group.
On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I was delighted to discover Pllek, apparently a best kept secret off the beaten track and frequented by locals, but also child friendly and with a cool and creative vibe. This sounded perfect so we duly hopped on a ferry to check it out.
Yes, you do have to cross water to get to Pllek, but to us this sounded like the perfect little adventure. Based in the Amsterdam Noord NDSM area of the city, apparently it’s something of a mystery to most Amsterdammers. The area is what I can only describe as urban, you step of the boat and think you are on a film set, yet is one of the most creative and unique parts of Amsterdam. Until the 1980’s there was a shipyard here, and some of the old buildings are deserted, with abandoned boats, graffiti and colourful street art everywhere and huge old industrial buildings with broken windows. However look a little deeper and you will find that MTV Europe was so convinced that this area was up and coming that they revamped one of the old places for their European Headquarters and that the area is actually a city sponsored art community- indeed my husband is obsessed with street art which is another reason why we visited.
Which brings us to Pllek. (Website in Dutch) Based on the waters edge in what can only be described as industrial shipping containers, at first glance it looks a little bit like you have come to the wrong place. Entering via a side door, for a brief second we wondered whether to go in at all.
But walk down the corridor and you soon are greeted by some amazingly cool decor, including disco balls, lots of corrugated iron and little areas where you sit on blocks with cushions on. It also has a pretty cool terrace with fantastic views over to Amsterdam, indeed it was full when we arrived and it was only 11.30am. The clientele were mostly Dutch, with lots of children and ‘cool’ families, although Pllek does transform into a club at night.
There was an extensive drinks menu, with smoothies, juices and your other usual drinks, as well as a great wine list. The lunch menu was small but with plenty of variety. I had the falafel on sour dough bread with a tomato salsa, my husband had a burger and the girls had the ‘children’s sandwich’. On asking what the sandwich was, we had a funny moment where the barman couldn’t translate it, so he said it basically is ‘brown sugar’, we wondered what on earth it was going to be and when it arrived it made us laugh because it indeed was like brown sugar cereal bits and butter on bread- both my girl’s adored them and thought they were delicious!
The lunch menu prices were reasonable, with a burger costing about €8 and the kids sandwich costing €2.50, our whole meal including drinks came to just over 30 euros, which isn’t too bad really. The food was tasty, the service was great and the vibe was right up our street. It was really child friendly, with lots of other little people there, and crayons to keep them entertained.
Pllek definitely gets the thumbs up from us. We visited on a Saturday but apparently on Sunday afternoons they have live music and DJ’s, and I would love to come back one day and visit in the evening without children. It’s relatively easy to get to, just hop on the free ferry behind the back of Amsterdam Centraal station, making sure you get on the one going to ‘NSDM-Werf’. It takes about 15 minutes and they run back and forth all day. From there it’s signposted if you look carefully and is about a 5 minute walk.
I’m so glad we went off the beaten track a little and headed somewhere to get a glimpse of where certain locals frequent. The NDSM area of Amsterdam Noord certainly wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but if you like street art, creativity and a slight bit of urban grit, I would definitely recommend a visit.
(PS I found out about Amsterdam Noord via this lovely little blog I Love Noord– be sure to check it out!)
Address- TT Neveritaweg 59, Amsterdam.