Address: Westerstraat 86, 1015 MN Amsterdam
Cuisine Type: Spanish
External Links Tapasbar / Restaurant Paso Doble
Situated in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, a short walk from the Anne Frank House, the Wetserkerk and the Norderkerk, Paso Doble prides itself on offering diners ‘the ultimate Spanish feeling in The Netherlands’ and on being one of the most popular and sociable tapas bars in Amsterdam.
We visited early evening on a Tuesday when it was easy to get a table for two, but the restaurant recommends you reserve, especially at weekends when it gets extremely busy. The interior is brightly coloured with blue and yellow tiled motifs showing traditional Iberian images against dark red walls. There are also a small number of tables on the street outside, and in summer-time the front doors are kept open giving the area at the front a light and airy feel.
Menus are in Spanish, Dutch and English and divided into meat, fish and vegetarian tapas dishes, and they also offer a group menu for seven or more people where they serve their own chosen selection of dishes for €19.50 per person (or €25 including dessert and a glass of sangria). The choices are as you would expect in any Spanish tapas bar world-wide. Meat choices start from pollo con salsa (chicken in tomato sauce, €4.75) and include pimientos de piquilo (peppers filled with mince-meat, €5.75) and costillas de cordero (lamb chops, €6.75). Fish dishes include pulpo gallega (octopus with potato and peppers, €5.50), huevos rellennos(eggs filled with tuna, €4.50) and gambas al ajillo (king prawns in garlic, €6.75). The only two items above €6.95 are the selection of Spanish sausages for €10.75 and the jamon Iberico ‘Pata Negra’ (Spanish ham) at €16.50. They serve beers from the bar and a full range of wines, plus of course the sangria for which they are popular.
We ordered two glasses of white wine to start. As is usual with wine in The Netherlands, these were served in small tumbler-style glasses referred to by many expats living in Amsterdam as ‘thimbles’ due partly to their shape and the impression they give of holding a small amount. To eat, we chose a selection of dishes from the vegetarian section of the menu, plus bread with garlic mayonnaise (€3.50). The salads arrived first and the remaining dishes shortly after. The tomatoes in the ensalada de tomato y queso (tomato salad with Manchego cheese, €5.25) were tasteless and hard having either been grown in water or spent too long in a fridge. A slimy mass of green (the Roquefort) smothered the chickory in theendivia con queso azul (salad with chickory and Roquefort, €5.50) which was only rescued by the walnuts and almonds which could be picked out. The potato chunks in the Patatas Bravas(€4) were tasty, but the Bravas sauce bore strong resemblance to something you could squirt from a tube. The fried aubergine and courgette (€4) was tasty, as were the mushrooms in garlic sauce (€4.25) and Spanish Tortilla Omelette (€4.25). We chose not to risk desert and walked instead to an ice-cream parlour around the corner.
The total bill came to just under €40 for seven dishes including the bread and two glasses of wine. Although some dishes were good, the overall meal was slightly disappointing both in terms of taste and presentation. And although the atmosphere and deco are Spanish, the presentation and style of the food are definitely Dutch (large chunks of cheese and the sauces separate from the main items in small finger-dipping dishes). Paso Doble is probably fun to visit in a large group and the meat and fish dishes may be better, especially if combined with Sangria on a busy weekend. Perhaps this and the fashionable location explain Paso Doble’s popularity, but we were disappointed and unless someone else arranged it, this isn’t somewhere I would visit again in a hurry.