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Amsterdam Good Chocolate

In Mid-Winter, a Visit That's Short but Sweet

By Susan Harb
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, February 13, 2005; Page P01

It was after the raw scallops dressed in chocolate mayo and the shrimp risotto flavored with dark chocolate shavings and sugar beets, after the palate-cleansing caipirinha snow cone topped with sea salt, sugar cane and pure chocolate, after the medallions of duck wearing frothy caps of whipped chocolate and Chinese-spiced gravy, that I turned to my friend Karen and said: "Too much of a good thing."

She groaned in agreement. We left sometime after midnight but before the chocolate brownie cake filled with raspberry-chocolate mousse was served. We left the dessert in the middle of Amsterdam's hip restaurant, the Supperclub, where it was being "painted" with the likeness of a Dutch film star by an artist using brushes dipped in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and truffle chocolate. Minutes earlier, his paint bowls had been passed from increasingly rowdy dinner guest to dinner guest. They dipped their fingers in the warm frosting, licked them clean and dipped again.


Diners indulge at the Supperclub's chocolate dinner in Amsterdam. (Karen Tam)

"What did we just do?" asked Karen in disbelief, heading for the door. "We probably had enough alcohol to kill the germs, right?"

"Yeah," I responded. "And enough flavonoids to prevent a heart attack."

The dinner, two hours after our arrival in Amsterdam, kicked off our five-day mid-December trip, an early Christmas present to ourselves made possible by cheap flights to cold countries in winter. We'd lunch on fondue, visit the Dutch masters and finish up our holiday shopping along picturesque canals rather than in congested shopping centers.

The evening had begun five hours earlier when, freezing in our slinky red cocktail dresses -- the recommended attire for women; men were instructed to wear black tie -- we stumbled down dark, icy cobblestone streets in impractical high heels in search of the trendy Supperclub, a restaurant, bar and art space.

Twice a year, the club sponsors a five-course meal (about $83) prepared by a guest chef, and we'd lucked out getting the last two seats for the winter bacchanal. And I literally mean "luck" and "seats." About 125 guests ate in bed, as is customary at the Supperclub, reclining on bolster pillows with a small tray at their feet. Forty of us dined comfortably around a long banquet table, though our host, Howie, apologized profusely for the conventional seating. "Bedtime comes early," he cooed. "You need reservations in advance."

It was a decadent evening, a frolicking one-night stand with young, hip Amsterdam. The 12-year-old club is in an alley near Dam Square. It is so cool it doesn't have a sign, only a doorbell, a nameplate and an aura of exclusivity.

People came to have a good time and drink lots of champagne and wine. The suggested beverage menu was another $60. The ladies in red wore everything from skin-tight fire engine-hued leather pants and boots to peachy-toned lace dresses, fishnet stockings and stilettos studded with rhinestones. Women took the dress recommendation seriously; many men opted for black T-shirts. Howie, combining the male and female, wore a red dinner jacket.

Everyone who hit the sack kicked off their shoes before crawling into "bed," which is really a long cushiony couch that runs down two sides of the large, rectangular, all-white restaurant -- with no separation between one party and the next. The wall-to-wall bed design is repeated on the mezzanine level. At one end of the room is an open kitchen; on the other, a deejay's platform. Above the kitchen, a huge video screen sets the mood.


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