Helden (Dutch for ‘Heroes’) is located in one of the busiest streets of the Pijp. This area, with its high concentration of bars and restaurants, is located south of the main tourist area, just behind Marie Heinekenplein and within easy walking distance of Museumplein. Helden is right in the centre of this popular district, a couple of streets north of Albert Cuypstraat, home of Amsterdam’s largest street market.
Helden is open for lunch, evening meals and has a bar serving food both inside and on the outdoor terrace until late. We managed to squeeze into a table outside, then placed our order around 9:30pm on a Saturday night, and they seemed in no rush to close the kitchens. Menus are available in both English and Dutch.
Lunch is served until 4pm, and they offer a range of sandwiches (€5 – €6.50) and there are two salad options (€7 – €8.50). Toasted sandwiches (€3) and hot dishes ae also available, including soup of the day (€4.50) and pasta of the day (€8.50).
The evening menu starts from 5.30, with starters ranging from soup to raw beef carpaccio served with truffle mayonnaise with pine kernels and parmesan, or a chicken caesar salad (€6 – €8.00). Main courses include stewed beef with tomato sauce, potato and beans (€15.50) or fish of the day at a varying price.
We skipped starters but went for the veggie pasta (€14.50) and grilled steak with chips, salad and pepper sauce (€17.50). The pasta was flavoured with cumin, served on a bed of smoked aubergine paste, tossed together with spinach and goat’s cheese. Individually the strong flavours were delicious, but when combined were somewhat overwhelming. The only other veggie alternative was the potato-based ravioli served with broad beans and peas from the starter menu (€8) which was also available on request as a main course. The steak was more satisfying, a grilled entrecote served alongside a tasty pepper sauce with side bowls of potatoes and a cucumber and walnut based salad. We finished off with a chocolate terrine plus hazelnut ice-cream and a hangop (thick creamy yoghurt) with strawberries, both at €6.
The bar serves the full range of drinks as well as nibbles and sharing plates. White wine starts at €3.50 per glass or €17.50 per bottle for a South African Chenin Blanc, to €46 per bottle for a French Puilly Fumé. Reds start from a French Merlot / Grenache for €4 per glass or €19.50 per bottle to €39 for a Chilean Escudo Rojo. Rosé, Prosecco and champagne is also on the list. Cocktails like raspberry mojito are served by the glass (€7) or pitcher (€31) and beer is available either in bottles or on tap.
Our total bill came to just over €52 for two main courses, two desserts, beer and soft drinks.
Helden serves food late, and at weekends the bar stays open until 3am. Food was tasty and reasonably priced, but the restaurant did prompt a common complaint raised by both native Dutch and international diners in Amsterdam – the length of time it can take before the staff either take your order or process your payment. We paid by card and waited more than 20 minutes after finishing our meal before they were able to bring out the card-reader. This is not too unusual for Amsterdam, however, where people often sit and chat for some time after a meal, especially in a venue which also operates as a bar. So a pleasant venue, and somewhere you might want to spend the whole evening, but perhaps not the place to choose if you expect service in a hurry.