Nieuw Amsterdam

106-112 Hardware Street 
Melbourne, VIC 
I haven’t been this excited for a long time. Every now and then, a restaurant will come along and it will take all of two seconds to send me into hyperactive overdrive. Case in point: when Chris dug up Nieuw Amsterdam from the depths of Urbanspoon. Within the hour, I had trawled through every photo, comment, and review that I could get my grubby hands on. Though diminutive, I quickly decided that I wanted to try everything on the menu (which I had committed to memory by then), no exceptions, and a visit was set up ASAP. 

Despite only having been on the scene few months, taking the place of an old Irish pub, it was fully booked on Saturday night. Luckily the sympathetic waiter managed to get us a spot for 6pm, on the proviso that our buttocks were out by 7:30. As we had the ballet to go to afterwards, everything worked out perfectly. Well, not quite perfectly, as we were drenched with torrential rain on our way to the Arts Centre, but that’s not a story worth telling. 
Nieuw Amsterdam is set up over 2 storeys, the lower of which housed a lusty little cocktail bar, and the upstairs being the dark and intimate restaurant that was half steakhouse and half bistro. More importantly though, the air was permeated with the smell of smoked meats. Not that this came as a surprise – Nieuw Amsterdam specialises in American-styled comfort food (albeit with a classier spin), including a healthy selection of protein from the grill.   
Bread and Butter
The waiters went quickly about seducing us with a plate of hot sourdough (made in house – of course) and creamy butter that soaked the fluffy, salty bread with a layer of gold. I’ve hardly had a better serve of bread and butter, and we were left hoping that the rest of the meal was just as brilliant.
Pork Trotter and Ham Hock Nuggets (8pcs, $14 – half serve shown)
Chris and I have an illicit little love affair with chicken nuggets, so it was a no-brainer for us to order the much classier and luxurious Pork Trotter and Ham Hock Nuggets(8pcs, $14 – half serve shown). These fried little darlings consisted of succulent, gelatinous shreds of ham, sandwiched between the caramelised sweetness of burnt onion jam, and the tangy fruitiness of compressed apple. Though simple, it was incredibly delicious, and every element jumped out, before blending harmoniously into each other. I was especially impressed with the burnt onion jam – it tasted exactly like fried onions! 
Chicken Waffles (3pcs, $15 – half serve shown)
I’ve never had fried chicken with waffles, and though I was curious to try the all-American classic, today was not the day. The Chicken Waffles (3pcs, $15 – half serve shown) at Nieuw Amsterdam were in a different class altogether. The chewy waffle squares were stacked high with chicken terrine and smooth, sweet pate, crowned with a shard of chicken skin. It would’ve been delicious as it is, but the small drop of sweet orange jam tipped it over the edge, mingling with the thick spread of pate for a lush, decadent mouthful. I had forgotten all about the bread and butter by this point, which is saying something indeed. 
Southern Style Pork Belly Chops ($21)
With the restaurant smelling as it did, there was no way we could not order something from the grill. Our poison for the day was a pot of Southern Style Pork Belly Chops($21), served up in generous chunks with a drizzle of sweet gravy. The meat was smoky and succulent with a hint of aniseed sweetness, the richness of the slightly fatty meat balanced by tangy spiced sauerkraut and mellow apple puree. And you know what topped it all off? Huge pieces of pork crackling. I’m not even going to talk about the brittle, crunchy slices of heaven; I’ll just let those two words do all the talking. Pork. Crackling
New York Clam Chowder ($20)
We finished up our mains with an impressive rendition of New York Clam Chowder ($20). The clams were fat and plump, soaked copiously in the thick cream sauce. And if that wasn’t enough, the clams were hidden under a scattering of fatty, smoky bacon, lending its rich aroma to the fluffy potatoes and diced vegetables. The overall effect was an incredibly delicious dish that left us scraping the plate. Just serve this up with a loaf of good bread and leave me and the chowder alone.
Our meal was sheer perfection, from the waiters who treated us like friends from the moment we stepped through the door, to the meal that was somehow both comforting yet extremely exciting. It was just past 7pm by this point, so we didn’t have time to have dessert. Not that I’m too upset about that – I’ll be back very, very soon.
Rating: 16.5/20 – amsterdam pleasures.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. 

Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

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