07 May 2014 • Spaces
It's not all about the Frame Store at Felix Meritis - since last Saturday Felix and Foam has been blessed by the arrival of Foyer on the city's culinary scene. It's run by the same people behind Repéré, the pop-up restaurant that took Amsterdam by storm for four months by offering excellent food at attractive prices in a thoroughly convivial (or 'gezellig' as the locals say) atmosphere.
Now this group of young, independent entrepreneurs just have gone and stepped their game up another notch. For the next six months they’ve traded their previous location on an ever so slightly salubrious corner of the Prinsengracht to the decidedly regal quarters of the Keizersgracht. It is, as you would expect for an interior featured on these pages, a very special place.
'Space is everything', says Figo van Onna, the man behind Foyer. 'Well, 80% maybe. When you walk in somewhere, you've got to have the right feeling.' He's right - as soon as you enter Foyer, you know you're somewhere special. They’ve wisely left everything untouched, simply stripping everything back to basics to allow the space to breathe and be suffused by the light of the giant windows and the warm wooden panelling on the walls. It's the kind of place you could stay in for hours to watch the Canal District's tourists (who chatter loudly) and residents (whose silence speaks volumes) process before you.
All the furniture is vintage - Felix Meritis originals, if you will - inherited from the building's previous tenants. It's the same story with Foyer’s logo and menus, both of which were plundered from the building's archives before being transformed into their new form. The result is much like the food, classic material with a contemporary twist.
Oh, yes. The food. The menu is simple: 3 courses, each with one meat, fish or vegetarian choice. If you wish, you can upgrade to 4 or 5 courses. I’m sorry to disappoint eager readers, but we were kindly requested not to publish any pictures of the food. The way Foyer wish to present their dishes visually is via a collaboration with Maarten Bezem, a young photographer with his own take on food photography. They worked with him at Repére (you can see his work for them here) and his photos for Foyer will hang in the patio section behind the current restaurant that will double the seating capacity to 110.
What I can tell you about the food is that if you choose to dine here you’ll eat as people who eat on the Keizersgracht are accustomed: like royalty. In line with the element of surprise that runs through the Foyer experience, dishes are proposed by ingredients rather than name. So you won’t find any Beef Wellington or Escargots de Bourgogne, but a range of decidedly more mysterious proposals: Pork | Squid | Fennel | Garden beans | Sea lavender, for example. (This was excellent by the way). Enthusiastic staff paint a picture of each dish, but you won’t know exactly what you get until it’s on a plate before you. Expect Nordic cuisine, broadly inspired by Noma, with a Dutch twist.
All the food is sourced locally, and when possible, is organic. Yet this isn't make or break for Foyer - waste not, want not and responsibility are the core values here. ‘We cook with what we can get. We make a menu after we’ve made an order, not the other way around’, says Figo. He believes it’s more important that the product is made with respect for the animal or the environment then comes with a label attached, and to keep prices down they buy cuts of meat that nobody else wants, rather than just serving local organic steak because that's what people want. The idea is to challenge people. ‘If someone says they want Fanta, we'll say, ‘I’m sorry, we don't have that, why don't you consider this instead?’ It may be eating outside of your comfort zone - but when you're at Foyer you'll be anything but uncomfortable.
Foyer is open for lunch every day and dinner Wednesday - Sunday until October.
Photos Maarten Bezem