Last Sunday’s dinner at Vuurtoreneiland was one of the most special experiences I’ve had while living in Amsterdam. No exaggeration.
Vuurtoreneiland (Lighthouse Island) is a tiny island in the Markermeer, near the village of Durgerdam in Waterland, about 30 minutes by boat from Amsterdam. It’s also the name of the summer pop-up restaurant the island that opens only from May to September every year.
My fascination with Vuurtoreneiland began when it first opened in 2013. They would open reservations on their website at 12:00 sharp on the first of every month. Without fail, every single table for the next 30 days would sell out within minutes.
As with all things one can’t have, Vuurtoreneiland became a bit of an obsession. Every summer, I would sit down at my computer at 11:50 on the first of every month and begin furiously hammering at the Refresh button at the stroke of 12.
And I failed, every single time, to get a table.
Until this summer.
I nabbed one (ONE!) ticket for dinner before the reservations system kicked me out. Luckily, I wrangled another seat for Marlon just a week before the date, plus a babysitter for Tala. Not so luckily, when the day of my long-awaited booking finally arrived, it was pissing rain—the only rainy day in two weeks of sunny, summery weather.
Luckily again, the rain cleared up by 3:30p.m., the time of our scheduled departure to the island from the Lloyd Hotel. Yay!
Our Vuurtoreneiland experience began with the kist (chest), a box of snacks for the boat ride to the island. Roggebrood (dark rye bread), tiny smoked fish called sprot, ossenworst (raw beef sausage), pickles, butter, and mustard—all typically Dutch flavors, but very good quality and smartly packaged in a wooden chest-cum-cutting board with leather straps.
“These guys know what they’re doing,” we deduced over bites and bubbly, the wind whipping through our hair as our boat chugged across the Markermeer. The chest was a good omen, a clever detail that told us that our evening was going to be special.
Sundays are for early dinners at Vuurtoreneiland, what they call the Zondag matinee. The shorter days and earlier sunsets of late summer gave us perfect light. We stepped off the boat into this silvery-golden haze washing over everything like a dream. Really, #nofilter #noedit needed.
It felt like a falling through a rabbit hole into a well-kept Amsterdam secret; we were the only English speaking guests. “Are you on holiday?” asked a Dutch girl who took our picture. “Because you picked a place that isn’t in Lonely Planet! Great!”
Aside from the lighthouse that gives it its name, the island has a tiny house belonging to its owners, a ruined old fort, and a glass house that serves as the restaurant.
First impressions upon entering the glass house: the chefs in the open kitchen, putting the finishing touches on our starters…
… wooden beams, walls of glass, tables for couples and families.
Everything feels sparkling and modern yet rustic and warm.
Now, the food.