The Netherlands doesn’t seem to have an indigenous dumpling but they do have Bitterballen, which is the country’s national bar snack. They are similar to Japanese Takoyaki in that a batter or roux with a meat filling is shaped into a ball and then fried so that the outside is crispy and the inside is soft and creamy. Bitterballen usually contain minced or chopped beef or veal and the roux is made from broth, butter, flour, parsley, salt and pepper. Most recipes also include nutmeg and some variants also add in curry powder, and there are vegetarian varieties as well. The roux is mixed and cooked and then refrigerated so that it firms up. Once the roux is firm, it is rolled into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter which are then battered with egg wash and breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Because the outside coating is made of breadcrumbs Bitterballen could reasonably be classified as croquettes, but the creaminess of the interior feels closer to a takoyaki.
Cafe De Groene Vlinder (Green Butterfly Cafe) – I tried this place out while walking the amazing Albert Cuyp street market in the Nieuwe Pijp district and selected it mainly because of its location on a small lively square looking out on the market. These were my first Bittenball of my trip and I see why they are Holland’s favorite bar snack, the fried coating and savory, slightly meaty flavored interior went so well with beer. The interior roux had grey color which I found a little aesthetically off-putting but the flavor was really good. The Bittenball come with a little boat of yellow mustard. Cafe De Groene Vlinder has lots of outdoor seating and is at the corner of Albert Cuypstraat and Eerste van der Helststraat (https://cafe-de-groene-vlinder.nl/)
Bar Bitterbal – This bar, just south of Amsterdam’s Old Town, serves 25 varieties of Bitterballen – grouped into Meat, Cheese, Seafood and Vegetable – with some interesting filling choices, including Wild Boar, Pulled Pork, Lobster, Oyster Mushroom and Dark Beer and Black Truffle. I tried the very enjoyable vegan Indian Curry Bitterballen which had a strong curry flavor and a moderate level of spice heat. The Indian Curry Bitterballen come with a sambal chili dipping sauce and some pickles and chutney. Bar Bitterbal has two other vegan options, the Humus and Roasted Chili Pepper varieties. This is definitely the place to go to conduct a wide survey of Bitterballen and they have some great Dutch and Belgium beers on tap. Bar Bitterbal is on Utrechtsestraat just north of Herengracht. (https://barbitterbal.nl/en/home/)
Gewaeght Cafe – I hit this spot because it made the list of top 5 bitterballen on the BITTERBALLENBRUID blog although it mainly made the list for its ambiance, interior design – paintings, records and memorabilia celebrating music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – and “gezellig” atmosphere. Gezellig is a Dutch term that has no literal translation into English, but seems to reflect the feeling of being a regular at one’s local pub, bar or cafe. The bitterballen were good but not out standing and the decor was pretty cool, but I really liked its location looking out onto Nieuwmarkt Square. The bitterballen come in orders of six or nine and are served with the usual yellow mustard dpping sauce. If you are spending a day wandering through the Old Town section of Amsterdam this is a good place to take a break and get a beer and a snack. Gewaeght Cafe is at the corner where Bloedstraat hits Nieuwmarkt Square (http://gewaeght.nl/en/).