Hello Döner Fans. Those of you who frequent the city centre of Amsterdam may have stumbled across the diamond-in-the-rough that is undoubtedly Eetsalon De Mol. If the buskers, pickpockets and selfie-stick-wielding tourists of Dam Square have drained your energy, then why not take a gander to the back streets of the local area? Perhaps the throbbing masses have driven you onto the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal behind De Nieuwe Kerk. Perhaps from there, ducking between the trams, traffic and cyclists, you’ve found your way to the mouth of Molsteeg alley, and are peering into its seedy depths towards the dim lights of Spuistraat beyond. Perhaps you are lost. Perhaps you are desperate. But wait: what’s this? Your eyes alight upon a beacon of hope in this urban desert: the cosy red and yellow sign of Eetsalon De Mol grabs your attention, and like Alice in Wonderland you descend into the rabbit-hole in search of meaty treats. And meaty treats, indeed, there will be. I bring you: Eetsalon De Mol!
Dr Döner has been known to roam the area around Spuistraat and Singel at times, so it is no surprise that his path crossed that of De Mol sooner rather than later. On this occasion, I was hungry. It had been a taxing day. Work had been done. It was now time for sustenance. Gathering a pair of handy eating companions, I plunged into the eerie gloom of Molsteeg alley and opened the glass door that led into the Eetsalon’s inner clutches. We stood and looked over the room within.
What strikes you most about the interior design when you enter is the innovative two-tier layout. This involves a lower front dining area and a raised back zone which houses the counter and the food preparation area. Ascending the steps to the counter, you might feel as if you are approaching some higher authority, like the altar in a secretive temple dedicated to the prehistoric gods of food. Once at this heady altitude you must place your order, before being banished back down to the lower chamber below, to await your kebab.
I had ordered a ‘broodje-doner’, or a döner in bread. As we sat there taking surreptitious photographs, it was observed that there was no log of döner meat on display behind the counter. Did this mean that there was some state-of-the-art larder out of sight, whose temperature was strictly regulated, in which the prime döner-meat was housed and prepared? Alas no, the meat was in a sack under the counter. It was taken out and lovingly tossed onto the hot-plate, where its transformation from flaccid grey to crispy brown was meticulously controlled by the moustachioed chef who had taken our orders. We waited. The tension mounted. The chef asked if I wanted chilli and garlic sauce. I said yes. Time passed. Eventually the chef called down to us that our food was ready. We took our parcels and departed. The glass door swung shut behind us, and we were back in the real world.
We took our food to a place of safety, and warily unwrapped the tinfoil that enfolded our food. I have to say, my döner was not the greatest success story to come out of Amsterdam. Most of the filling was OK as it oozed across the tinfoil, but the bread was too well-fired and brittle, and failed to hold its contents together. I was already predisposed to dislike this döner, since the price (though I can’t remember it exactly) had seemed a little high for such a small meal. Nonetheless, I ate my döner to the last mouthful, though without gusto. My companions, who had ordered other things, were less disappointed. The ‘patat oorlog’ was especially nice, for instance. Indeed, I had been warned in the past that an Eetsalon is not an appropriate place to buy kebab since it caters more towards the Snack-market which is popular in the Netherlands. Maybe if I go back to Eetsalon De Mol a second time, I will try some of its other fare. However, I think not. Dr Döner and De Mol have parted ways.
Service: 3/5 (fine)
Atmosphere: 2/5 (plasticky)
Price: 2/5 (seemed a bit much)
Taste: 2/5 (not the best)
Photography courtesy of Messrs. M. Koopmans and C.J. Hudson