If you’re looking for a sultry, super sexy date-night spot that doesn’t blow the bank, look no further than Brasserie OCCO at The Dylan Hotel in central Amsterdam.
Set along the picturesque Keizersgracht canal, the ultra-chic five-star hotel houses two restaurants: the Michelin-starred restaurant Vinkles and the cosmopolitan brasserie OCCO.
It would be easy to walk straight past the stylish hotel without even noticing, as it is a little set back through an elegant 17th century gate that makes it look a bit like a private residence.
Enter through the grand facade, through a courtyard and into the marble-clad lobby where someone will take your coat and guide you to a table.
Although Brasserie OCCO is the more casual and informal of the two restaurants, it’s design and ambience very seductive.
You enter through a dimly lit wood-panelled drawing room with roaring fires, into the beautifully refurbished contemporary restaurant.
The interior design, done by Studio Linse, combines the old with the new; glossy black beams and original brick floors hint at the building’s original interior, but the décor is refreshingly modern and sophisticated.
There’s a striking pendant suspended above a sweeping marble bar, the chairs are nicely plump and inviting, and warm woods are combined with leather and velvet – there’s even a whole wall that’s entirely padded in soft velvet. The lighting is soft and flattering, and the subtle background jazz music – from Jamie Callum to Nina Simone – feels flirtatious.
We were shown to a table by the window that looked out onto the enviable tree-lined courtyard garden (with outdoor tables for the summer months) and offered cocktails. Although there’s an extensive cocktail menu, our waitress tempted us to go off-menu and let the barman surprise us. Something bitter and refreshing for me, and something sickly sweet for him.
The barman hit the nail on the head and gave me a gin and champagne based cocktail, whilst Jonathan had something that tasted like children’s bubble bath (he loved it). We were also given some olives, served in a retro olive tin, and a basket of bread with olive oil.
We toyed with the menu, picking at the bread and humming along to The Girl From Ipanema. I ordered the ceviche, followed by the beetroot ravioli, and he ordered the Iberico followed by the Steak.
The ceviche did not disappoint – in fact, it was honestly the best ceviche I have ever tasted. Tangy, but not sour, not overly citrussy, just the right amount of coriander, bits of sweet mango making it a little more exciting, and topped with salty cashew nuts that gave texture and paired beautifully. Definitely one to try at home!
Jonathan was thrilled with his Iberico ham, which came with asparagus and Parmesan.
The beetroot ravioli was beautifully presented, but once I’d tried a piece of Jonathan’s steak I knew I had made the wrong choice.
The ravioli tasted delicious with salty feta and crunchy walnuts, but it had nothing on the steak which was so succulent, rich and satisfying, with a very sweet and moreish bearnaise sauce.
Next time I know what I’ll be ordering!
With gorgeous interiors, a stunning and central location, great food and wine – and a reasonably priced menu – it’s my top recommendation for date nights and dinners out with friends.