Best Grilled Ribs in an Old Brown Bar
If starting from Amsterdam’s popular Leidseplein square, it’s a short two-minute walk down Leidsestraat. Take a right down Kerkstraat and you’ll see this bright yellow sign sticking out above the entrance that reads Cafe de Klos, next door to a sex shop, because Amsterdam.
My parents first came here before I was born in 1982, although they only started bringing me when I was around 9 years old. I remember it well because it was also around the same time that I graduated to eating adult portions of steak. That’s right, I was done with the kid’s menu by the age of 9.
The funny thing about de Klos is that every time we went my parents would say to the waiters, “do you know, we’ve been coming here for 10 years,” which became 15, and then 20, and so on. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Amsterdam and not gone to de Klos. So now I’ve also been coming for 20 years! Soon you’ll be saying the same thing too.
Cafe de Klos is really a special place. It’s inside an old ‘brown bar’, referring to traditional Dutch bars so called from years of tobacco stains. I’m very grateful that it never fell into the hands of an interior designer. Its interiors have barely changed. Wooden walls, tables and benches, just like before, arranged into booths, as they’ve always been. There’s a large bar in the centre, with a kitchen and grill fired up in the back. fresh baguettes hang from a large wicker basket in front of the kitchen. Around the bar, large lights hang low over your food and drink, and unusual antiques adorn the walls. It’s unassuming, small and dark, and when it’s busy, noisy and cramped. They don’t take reservations, but I’ve always been seated within the hour.
The waiters are deliberately rude and I love it. Or rather, they used to be. I wasn’t too sure how to take the politeness of the waiter on my most recent visit. Growing up they would try to wind up my dad about his pretty daughters, and what trouble he was going to have in a few years! Another time in my twenties, I came there on a date and they started telling me how they had seen my boyfriend there with another woman just the other night! Impossible, since we had just arrived there together. But nice try. Could have worked if we were local! Then when he got up to go to the bathroom, they started telling me that I could do so much better and should write down my number. Turns out they were right about that!
Although I really love the casual atmosphere, and how it remains exactly as I remember as the decades roll by, that’s not why I come to Cafe de Klos. I come for one reason and one reason alone. Their world famous spare ribs. Tender, succulent pork, cooked and then grilled to produce the softest fall-off-the-bone meat there is. No sticky sweet sauce or overpowering marinade on these babies. Just. Pure. Tender. Grilled. Meat. They offer two versions: smoked or unsmoked. I always go for unsmoked, which is the normal juicy meaty version, while smoked is more dry and pink, like bacon.
The ribs are served in either ladies or men’s portions, which means 2 or 3 racks. I’m a sucker for the ribs, but their whole menu is delicious, also specialising in steaks and lamb chops. I always order a jacket potato on the side, dripping in indulgent garlic butter. Each main course also comes with bread and garlic butter on the side, as well as coleslaw, and garlic and cocktail dip.
Kerkstraat 41, 1017 GB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Open daily 4 pm til midnight and from 2 pm on weekends