After wandering around Amsterdam, mostly in the Leidseplein, looking at places to eat and getting rained on pretty much the whole time, I decided to go back towards where my Airbnb is located and try the burger place I’d passed several times over the last few days.
So I went into Thrill Grill looking like a bedraggled rat (bangs never look good when soaked) and that certain kind of wet through that makes even your bones damp. It was empty when I arrived just past 1pm, though four or five more tables came in as I was eating. It’s Easter Sunday, after all. (I forgot to take a picture of the outside, but I’m just plain old too lazy to go back and snap one.)
The girl working there was polite, and I was able to choose my own seat. The decor was modern and minimal; raw wood tables, framed beef cut diagrams on the walls, a few plants here and there, and hanging exposed light bulbs. The music thankfully wasn’t too loud, one of my biggest pet peeves about restaurants and cafes, and the only two songs I remember playing were Sympathy For The Devil and My Sharona.
The menu is printed like a newspaper, and you are welcome to take them with you. They have a very wide selection of drinks including milkshakes, tea and coffee, sodas and juices, and spirits, beer and wine. If I’d remembered I can drink in this country I would have ordered one of their mixed drinks. As it was, I ordered a water and an iced tea because I was thirsty after my walking. Had I known the water was going to be in a very small glass bottle (wasteful!) and cost me the same as the tea, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. The iced tea was homemade (they also had a bottled one, but when homemade is offered, always take it!), and was a very light, refreshing mint which perfectly balanced my meal. Americans, don’t order the tea thinking it’s going to be iced sweet tea. It’s not. That being said, it was very nice and I would recommend it.
For food I was limited to the lunch menu (served 12pm to 4pm; dinner is from 4pm to close, which is 10 Sunday through Wednesday), which is smaller than the dinner menu and newly offers toast topped with things such as avocado and corn or red onion jam and cheddar cheese. I kept it simple and went for the classic beef thriller burger (100% natural beef from grazing Dutch dairy cows, tomato, lettuce, Gouda cheese, red onion, crispy bacon and the Classic Thriller Sauce™ on a toasted organic bun), and classic french fries.
I received my meal quite quickly after placing my order. The beef was very well cooked, meaning still pink in the middle (if you like it brown all the way through please don’t talk to me. You’re murdering your burger.) and was flavorful, tender, and so juicy there was a little pool under the bottom bun. Now I must admit something: when eating a burger I usually take the top bun off and eat the rest with a knife and fork. Yes, I know, I’m a heathen false American and I should hand in my American flag and bald eagle immediately. But here’s the thing. Most burgers (well, any burger worth mentioning,) are just simply too tall for me to eat with my hands, and squishing it down does nothing but make stuff ooze out the sides and make a mess. So eating it with a knife and fork makes everything neater and more enjoyable, plus I don’t get those extra carbs from the top bun (though I did try a bite of the top bun and it was wonderful – you could tell it was organic and it was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside).
Anyway, the burger was tasty. My only complaints would be that there wasn’t enough lettuce to do anything for it, and there was way too much of the Classic Thriller Sauce,™ which wasn’t even that exciting. Michelin star chef Robert Kranenborg, who is the one behind Thrill Grill talks about not flavoring the beef because he’s a purist and wants you to taste pure beef, but then the burger was completely smothered in this sauce (think mayo mixed with ketchup but less sugar and vinegar) which I had to scrape away to see if the beef really was as good as he said it was (which is an affirmative). But perhaps whoever was in the kitchen accidentally dolloped a little more than normal on there. It was served with a sweet and sour pickle slice that I, someone who isn’t the humble pickle’s biggest fan, gobbled down and wished there was another.
As for the fries, well…they were fries. Good ones, though. They’re made from real, fresh-cut Agria potatoes, which really makes the difference and you can tell because they’re still good when lukewarm and even cold (and will reheat nicely, though I don’t have any to test with), and whoever made them really knows their frying. No excess grease whatsoever and they weren’t “dry” inside. They were served with homemade mayo which was yummy and had just the right amount of mustard in it to where you knew it was there but it didn’t overpower no matter how much you shoved in your mouth at once. Which I didn’t do, of course.
Because I hadn’t eaten yet today, and I’d walked a good few miles, I ate everything but the top bun and it filled me up just the right amount. If I’d had breakfast I probably would have had some left over, but that’s just me. When the girl asked if I wanted to see the dessert menu, I thought why not; my apartment was less than five minutes away and I could enjoy it later with a cup of tea. There are organic ice creams in five flavors and three desserts; vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso, brownie or brownie with ice cream, and a lemon meringue pie. I unfortunately can’t have anything with coffee because I have a sensitivity to it, and whenever I’ve had chocolate desserts I only end up eating a bite of it, so I ordered the lemon meringue pie to go.
The pie was…interesting. It had sort of a tough pastry and a very thick layer of what I assume was frangipane (I’ve never had it or even seen it in the States, I’ve only heard of it from watching the Great British Bake Off), followed by a layer of the lemon and topped with a little round of meringue. The lemon layer was slightly thinner than the frangipane, was more of a cream color than yellow, and wasn’t quite bursting with lemon taste as the menu description boasted. The whole thing was extremely sweet and much heavier than I’m accustomed to a lemon meringue pie being.
Below is a price breakdown of my meal:
Water, €2.60 ($2.76)
Iced Tea, €2.60 ($2.76)
Burger, €8.95 ($9.50)
Fries, €3.50 ($3.71)
Pie, €5.25 ($5.57)
Total, with tip (because I always forget which countries tip and which don’t, but I’m a good American,) €26 ($27.60)
$9.50 for a burger isn’t bad, especially because it was a pretty good burger. Normally I would have skipped the drink and the dessert (and not had to pay for goddamned bottled water), so if I wasn’t splurging on vacation, my meal would have been more like $15 which is a little more forgivable for just being lunch by myself. But considering I went to the Lidl around the corner the first morning I was here, and spent €30 for my first six meals and still have enough food left for at least five more, it seemed a little pricey to me.
TL;DR: Thrill Grill served up a great burger at a reasonable price. Just watch out for the expensive bottled water. And always have an umbrella.
To learn more about Thrill Grill or to book a reservation, visit their website: www.thrillgrill.nl