We already waxed rhapsodic about one of the dreamiest wine bars in Amsterdam, so it's only right we give one of the cosiest restaurants its due too. The mastermind behind Bar Parry has been working his magic over at sister restaurant Balthazar's Keuken for years - & it doesn't look like he's stopping any time soon. The space is wedged between shops on the Elandsgracht, & it's really the kind of place you'd like to come weekly, always excited to try something new on their rotating menu. Want to know more? Keep reading, as Alain tells all.
gloobles: Hi again! You were so wonderful in telling us all about Bar Parry. Can you tell us a bit more about Balthazar's Keuken?
Alain: The restaurant opened its doors for the first time in 1995. It was a different time back then, & places like this didn’t exist yet. We were looking for a space to cater, & we were living above the restaurant when this spot opened up. So we decided to combine the catering with a restaurant – 3 days a week. It’s always been a set menu - the only choice you have is fish or meat (& nowadays also vegetarian). After a couple of years, the focus changed from the catering to the restaurant. We wanted to create a small restaurant, a weekly changing set menu, family setting & simplicity. Almost every family member worked at the restaurant over the years, & some of us still do.
gloobles: It's a family affair. That's probably part of the reason it's so intimiate. Have you always been into food?
Alain: It was all about food when I grew up; every small occasion was a good reason to go into the kitchen & go big on food. I studied photography at Willem de Koning in Rotterdam. On the weekends, I started an illegal pop-up restaurant, popping up every weekend in a different city in the Netherlands.
gloobles: What a rebel! That's so cool. What do you think sets Balthazar’s Keuken apart from other places in Amsterdam?
Alain: The idea we had when we started the restaurant is still up to date after 25 years, without changing a thing – besides the menu of course.
gloobles: True, you guys really are an institution. What inspired you to open Bar Parry after Balthazars Keuken?
Alain: It has always been a dream to open a bar, since the restaurant is too small to have a bar inside. At the restaurant, we pair the wines with our changing menu & unfortunately can’t store all the bottles we’d love to have. With the bar, we were able to extend our wine list. Now, we do have a bar & a restaurant, only 100 meters apart. You could start your night with a glass of wine at the bar & then make your way to the restaurant for dinner &, of course, end your night with a last drink at the bar again.
gloobles: All without ever having to hop on your bike. A rarity here in Amsterdam. What do you think of the food scene in our city?
Alain: It’s amazing to see all the city has to offer. There are so many great new places & young people developing beautiful restaurants & initiatives.
gloobles: And it's always changing, so there's something new to explore whenever the mood strikes. So, how do you source your ingredients
Alain: In consultation with our suppliers & chefs, we decide what’s best for this week's menu. With this information, we make a beautiful menu that changes every three weeks.
gloobles: That's one of the things that really keeps us coming back. We love that there are always surprises in store. What’s your favourite restaurant in the world?
Alain: Misi in New York & S’estanc Vell in Mallorca. The owner of this restaurant has one of the most inspiring local wine collections. His mother makes perfect local dishes
gloobles: Sounds like a dream setup. What’s your go-to wine order?
Alain: De Wijnwinkel.
gloobles: We're sure they never steer you wrong. What’s on your travel bucket list?
Alain: Last year, we visited India, & we would love to discover more of it.
gloobles: Oh, us too. It's so magical. Where do you see Balthazar’s Keuken in 10 years?
Alain Parry: Hopefully we’re still running our beautiful restaurant in the same way we nowadays do.
gloobles: Honestly, we have no doubt about that. But we just have one last question for you. If you could dine with anyone in the world at Balthazar’s Keuken, who would it be & why?
Alain: I would love to dine with my grandfather Balthazar, after whom we named our restaurant. He moved to Egypt at a very young age. My mother, who was born there, brought al those spices & recipes back to Holland This formed the basis of how we cook at Balthazar.